The “Game of Thrones” cast has mastered the art of talking without actually saying anything. They’ve been making the rounds recently, doing endless publicity for the start of Season 7, which begins airing today (Sunday) (but you already knew that). And it’s really something to behold: the way these performers answer all sorts of questions from reporters without accidentally divulging the goods.
You can see why they’d be cautious. Gemma Whelan, aka Yara Greyjoy, recently told a story about how she almost lost the gig because she added the role to her résumé as soon as she got it, prompting an internet meltdown. Secrecy is paramount.
But the trick with these interviews isn’t just secrecy. It’s making them interesting – giving people some morsel that might appear relevant, even if it’s not. Some of the actors are better than others. Here’s a look at how well they deliver, on a scale from one to five dragons.
Emilia ClarkeRolling Stone interviewed Clarke, who plays Daenerys, for a story titled “Emilia Clarke, the Queen of Dragons, Tells All.” Of course, she didn’t.
“Spoiler alert – I normally don’t spend very much time in Belfast, but this last season I spent a little more time there,” she said. This was a pretty savvy tidbit because fans would logically obsess over what she meant, though it’s most likely just evidence that she’ll end up in King’s Landing, the interior shots of which are shot in Northern Ireland. We knew that’s where she was headed though, anyway. She has always said the Iron Throne is where she belongs, and where else would she be sailing at the end of last season?
But she also used such empty phrases as “it’s a really interesting season in terms of some loose ends that have been tied” and “rumors are going to be confirmed or denied.”
But then – then – she also revealed that she’d be around for another season. So she makes it through Season 7!? That’s not the kind of thing she was probably supposed to reveal, even if we already figured as much.
Score: Three dragons
Aidan GillenGillen, who plays the puppet master Littlefinger, used an interesting tactic designed to both generate headlines and give us nothing in the way of new intel. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he revisited a scene from Season 2 in which he bumped into a disguised Arya Stark, who had somehow managed to score a gig as Tywin Lannister’s servant.
The question at the time was whether Littlefinger recognized her. Well, what do you know? Years later, Gillen gave us an answer.
“It was unclear if he recognized her or not, but I have my own thoughts on that,” he said. “Yes, I did recognize her – I just didn’t say anything or do anything about it.”
There you go – mystery solved! Only not really, because it’s just the opinion of the actor. Also, it has no bearing on anything to come. Very crafty!
Score: Four dragons
Sophie TurnerTurner, who plays Sansa Stark, had plenty to say to Time about what it was like growing up while her character was – none of which matters when you’re looking for spoilers.
But she did give a little away when she talked about whether she worried that Sansa might go to the dark side after quenching her bloodlust and killing Ramsay Bolton last year.
“I think she may change a little, but at the end of the day, I think her heart is still good,” she said. “The way she deals with her problems and her enemies may be different from how she would have dealt with them in the day when she was 13 or so.”
That’s mildly thought-provoking. After all, Littlefinger wants to make her his sinister sidekick, but Turner intimates that won’t happen. She also – maybe – revealed something when asked how she hopes Sansa will end the series.
“I still haven’t seen a script– and you never know, I might not have made it through seven!”
Score: Two dragons
David Benioff and D.B. WeissThe showrunners have mastered talking (and talking and talking) without saying anything.
“For a long time we’ve been talking about ‘the wars to come,’” Benioff told Entertainment Weekly. “That war is pretty much here.”
Added Weiss: “There’s a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have been waiting for for a long time and when you put it on paper you just want to do justice to the work that these guys have done building these characters over so many years. You want to give them as much as you can.”
Reunions, you say? The war is here!? Um, yeah, obviously. The drawback to the Benioff-Weiss strategy is the interviews might keep the secrets, but they’re also pretty dull. They could learn a thing or two from Gillen.
Score: Three dragons
Pilou AsbaekThe bearded Dane who plays Ramsay replacement Euron Greyjoy was last spotted trying to quickly assemble a fleet of ships out of every last tree on the Iron Islands. An Entertainment Weekly story revealed that he’ll be a tad less hirsute this year – apparently, the smoother face may be part of a romance strategy involving a certain queen. But which one?
“For Euron, the question is, ‘Who gives me the best odds?’” he said. “Is it the dragon mother? No. Is it with Cersei? I think it is. Dany is still trying to be a good, decent, honest person. Cersei sold her soul many years ago.” According to EW, Asbaek then gave “an outlaw grin” before adding, “Maybe that’s why Euron likes the idea of her.”
Yeah, he definitely wasn’t supposed to say all that. We’re not complaining, though.
Score: One dragon
Kit HaringtonHarington’s strategy is straight out of the Weiss-Benioff playbook: tell people stuff they already know and hope they tune out.
To wit: When asked by Entertainment Weekly about potential tension between Jon Snow and Sansa, he said, “There are the same problems – she questions his decisions and command; he doesn’t listen to her. But as far as where that goes or takes them or how dark it can get, we’ll see. It gets past sibling squabbling, it gets into two people power struggling.”
Fascinating. Really, please go on.
“It’s a nice change for me this season, he talks more, he’s more sure of himself,” he added. “He doesn’t just know what he’s got to do but he’s more sure of what he’s saying - whereas before there was always some fear and doubt. I’ve gotten to enjoy not just grunting.”
Yawn. What were you saying again?
Score: Two dragons
Lena HeadeyHeadey was delightfully Cersei-ish when the New York Times asked her about next season.
“Um, she’s not having a good time – there you go,” she told the interviewer. “Apparently winter is really coming, finally.”
Finally is right. What she didn’t give up about Season 7, she more than made up for with a wonderfully bizarre story about a nurse chanting “shame, shame, shame” while trying to help Headey breast-feed just after her baby was born.
“I was flying on morphine, so it was sort of funny,” she said. “Had I been vaguely in the world, I might have been more offended.”
If Cersei’s skills are anything like Headey’s interview abilities, then she’ll be on the Iron Throne for a long time to come.
Score: Five dragons