There have been few television shows which have gripped the entire world quite like Game of Thrones has. The family dinner table, the Internet, and the water cooler in the office are just a few places where episode discussions, fan theories, and everything GoT-related is being heavily discussed on a regular basis. These days, it seems like everybody is claiming to be an expert who knows Westeros like the back of their hand, but there are many little-known facts out there which could be a great way to impress your friends and colleagues during your next GoT discussion, which, if we’re right, will probably be at some point later today.
10. Maester Aemon’s Actor Is Blind In Real Life
There has been a host of fascinating characters at The Wall, both fairly likable and much less so. One of the more memoraable characters is Maester Aemon, a wise and trusted old man who is important in plots involving Jon, Sam, and Gilly. He is also the great-uncle of Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, but remained at The Wall during Robert’s Rebellion due to his age and the fact that he is blind (as well as the binding oath of the Night’s Watch). As it turns out, the actor who plays him, Peter Vaughn, is actually blind in real life. Vaughn, who is 93, is a highly respected British actor who has appeared in many film, TV and stage productions. He excelled in his role as Maester Aemon, whose family history, and actions during the show make him a crucial character which the audience feels compassion for.
9. Joffrey’s Actor May Never Act Again
Perhaps the most despised face on television (although Ramsay Bolton may have taken that spot), simply looking at a photo of Joffrey is enough to get the average GoT fan’s blood boiling. His character is so despicable, that it is hard to see actor Jack Gleeson being able to play any other role. He did such a phenomenal job with the despicable character, that Gleeson has actually endured harassment from complete strangers on the street. In fact, George R. R. Martin, the author of the original books, reportedly wrote a letter to Gleeson after he became Joffrey Baratheon which said “Congratulations on your marvellous performance! Everybody hates you now!” For his part, Gleeson states he has no regrets whatsoever, but after his role on the show ended, he decided to retire from acting at just 21-years old. Gleeson has stated that the lack of privacy and celebrity lifestyle was not for him, and he instead plans to spend his time helping others, as he is actually a huge humanitarian.
8. Sophie Turner Adopted Her Direwolf
In the very first episode, the Stark family come across a litter of direwolves, which are an unusually large and intelligent species of wolf that also happens to be the sigil of House Stark. On the show, Sansa adopts one and names it Lady, and Sophie Turner (who plays Sansa) actually adopted the Northern Inuit dog that plays Lady in real life. Turner claims that she had always wanted a dog but her parents never did, but they persuaded the team to let her adopt the dog, which she has called Zunni. Unfortunately, Lady’s presence on the show did not last long as Ned Stark killed her in place of Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, who bit Joffrey. Of the six direwolves adopted by the Stark family, by the end of the sixth season, only Jon Snow’s Ghost and Nymeria remain alive (although Nymeria is loose somewhere near the Riverlands, and nowhere near Arya).
7. The Cast Is Full Of Porn Stars
Game of Thrones is as famous for its nudity as it is for its violence, which has both helped to make it one of the most popular shows on TV, and also drawn plenty of criticism. As it turns out, the cast actually features a number of actors who have made a living from adult films. Most notably, Sibel Kekilli, who played Tyrion’s love interest Shae, has starred in a handful of adult films in the past. Additionally, porn stars Jessica Jenson and Samantha Bentley have both played prostitutes on the show, while Australian amateur porn actress Aeryn Walker also made an appearance as one of Craster’s many wives. Although the nudity has somewhat been toned down in recent series (likely due to the backlash from several sources), the show is still famed for it. In fact, George R. R. Martin himself has talked about his frustration when he gets letters from people complaining about all the sex, while nobody even blinks twice about the incredible amounts of violence.
6. A Handful Of Real Bands Have Made Appearances
It seems that Westeros is the new must-play gig, as there have been a handful of minor appearances on the show by several musical acts. Often, these have been very small and you would not realize who you were seeing unless you already knew, or you happened to be a huge fan of the band. You can see the lead singer from Snow Patrol, Gary Lightbody, singing “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” during Season 3 when Jaime and Brienne are captured, and Coldplay drummer Will Champion appears as one of the musicians during the infamous Red Wedding. In addition, Icelandic act Sigur Ros performed during Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, and they felt his wrath when he pelted them with coins. Heavily bearded metal act Mastadon were fittingly used as Wildlings in the “Hardhome” episode (they probably didn’t even need wardrobe), and famed British rocker Wilko Johnson (from Dr. Feelgood) appeared as mute executioner Ilyne Payne in the first and second seasons.
5. A Sea Slug Is Named After Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen is famed for being The Mother of Dragons, but it seems that she is also the mother to another species entirely. While not quite as awesome or fearsome as dragons, it turns out that there is a species of sea slug which has been named after her. Discovered in 2013 by a team of researchers off the coast of Brazil, the scientists were taken aback by the similarity between the Khaleesi’s famous white/blonde locks and the pale plumes of the slug. As a result, they named the sea slug after Emilia Clarke’s popular character, calling it the Tritonia Khaleesi. But it’s not just sea slugs that are being named after the powerful warrior queen who plans to claim the Iron Throne. Since the show began airing, many parents have apparently named their children Khaleesi, despite the fact that the term is supposed to be a title and not a name.
4. There Are 70 Different Ways To Say “Hodor”
Simply mentioning the word “Hodor” will send many Game of Thrones fans into emotional despair after the events of the sixth season, when a friendly minor character was thrust to the front of the action, and we finally learned the reason why all he can say is “Hodor.” The actor who brilliantly portrayed Hodor, Kristian Nairn, revealed that there are actually a whopping 70 different ways to say “Hodor,” each with a different inflection. It is a method of expressing the character’s feelings or what he means. Clearly, Nairn certainly did a good job of getting the most out of a character who can only say one word. He also explained that he loved playing the gentle giant (probably at least partially because he didn’t have to learn any lines) and did not find it frustrating at all. Nairn, who actually stands an amazing 6’10″ in height, is also a progressive house DJ and went on a US tour titled “Rave of Thrones” in between seasons of the show.
3. Two Of The Most Famous Scenes Were Based On Real Historic Events
Game of Thrones has featured some incredible moments that seemed almost unbelievable, but it has been revealed that two of the most famous scenes in the show’s run were actually based on real life events. The notorious and shocking Red Wedding is actually based on two events from Scottish history: the 1691 Massacre of Glencoe and the 1440 Black Dinner. During the Glencoe massacre, troops sought shelter with another clan but were slaughtered in their sleep. Meanwhile, the Black Dinner saw a 16-year old Earl and his 10-year old brother lured to a feast, where they were dragged outside and executed halfway through. In addition, Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding is also based on a grisly historic event. In 1153, Prince Eustace (the son of England’s King Stephen) died after appearing to choke on his food, but it seems highly likely that the controversial Prince was poisoned by his enemies, much like the despised Joffrey. Given that at least some part of the premise of the books is based on the real life War of the Roses, it makes sense that the series would continue to draw from history for some of its biggest moments.
2. An Alternate Pilot Episode Was Shot, And Scrapped
The pilot episode of Game of Thrones was so fantastic, that it immediately hooked you while establishing a wide variety of important characters, and it also introduced an incredibly intriguing plot at the same. However, it was not the first episode to be shot. Apparently, there was a different pilot that was shot and eventually scrapped, which was directed by Spotlight director Tom McCarthy. This original pilot was very poorly received in a private viewing, resulting in about 90% of it having to be re-shot, with a few casting changes and a different director, Tim Van Patten, at the helm. According to writer and creator David Benioff, one of the biggest failings of that first pilot was that none of the people he or fellow creator D. B Weiss invited to watch it realized that Jaime and Cersei were related, which is an enormous plot point for the show, particularly in the opening episode. Fortunately, the pilot episode which ended up airing was very well received, and was initially seen by 2.2 million viewers. It remains one of the most memorable episodes of the show to date.
1. Ramsay Bolton’s Actor Was Nearly Cast As Jon Snow
The ninth episode of Season Six, “The Battle of the Bastards” (or “BastardBowl” as it has also been dubbed), is an episode which certainly did not disappoint and will go down as one of the greatest episodes of Game of Thrones. It was centered around a much-anticipated encounter between the sadistic Ramsay Bolton and heroic Jon Snow, perfectly highlighting the vast differences in the two characters. Interestingly, had things gone another way, that scene could have been wildly different, with everybody cheering for the face that we have all come to despise. The actor who plays Ramsay, Iwan Rheon, actually originally auditioned to play Jon Snow and ended up being the runner-up. Kit Harrington landed the role instead, and Rheon ended up being given the role of Ramsay Bolton, one of the most hated TV characters of all-time. Given what we’ve seen, it is hard to imagine rooting for a character played by Rheon, after seeing him master the role of such a horrible character.