Some key cast members of Game of Thrones attended a panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday where they addressed the response to Season 8. The beloved show's ending was met with mixed reviews when it aired this spring, but the actors themselves took it in stride.
Saturday's panel was the last Game of Thrones round-up SDCC will ever hold. It included Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), John Bradley (Sam Tarly), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) and Conleth Hill (Lord Varys). The cast took over the con's massive Hall H to reflect on the show's grand finale.
Of course, this means addressing the outpouring of rage and backlash that the show was met with online. Game of Thrones took a lot of flack for how it tied up its sprawling map of plots and schemes, leaving some fans disappointed. In fact, nearly 1.7 million people signed an online petition to "remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers," which Coster-Waldau admitted was a huge shock to him.
"It was surprising, the level [of backlash]," he said at the panel. "'Yes, we're going to change [the final season] 'cause that's the power of the Internet!' Every season we had huge controversies. It was from Ned Stark getting killed — 'We're never going to watch that s— show again' — the Red Wedding, the end... Obviously when it comes to an end, it's going to piss you off no matter what. Of course, at the end of the day, it's absolutely fine. If you hated the ending, that's great, just don't call people names."
The other actors agreed, defending their fellow cast and crew at least on a personal level. The performers themselves were mostly spared the vitriol over the finale, as most of it was directed towards writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Fans even isolated clips from interviews and behind the scenes featurettes showing the cast's reaction to the story, insinuating that they disliked the ending as much as the fans.
One of the biggest examples of this was Hill, who was shown tossing his script away in apparent outrage when he read what happened to Varys in The Last Watch. However, despite the fact that fans circulated this viral clip, Hill pinned the backlash on the news media.
"You look at the amount of people who are here and we're here to thank you for watching us all these years," Hill said. "We weren't divisive as a cast. We always did our hardest work... This is the reality rather than a media-led hate."
Other stars took the outrage in stride, feeling that a strong emotional response only proved that they had done their job right, even if it hurt in the moment.0comments
"It's almost a metaphor for life. That's the point of this whole thing. It's the journey," said Cunningham. "To watch that grow and to be on the set when we were doing the work. We, and you, are all on this journey together... We didn't know where it was going to go. Nobody knew it was going to be as big as it was going to get. We're all huge fans of the show. It's a beautiful, beautiful show."
Benioff and Weiss were supposed to be at the panel as well, but they dropped out at the last minute. meanwhile, many fans were hoping for some kind of announcement out of the panel, perhaps about the new prequel series that is currently filming. No such news came, but Comic-Con is not over yet.