When the Game of Thrones producers were seeking a filming location for their in-the-works fantasy series, the rugged coastline and historic landmarks of the North seemed like a perfect fit.
Over the past 10 years of filming, Northern Ireland has become a "second home" to the characters fans have come to love.
However, Antrim man Conleth Hill, who plays Varys, also known as Spider, said he had to push the team to host the European premiere in Belfast on Friday.
"It's the only premiere we've had here and I lobbied for it. I thought it was important that we showed our appreciation for it," he told the Herald.
"Our crew were from all over the world, our cast were from all over the world, but an awful lot of people were from here."
The actor (54), from Ballycastle, echoed the sentiments of other cast members that the hit HBO show has put the North on the map.
"It's ideal. I can't sell Northern Ireland enough to people thinking about making films," he said.
"There are great studios, facilities, locations and great crews." Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn in the series and spent time filming Ripper Street in Dublin as well as years in the North, said: "I loved every minute in Ireland.
"My father's family are from here and I feel the connection."
Liverpool native Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, said Belfast was already feeling "solemn" as the series comes to an end. "I'm really going to miss this place. I missed it the three years I was out of the show. I love just wandering around on a grey Saturday," the 31-year-old said.
"I love the feel of the city and I really hope I get to come back and shoot something else here soon."
Isaac Hempstead Wright (20), who got his big break as Bran Stark, said growing up alongside the Game of Thrones cast had "completely" shaped the person he is today.
"Almost every key life event I've been through is in some way related to Game of Thrones," he said. "It's kind of impossible to trace just how much Game of Thrones has influenced me as a person."
Hempstead Wright said his years in the North were something he would always fondly remember.
"It's so special. The people of Belfast as well are so lovely. I went down to Dublin last year too and I loved it," he said.