Friday 15 December 2017

Game of Thrones star says he was killed off earlier than intended

Alexander Siddig and Indira Varma in Game of Thrones season six
Alexander Siddig and Indira Varma in Game of Thrones season six
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (left), Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner and Kit Harrington of HBO's "Game of Thrones" pose backstage with their award for Oustanding Drama Series at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Reuters/Mike Blake

Game of Thrones actor Alexander Siddig is not very happy about the unceremonious way in which his character, Dornish ruler Doran Martell, was killed off in the first episode of season six.

In fact, the actor is so unimpressed, he has suggested that the showrunners eliminated Martell several episodes earlier than intended – either because Siddig was making the character too popular, or because the actor inadvertently offended someone on set.

“There was an enormous amount of fan excitement when I got named to be on the show, and everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, yes, Doran Martell. He’s going to be great as Doran Martell.’ That might have been the kiss of death,” the actor told Startrek.com in a new interview.

“Maybe they didn’t want quite that much attention on that character. Maybe they thought, “Well, let’s prove that we’re going to stray from the books. We’re going to do something else, and he will be our first example of that.” So maybe that could have been the case. Or maybe I just screwed up. Maybe I said the wrong thing to the wrong person.”

Whether you loved or loathed the Dorne-set elements of last season’s Game of Thrones, the first episode of the 2016 series was an undeniably shocking one: Martell and his guard Areo Hotah were murdered by the passionate, warlike Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and one of her three dangerous daughters, Tyene.

The additional murder of Martell’s son Trystane (carried out by Ellaria’s other two daughters) meant that an entire dynasty – one of the leading Westerosi houses – was effectively wiped out.

For fans of George RR Martin’s books, in which the Martells are still alive and playing an active role in several plotlines, it was a particularly significant change.

But the show’s divergence from the novels (which it has now overtaken) has arguably increased public speculation about future storylines, creating a secretive climate in which fervent speculation,  “spoilers” and “leaks” are the order of the day.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (left), Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner and Kit Harrington of HBO's
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (left), Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner and Kit Harrington of HBO's "Game of Thrones" pose backstage with their award for Oustanding Drama Series at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Reuters/Mike Blake

According to Siddig, this culture is part of a wider, internet age-led trend.

“I think the secrecy is kind of understandable, but also there is an element of hype about it that makes it… the more secretive it is, the more special it is. And certainly Game of Thrones plays that,” he said.

Controversially, the actor also indicated that he believes HBO may have deliberately leaked episodes, perhaps in order to increase the media furore surrounding the show.

“So, for example, last season, I believe that the first few episodes were stolen and downloaded online, and everybody got to see them before the show actually aired, and everybody was furious at HBO and whatnot,” he said.

 “I am almost positive that those four episodes were leaked by HBO themselves. So there is an enormous amount of spin going on. I can’t tell you that for sure; that’s just my opinion, but it’s games; everybody’s playing these games.”

Four episodes of Game of Thrones were leaked online ahead of the start of the 2015 season. Since then the show, which is one of the world's most pirated, has refused to issue advance press screeners.

HBO have not yet commented on the allegations, but the network would not have made any money from the leaked episodes.

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