EXCLUSIVE: Game of Thrones creators on ‘mind-blowing’ final season

Winter finally comes! TV WEEK Close Up gets a look behind the scenes of the landmark series’ final season. Who will claim the Iron Throne?
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Winter is coming for the last time, and nobody feels more torn about the end of Game Of Thrones than its creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss.

“It’s bittersweet, but it’s hard to keep a show together for more than eight years,” David, 48, laments of the series originally based on A Song Of Ice And Fire, George RR Martin’s set of epic fantasy novels.

“It felt like the right time for us to end with the story approaching its climax.”

It’s taken 10 months and an estimated US$15 million per episode to complete the final six episodes of Game Of Thrones, but the wait is almost over.

Winter is finally here.


David, like everyone else on set, is well trained in keeping a secret. We can only guess who will live or die this season, and who ends up on the throne when the dust settles at the end of it all.

But the producer/writer/director will confirm one thing: the eighth season will begin where the story left off 20 months ago, with all the key characters converging on Winterfell for a final showdown against the Night King and his Army of the Dead. They are ready to put aside their own complicated relationships to save the Seven Kingdoms.

“For the first five or six years, Daenerys and her whole storyline was off in Essos and there was the Northern storyline and the Southern storyline,” David explains. “So when we were planning the seasons, we used to have different-coloured index cards for all the different subplots. At one time, we were up to seven different colours.

“One of the things that has been unusual about this season, both for writing and scheduling and everything else, is that most of the people are in the same place,” he adds.

“That’s also why it’s taken so long to shoot, because we could only have one camera unit going in one location.”

Most of the characters are in one place this time.


Australia’s four-time Emmy-winning production designer Deborah Riley was given the task this season of not just expanding the Winterfell set for this epic showdown, but also taking over an 800-square-metre lot near Titanic Studios to rebuild King’s Landing from scratch.

Her team painstakingly recreated 38 buildings and streets originally located in a village in Dubrovnik, Croatia, that doubled for the site.

“It was fantastic to build it specifically in our own way to get the shots we wanted,” the NIDA graduate says. “But it was also necessary, because with the exposure that Game Of Thrones has now, if we went back there, it would close down the whole town and make it impossible to keep tourists and press from taking photos.”

King’s Landing was recreated for the new season.


We may be in the dark over the finale, which will be judged alongside other iconic shows such as The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but there are some hints.

“I think these episodes will be extraordinary and blow people’s minds,” actor Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont), 57, says.

Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) teases some big twists.

“What this final season does so well,” Gwendoline, 40, says, “is take a surprising step towards the depth of human behaviour.”

Gwendoline says Season 8 takes “a surprising step towards the depth of human behaviour.”

Isaac Hempstead Wright (whose character, Bran Stark, is in top contention for the throne) admits he was blindsided when he read the final script.

“I definitely didn’t see it coming,” the 19-year-old says.

“I don’t think there is any scenario in which everybody’s pleased with how it concludes but, in my opinion, I think the way they’ve wrapped it up is as close to that as we can get.”

“I definitely didn’t see it coming,” Isaac says of the final script.

GAME OF THRONES returns Monday from 11am (AEST), FOX Showcase.

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