With the new season of Game of Thrones just around the corner, the world’s media is abuzz with a host of trivia, spoilers and even the occasional mashup of everyone’s favourite fantasy show. At a time when many TV series – such as Netflix’s House of Cards or AMC’s Mad Men – have looked to the grit of reality for their substance, this HBO series has swung in entirely the other direction. Fans are hooked and the stars of the show have been catapulted to fame.
In appreciation of everything Westeros-related, we’ve uncovered some fun trivia and some surprising facts. Ever wonder what Hodor does on his off days, or whether Joffrey’s a bad guy in real life? Does Jon Snow know anything at all? Well, we have the answers. For any of you worried about spoilers for the upcoming season, you won’t find any here, although there are a few references to the original novels by George R. R. Martin on which the series is based. So let’s sit back, hum that incredibly infectious theme tune together, and descend into the alternate world of medieval fantasy. Winter is coming.
10. The Opening Titles were inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s Drawings
Most of us see the opening credits as a time to dim the lights and sing that ever-so-catchy theme tune, but if you look a little closer you’ll see there’s a lot going on visually too. The credits feature an interactive map of Westeros and at each location, mechanisms and landmarks are revealed. The turning wheels and cogs are said to represent the struggle for power in each of the kingdoms and bear a distinct resemblance to Da Vinci’s famous plans for his many inventions. The Italian painter is the pinnacle of the Renaissance man, creating blueprints for many devices that did not come into being until long after his time. This precise, technical approach to drawing is what dominates the opening credits. Take a closer look next time you’re watching, the sequence changes slightly with each season.
9. Brienne Actress Gwendoline Christie is Even Taller than You’d Think
Newcomer to both Game of Thrones and indeed the acting scene, Gwendoline Christie plays Jaime Lannister’s literal knight in shining armour, Brienne of Tarth. The statuesque actress is an incredible 6 feet 3 inches and seems to have found her calling in the role of the honour-bound knight. Christie, who is 36 and graduated from the Drama Centre London in 2005, is so striking she was even the subject of a series of photographs from photographer Polly Borland. Her role in Game of Thrones is her first in a major television series making Christie one of the many rising stars from the series.
8. There’s a Game of Thrones Burlesque Show
I know that all you die-hard Game of Thrones fans out there are secretly jumping for joy at the sound of this, but unless you live in Newtown Australia, you probably won’t get to see this burlesque show any time soon. The aptly-titled Dames of Thrones (genius, right?) is in no way affiliated with the original show which in some ways makes it the ultimate fan-based homage. Other tribute acts include a remix entitled Dragon’s Daughter and a clever Game of Thrones meets House of Cards mashup that is currently circulating online. Happy hunting.
7. Theon Greyjoy is played by Singer Lily Allen’s Brother, Alfie Allen
Yep, Theon Greyjoy seems to have losts all his luck (or at least something anyway) on screen, but off screen, he is at home in the gilded world of London celebrity. Alfie is the younger brother of pop singer, Lily Allen, and as you by now may have guessed, the subject of her song “Alfie.” Released on the singer’s debut album in 2006, the song presents the actor as a somewhat lacklustre layabout with a penchant for smoking weed. Fast forward a couple of years however and Alfie’s clearly got his act together: as well as appearing in Game of Thrones he has starred alongside Daniel Craig in the British film Flashbacks of a Fool and has appeared on stage in London. With Alfie and Lily’s father Keith an established comic in Britain, it seemed that both children were destined for great things and success was simply slower in the making for the younger sibling.
6. The War of the Roses in Fifteenth Century England Inspired the Storyline
An uncle marrying his niece, a queen suspected of sorcery, brother’s vying for power and several contenders to the throne. No, this is not actually Game of Thrones, it’s just British history! The Wars of the Roses, which took place in the fifteenth century, were some of the longest wars in Britain and many have drawn parallels between the real-life events and the world of Martin’s novels and television series. This would not be the first time that the Wars of the Roses provided inspiration for writers. The novels of Philippa Gregory look at the White Queen – who closely parallels with Cersei – and history’s evil uncle Richard III was, of course, the basis for William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. He is also accused of having an incestuous relationship. Sound familiar to GoT fans?
5. Peter Dinklage Also has a Successful career in Voice Over (He Doesn’t Actually Talk like a Posh Brit)
Let’s be honest, most of us may have watched the initial episodes of Game of Thrones looking to the Stark boys and even Jaime for male eye candy, but once the series kicked off, it was Tyrion that stole everyone’s hearts. His intelligence, wit and humour have easily made him the most endearing character and have given actor Peter Dinklage his chance to shine. But the actor has been around for longer than you may realise. When he’s not busy saving his lady and highlighting his hair for the show you can find him and his authentic American accent elsewhere; for example, narrating the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics for NBC. Additionally, one of his first roles – in the TV series Seinfeld – featured the actor’s voice alone and was credited as “sexy wake up call.” A clear career trajectory if ever there was one.
4. Pretty Much Everything Cersei does is motivated by a Childhood Trip to a Fortune Teller
This segment relates more to the original novels themselves than the television series, but provides an interesting insight into one of the show’s most complex characters.
As the mother of everyone’s favourite brat-king Joffrey, Cersei has been playing with power from day one. She never seems to have experienced a moment of happiness or satisfaction to date, largely due to her lover / brother Jaime going AWOL. Readers of the novels, however, will tell you that much of this is Cersei own doing, albeit in a misguided attempt to protect herself: As a young girl she visits a fortune teller who foresees her marriage to Robert Baratheon. However it’s also predicted that all of Cersei’s children will die before her and that she will be replaced by a younger, more beautiful queen, hence her insecurities over her age and her coldness to Joffrey’s wife Margaret. The fortune teller also warns Cersei that she will die at the hands of her “little brother.” Cersei presumes this to refer to Tyrion, who is the youngest of Tywin’s children, but it is also mentioned that she was born ahead of her twin brother Jaime. Yet another reason to be wary of the Lannisters and the debts/deaths, eh?
3. The Actress Who Plays Cersei is Not as Rich as You’d Think
Back to the silver screen, and it may surprise you to hear that while Game of Thrones has brought all of its stars fame, it has not necessarily brought fortune. At least not for Cersei actress, Lena Headey. She claims that she and her two year-old son are living off credit and that she has less than $5 in her bank account. Much of this stems from the difficult breakup she and ex, Peter Loughran, have gone through. The couple are arguing over a $46,000 tax return as well as the support and maintenance of their son. And as if that wasn’t enough, Headey isn’t even blonde in real life. There are no end to the shocks here.
2. Joffrey Actor Jack Gleeson is Actually Very Nice
As the success of Game of Thrones has grown, so too has King Joffrey’s awfulness. Everyone’s favourite character is played by Irish actor, Jack Gleeson, who – contrary to his character – is really quite nice. The mild-mannered actor is a student of the prestigious Trinity College Dublin, where he is awarded a much sought-after scholarship in his subject. When he’s not got his head in the books at college, the blonde boy can frequently be spotted cycling around the city. He has also co-founded a new theatre group in the Irish capital, Collapsing Horse Theatre Company, with some fellow Trinity graduates. Yet another reason to visit the Emerald Isle.
1. When Hodor Actor Kristian Nairn Isn’t Acting, He’s A DJ
Who knew that Hodor was such a party animal eh? Hodor, with his heart of gold and distinctly limited vocabulary, has provided everything from courage to comic relief in the show, but it seems that off-screen he has plenty to keep him busy. It seems that before Game of Thrones was the phenomenon it now is, Kristian Nairn was hitting the decks with his latest tunes and has continued this second career alongside his on-screen antics. You can catch him at gigs in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he may or may not drop the word ”Hodor” into his set. And in case you were wondering, he is 6 foot 10 and and half inches, or 2.1 meters, making him even taller than Brienne of Tarth!