Brow Beat

Game of Thrones Actors Seem As Frustrated by the Finale As You Are

Sansa, Arya, and Bran Stark stand on a jetty with a ship in the background. Jon Snow kneels before them.
“Just here for the memes.” Helen Sloan/HBO

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die—or, as we now know, you could get indefinitely exiled to the lame-duck Night’s Watch, enthroned without even wanting it, or merely caught with an anachronistic plastic water bottle. With its lengthy finale, Game of Thrones succeeded in delivering an ending that was unexpected and sort-of-happy, but still largely an empty, corny disappointment in the eyes of many fans and critics. (For this week’s Worst People in Westeros, Slate crowned showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.)

It’s pretty gratifying, then, to revisit the reactions of some of the only people who preemptively knew what the end would bring—the Thrones cast—and evaluate their responses, which reveal some rather conflicted feelings about the cap-off. Here’s a round-up of Thrones stars’ reactions to the show’s climactic pathetic last act.

Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark)

“When I got to the [Dragonpit scene] in the last episode and they’re like, ‘What about Bran?’ I had to get up and pace around the room,” Hempstead Wright told Entertainment Weekly. “I genuinely thought it was a joke script and that [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] sent to everyone a script with their own character ends up on the Iron Throne. ‘Yeah, good one guys. Oh s—, it’s actually real?’”

Then, after the episode aired Sunday, the young actor tweeted this rather cryptic emoji combo:

And though he did write in a guest column on The Hollywood Reporter that he was “thrilled with the way the show ends,” the actor also told EW: “I kind of did want to die and get in one good death scene with an exploding head or something.”

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

“I took a very long walk around London in a daze, not quite knowing how to digest the news,” Clarke told the New Yorker of learning her character’s fate. “I remember the boys—our writers and showrunners—telling me that Daenerys’s arc is that of Lawrence of Arabia. I watched Lawrence of Arabia, and I was, like, ‘Great, cool. He’s brilliant. He survived, and it’s wonderful.’ But then you remember how that movie ended, with Lawrence’s disintegration. I didn’t quite put those two things together. Or maybe I didn’t want to see it coming because I care about Daenerys too much.”

To EW, the actress said the finale felt like “it comes out of f—king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.” In the same interview, she added later: “It was a f—king struggle reading the scripts. What I was taught at drama school … I was told that your character is right. Your character makes a choice and you need to be right with that. An actor should never be afraid to look ugly. We have uglier sides to ourselves.”

And finally, there’s the now-infamous 2018 Entertainment Tonight video, in which Clarke responded to the question “Are you happy with how things ended?” with nervous giggling before splurting out, “Best … season … ever?”

Kit Harington (Jon Snow)

Harington didn’t even look at the finale’s script until the cast’s table read, he revealed to EW. When the actors got to the part where Jon stabs Daenerys, Harington said, “I looked at Emilia and there was a moment of me realizing, ‘No, no …’” He was crying at that point, Clarke chimed in.

As for his take on what fans will think of the finale, Harington said: “I think it’s going to divide,” adding, “One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall.” (As for critics: He told Esquire that they “can go fuck themselves.”)

But perhaps most tellingly, when, during a video interview with PopBuzz, Harington was asked to describe the season finale in one word, he responded—jokingly, but with a germ of truth: “Disappointing.”

Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)

Headey was also initially dissatisfied with her character’s demise, telling EW that she she first felt “mixed,” adding, “I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody.”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the actor cautioned that the final season may feel rushed: “We’re used to having a whole season to get to a point. Now, suddenly, a lot of things happen very quickly … Trying to connect the dots between the scenes was a little complicated because you invest so much time, so many years in these characters, so when suddenly you find out that Jaime comes back and his son has committed suicide … there’s so many things that obviously you can’t go through, on-screen, all of these moments, but you have to still walk through them in your mind, if you’re an actor, at least talk about them. There was a lot of those connecting the dots throughout.”

Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)

Dinklage, whose character ends on a relative high note, is a bit harder to read. Though he’s expressed only satisfaction with the series finale—like telling Vulture that Tyrion “was given a very good conclusion”—his expression, at least in one viral video clip, suggests otherwise:

Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)

To E! News, Christie said of the final season, “You’re going to need therapy.” She also posted this on Instagram:

Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

And finally, Williams, for the win: