With “Game of Thrones” deviating so much from the books this season, it’s easy for all fans to feel like they know less than Jon Snow. (And that guy knows nothing.) But now it’s time to turn that around.
For anyone who just needs to know more, the “GoT” cast has some behind-the-scenes secrets to keep you informed. From how far that Moon Door drop really is to why fake blood might be a bigger threat to Emilia Clarke than the Sons of the Harpy, here are some facts about “Game of Thrones” that might surprise you:
WARNING: Major spoilers ahead
DAENERYS TARGARYEN ORIGINALLY HAD VIOLET EYES.
In the books, the Targaryen family members are notable for their silver hair and violet eyes. During shooting, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Viserys (Harry Lloyd) Targaryen originally wore violet contact lenses, but Benioff and Weiss decided they negatively impacted the actors’ ability to portray emotion.
CATELYN STARK AND DAENERYS TARGARYEN WERE ORIGINALLY PLAYED BY OTHER ACTORS.
In the original pilot, Catelyn Stark and Daenerys Targaryen were played by Jennifer Ehle and Tamzin Merchant, respectively; by the time the show aired, they had been replaced by Michelle Fairley and Emilia Clarke. George R.R. Martin, who wrote the book series on which Game of Thrones is based, also had a cameo in the original pilot as a guest at Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding.
SEAN BEAN PLAYED SOCCER WITH HIS PROSTHETIC HEAD AFTER DYING.
If anyone should be unfazed by dying on screen, it should be Sean Bean. The dude just doesn’t have a great life expectancy. But after getting beheaded on “Game of Thrones,” the actor admitted during a Reddit AMA that he was a bit creeped out by his prosthetic head. He got over it, though. “We just kicked it around like a football,” Bean said.
PRODUCERS HAVE DEBUNKED THAT ONE HUGE THEORY ABOUT SYRIO.
There’s a big theory among “Game of Thrones” fans that says Arya’s sword trainer Syrio actually survived an encounter with Kingsguard Meryn Trant. Beattie told HuffPost he actually met George R.R. Martin, but forgot to ask about it; however, he did talk to producers, and they agreed Syrio is actually dead.
“He was pretty much defenseless. I was well armored, I had a big effing sword and I think Syrio would’ve bought Arya as much time as possible. I don’t believe Meryn would’ve let him live. I would be surprised if Syrio made an appearance in the future,” Beattie said.
VISERYS’ “GOLD CROWN” WAS ACTUALLY GELATINOUS PAINT.
In a Reddit AMA, Harry Lloyd, otherwise known as Viserys Targaryen, revealed his “gold crown” was a mix of “different special FX.” The actor wrote: “So ingredients include a big bowl of gold-gelatinous-paint … a smoke machine, strapped to my chest … a nice gold cap molded to the shape of my head … a bit of CGI, and some sound FX.”
MAESTER AEMON IS AE-MAZING
Peter Vaughn, the actor who plays the blind Maester Aemon of The Wall, is actually blind in real life. The actor portrays Aemon as a wise and trusted man, and his blindness lends the character a compassionate side not often seen from those on Game of Thrones. Always the calm old man, Maester Aemon has seen a lot of shit in his time, or more accurately, not seen it.
Appearing in 11 episodes, Vaughn does not only share blindness with his character, but he also shares an old age not often seen by those who inhabit Westeros – and certainly not by those who live at Castle Black. In real life, Vaughn is 92 years old, making him – in official Westerosi terms – The Coolest Fucking Maester Around.
THE HORSE HEART KHALEESI ATE IS ACTUALLY SEVEN POUNDS OF A GUMMY BEAR-LIKE MASS.
In one of the series’ most unforgettable scenes, a pregnant Daenerys consumes a raw horse heart to prove herself to the Dothraki people.
“That was one of those amazing scenes that you get as an actor that there’s just no acting required — at all,” actor Emilia Clarke told Vulture. “It was disgusting! They promised me that it would taste similar to a gummy bear and it definitely didn’t.”
Apparently it tasted like bleach. She describes it as being similar to congealed jam with fake blood-sugar and dried pasta — for added texture. Yum.
SANSA ADOPTED HER DIREWOLF, LADY, IRL.
Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, brought Lady home after King Joffrey had her direwolf unnecessarily killed in the series.
“Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one,” she told English newspaper Coventry Telegraph. “We kind of fell in love with my character’s direwolf, Lady, on set.”
She renamed the Northern Inuit dog Zunni.
A LOT OF DEAD CHARACTERS ARE ALIVE IN THE BOOKS.
More than a handful of characters are alive in Martin’s books, but dead on the show. These include: Shireen and Stannis Baratheon, Night’s Watchmen Pyp and Grenn, Barristan Selmy, Myrcella Baratheon, and Mance Rayder.
ONE ACTOR HAS PLAYED FOUR CHARACTERS.
British actor and stunt performer Ian Whyte has played a grand total of four roles on Game of Thrones. In seasons one and two he was a White Walker; also in season two, he played Gregor Clegane (one of three actors to play the role); season three saw him as an unnamed giant; in season five he played the Wildling giant Wun Wun.
TYRION IS THE MAIN CHARACTER.
Well, by math at least. “Only three characters, so far, have been in every episode of a given season. Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Jack Gleeson (King Joffrey Baratheon) were in every episode of Season 1, and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) was in every episode of Season 2 and Season 5,” says the site. When mathematicians analyzed Martin’s novels, they backed up the theory, determining that Peter Dinklage’s character interacted with the most characters, thereby making him central. He has appeared in more episodes than any other character — 54 out of a possible 60, including the Season 6 finale.
THE SERIES ARE HAVING MIND-BLOWING HOLLYWOOD MEGA BLOCKBUSTER BUDGET.
The first season of “Game of Thrones” cost between $50 million and $60 million, or something north of $5 million per episode on average. Even now that’s a lot for a TV show — but HBO has blown past that amount and has foot a bill of more than $100 million for season 6. You can see where the extra funding has gone on the screen.
THE SHOWRUNNERS KNOW HOW THE BOOKS WILL END.
Martin has told Weiss and Benioff the “broad strokes” of how the series will end. “Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be,” Benioff told Vanity Fair. “If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.”