'Game of Thrones' pay rumour is fantasy - star Liam
It's the biggest show on the planet, so it's no surprise reports have emerged that Game of Thrones stars are lining up for a massive pay day - taking home €1m to €2m per episode.
According to LA news outlets, as the cast prepare to film the final series (series eight), their newly negotiated salaries will outstrip the mega pay packets earned by the stars of The Big Bang Theory and Friends.
But Irish star Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos in the HBO fantasy, has been quick to pour cold water on the idea.
Yesterday morning, when contacted by the Sunday Independent, the star responded with his typical Dublin wit.
"What?! You think the Game of Thrones works like a pensionable job in the civil service? Where the last men standing get the most money? It doesn't!"
He continued: "Every time I see a new figure thrown around, €1m per episode, €2m per episode, I burst me ribs laughing.
"My bank manager is having a good laugh at it, too."
Rubbishing the reports, he said that because the show was filmed outside America, the estimations were nothing more than hot air.
"It is not filmed in the States; if you had an American deal, there would be a lot more 'residuals' so you can't compare shows that are filmed here to shows that are filmed over there.
"And if what they are saying is true - that the top 10 stars are getting €2m per episode - then that means it's costing €20m an episode before you even buy one costume or write one word of script. That's more than Star Wars!" he laughed.
According to reports, the new contracts involve complex bonus clauses based on shared percentages of syndication payments accrued from more than 170 countries, and cast members, including Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen; Jon Snow actor Kit Harington; Lena Headey, American Peter Dinklage, and Danish co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, are all said to have signed golden contracts for the seventh and final season.
They also look set to benefit enormously from repeats being shown, particularly in America, where the show averaged a record-breaking 23 million viewers per episode of last year's sixth season.
In recent weeks, media analyst Mike Raia told reporters: "Cable network HBO is breaking the bank to ensure its most successful scripted programme ever goes out with the kind of flourish fans all over the world have come to expect."
This new series will be seven episodes long in contrast to previous series, which ran at 10 episodes each. Meanwhile, the TV network is also said to be doubling down on its mammoth task to replace the record-breaking show.
The network is adamant it must find a way to continue the most popular series in the company's history. Bosses are said to have taken the unusual step of developing four different ideas from different writers.
If these spin-offs get the go-ahead, we will see a massive expansion of the fantasy universe created by author George RR Martin and the shows would become the first follow-up series to one of its hits.
Cunningham's fellow Irish actor Aidan Gillen will also appear in the penultimate series of Game of Thrones, playing Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish.
The show has developed such a following that in the US, Khaleesi, one of the show's most striking characters, was among the most popular baby names for girls.
The much-anticipated season seven of a pop culture behemoth will be shown in Ireland on Sky Atlantic, beginning on July 17.