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'Game of Thrones': Maisie Williams talks Arya's season 3 adventures

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Last season on Game of Thrones, the writers decided to pair two characters together for several scenes that were not in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels: A captive young Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) working as a servant for the fearsome Lannister patriarch Tywin (Charles Dance), who doesn’t realize her true royal identity. The move could have backfired. They were lengthy chatty two-characters-in-a-room scenes between a then-14 year-old actress with no prior acting experience before Thrones and a 65-year-old British stage and screen veteran. Instead, they were among fans’ favorite moments of the season, with Williams/Arya holding her own against Dance/Tywin.

“He introduced himself and said, ‘Hello, I’m Charlie,’ and I’m all, ‘No you’re not!’” Williams recalls, having balked at the idea of addressing the actor by his first name. “He commands such respect when he walks in a room. But I could only call him Charlie.”

Fan response to the scenes, Williams says, took her by surprise. “I didn’t really go into scenes thinking they were going to be as popular as they were, but they were great fun,” she says while hanging out with Sophie Turner (Sansa) at the show’s production hotel in Belfast last September. “The books are fantastic but sometimes people are a little too protective of the story lines.”

Williams has been particularly effective at giving a devastating dead stare that seems beyond her years. “A lot of actors and actresses pull from past experiences,” she says. “I’m really good at convincing myself somebody’s killed my dad and sometimes I get myself really annoyed. You know sometimes when you’re in a really bad mood and you’re not sure why? That’s how I get sometimes. That’s the great fun about acting you can pretend to be somebody else all day.” READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': Richard Madden teases Robb Stark's season 3

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So far, Robb Stark has been the king of off-screen battles on Game of Thrones.

The Stark heir remains undefeated on the battlefield against the Lannisters, yet has had more romance and drama than on-camera action scenes in the epic fantasy series. That might change in season 3. “He gets his sword in his hands,” actor Richard Madden teases. “But the thing with Robb is he never wants to kill.”

When the season opens, Robb’s army is in desperate shape. Winning battles has been easy; it’s winning a war that’s a problem. Struggling to defeat the Lannister forces and avenge his father’s death, Stark’s camp-life is a mess.

“He’s got all sorts of plans in place in order to actually win his war, but he’s running on empty at the moment,” says Madden, whose character last season married a kind field medic (Oona Chaplin). “He doesn’t know where his brothers or sisters are, or if they’re still alive. He’s constantly chasing the Lannisters and they’re constantly running from him. His own men are kind of revolting. So they’re exhausted, they’re starving and he’s at the end of his tether.”

Plus, Robb’s still holding his mother (Michelle Fairley) as a prisoner for openly defying his orders — so that’s awkward. “He comes to an understanding of why she did what,” he says. READ FULL STORY

'The Office,' 'Revolution,' 'Castle,' 'Game of Thrones': Find out what's next in the Spoiler Room

Happy Hump Day, readers. 

Sorry I don’t have much time to chat; I’m working on a super secret project that I have to keep super secret just a little while longer before sharing it with you. But definitely keep an eye on my Twitter account for some upcoming exciting news.

In the meantime, enjoy this week’s scoopfest, join me in shrieking with joy about this week’s cover, and please continue sending in your great questions to spoilerroom@ew.com.

‘THE OFFICE’: HAPPY ENDING FOR ANDY/ERIN?

When Erin first came on the scene at the Office, I was convinced they were setting her up to be Mrs. Andy Bernard. But their romance has certainly unfolded differently than I expected, especially in the last few weeks, as we saw Erin break it off with Andy so she could be with Pete.

But will the two find their way back to each other before the end of the season? READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': Sophie Turner on fans bashing Sansa

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Thrones Countdown #7: Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams were hanging out in public one day when they were approached by a Game of Thrones fan. Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on the show, and Williams, who plays Arya Stark, had struck up an immediate friendship when they first met at their Thrones auditions (Williams recalls leaving her test thinking, “Even if I don’t get the part of Arya I want Sophie to get the part of Sansa.”) So this fan comes up to the actresses and says to Williams, “You’re my favorite,” and then says to Turner, “You’re my least favorite.”

And that, of course, was totally rude. But it’s a reaction Turner says she received a surprising amount of since starting on the show — at least during the show’s first year or so. “At first it kind of came as a shock because people didn’t like Sansa; she isn’t a fan favorite,” says the 17-year-old Turner, who landed the role after her drama teacher encouraged her to try out for the HBO series. “A lot of fans that recognize me go, ‘I kind of hate you,’ and I’m all, ‘Cool, well, you’ve just made this sufficiently awkward.’ I thought I was being personally attacked, but I knew I wasn’t. It was all new to me.”

Some fans are doubtless reading this and wondering, “Why would anybody hate Sansa?” She’s totally sympathetic, Turner nails the part and last season had some terrific scenes (and has some of her best work yet coming up in season three). There’s probably a few factors at play. One is that, in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels that Game of Thrones is based on, Sansa is less sympathetic than on the show (she told Cersei her father’s plans to take his family away from King’s Landing in the first book, accidentally playing a pivotal role in his eventual execution — many book-readers still haven’t forgiven her for that). Even on the show, initially Sansa came across, by design, naive and selfish, protecting the devious Joffrey instead of her sister Arya in an early dispute. And then there’s the whole sibling-comparison factor — Robb Stark is fighting a war, bastard-born Jon Snow is infiltrating the Wildling camp, Arya is a badass tomboy, Bran and Rickon Stark are on the run (so to speak). They’re all taking charge of their destinies. Sansa is a hostage, alternately pampered and tormented. Her character has been less heroic, but she’s increasingly admirable and likable as the show progresses. READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': Best season 3 trailer yet -- VIDEO

Sure, we just posted a Game of Thrones trailer yesterday, but now there’s this one: The most action-packed season 3 preview yet. There’s sword fights with flaming swords, armies, ice climbing, smooching, and some new dragon footage. In fact, if you haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s books and already plan to watch season 3, you might want to skip this one since it’s pretty spoilery. READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': Nikolaj Coster-Waldau talks Jaime's season 3 struggle

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Viewed from a distance, the scene is picturesque and romantic.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, playing the complicated Game of Thrones villain Jaime Lannister, sits atop a lush Northern Ireland mountain top overlooking a green valley that sweeps down to the sea. It looks like a vacation postcard. Who wouldn’t want to be there? Except when you’re actually next to him, on the ground, your opinion of the scene is quite different. It’s very cold. It’s pouring rain. The wind is gusting and unceasing. You’re standing in mud — except, ugh, that isn’t mud. Even inside a cramped craft services tent, there’s no escaping the elements. And since he’s on camera shooting his scene over and over again, nobody is enduring more of Mother Nature’s hammering than Coster-Waldau. Yet when he gets a break to speak to a huddle of shivering reporters, he has a big grin. You’re suspicious of the grin. He’s an actor — is he faking this?

“I actually really like it,” he insists. “It’s really cold, that’s not nice. But it makes the work easier. You just react to the elements and they help you.”

And nobody has had more “help” on this show than Coster-Waldau. Last season Jaime Lannister spent nearly the entire shoot  chained in a muddy cage as Robb Stark’s prisoner. Yet other actors on the show and the producers insist he always makes the best of tough environments.

“The hardest scenes to do are sitting around a table talking,” Coster-Waldau says. “Good acting is when you don’t think. I don’t want to see the mechanics of a performance. Sometimes you can see, ‘Oh, that’s what he’s doing.’” READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' new beast trailer shows Jaime vs. Brienne

Another weekend, another Game of Thrones trailer, this one titled “The Beast” and adding some more tantalizing glimpses of season 3. There’s Tyrion and a mysterious crate, an exchange between Mance Rayder and Jon Snow, a glimpse of sexy Ygritte in a cave and, most intriguingly, Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth facing off with swords on a bridge (and who’s the guy in the hood, anyway?).

Thrones returns March 31 and we’ll resume our 15 Days of Thrones series tomorrow (previous links below): READ FULL STORY

How 'Game of Thrones' conquered Kit Harington's injury to keep Jon Snow fighting

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Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington came home to his London flat last July after a night of partying and realized he lost the keys. No problem. He’d just climb into his first-floor window. Then he fell.

“Everyone always says you must have done it on set horse riding or running across glaciers or something cool,” sighs Harington about his shattered ankle. “I was an idiot. The ‘invincibility of youth’ and all that. I couldn’t even blame it on a film set. And I had avoided skiing for ages because I thought I’d break my ankle!”

The timing of his injury could have been worse. Season three, with Harington resuming his role as heroic Nights Watch member Jon Snow, was set to start production a couple weeks after his mishap, though the bulk of Harington’s scenes — particularly those shot in Iceland — weren’t scheduled until the winter. “I looked at scripts this year and there was a lot of action, more than last year,” Harington says. “But we could have been in more trouble had it happen [later in the year].”

To get a sense of the his injury’s importance, it’s helpful to have a sense of the Game of Thrones production machine. It’s larger than any TV show and takes longer to shoot each year than most feature films. There’s 160,000 square feet of sets and 27 series regulars. Season 3 had a trio of production units shooting in five countries (Croatia, Northern Ireland, Morocco, Iceland and a few scenes in the United States). When fans ask why HBO doesn’t order more than 10 episodes per season, producers say it’s the maximum number this whole operation can really handle while maintaining the show’s quality.

So what happens when key piece of that complex production machine gets temporarily benched?

READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' producers on season 3 dragons: They're bigger now

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Walking through the Game of Thrones prop room in Belfast is like browsing the aisles of a Pier One in Westeros. There’s all sorts of exotic furniture, decorations, knick nacks and the occasional dismembered head (no weapons — those are kept in the armory). Near the center of the room, sealed in a crate like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders…there is a dragon.

Well, it’s a model dragon, the latest version that was created for season three. The model is used as a placeholder for actors to work against on the set, then a computer-generated dragon is inserted during the show’s post-production process. The first thing you notice is the dragon’s size. The creature no longer looks like an exotic bird that Daenerys Targaryen (Emila Clarke) can put on her shoulder. It’s now like a medium-sized dog. Only if you were to put this thing on a leash and walk it around a park, other pet owners would run screaming (you only get a slight sense of its increased fearsomeness in the current trailer, which shows a dragon flying from behind).

Over on the Thrones set, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss sit at wooden table that’s lavishly adorned for King Joffrey’s dinner feast. They compare the dragons’ growth to the way a baby crocodile or rottweiler can start off cute, then turn into a monster.  “This is an interesting time for the dragons,” Benioff says. “When they were born they were adorable. Last season, as you say, they were still kind of cute. But now they’re turning into proper flying dragons. One of the interesting things about the books, and hopefully the show, is that the weapons of mass destruction in this world are living breathing things. And as they get older that presents problems.”

READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': You know nothing about Ygritte's catchphrase in season 3

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When Rose Leslie got the call from her agent that she was landed the role of Ygritte on Game of Thrones, her reaction was explosive.

The actress had already enjoyed an arc on one international hit (Downton Abbey), but she really wanted the role of the fiery Wildling scout who spars and flirts with the virginal Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Then one day she was walking in the center of London. “I remember the day very well, I don’t think it will ever leave me,” she recalls. “I got a call from my agent and he told me the good news and I was jumping up and down like a manic. It was phenomenal. I’m incredibly privileged to play Ygritte. She’s such a fiercely independent character and I love playing her. I was ecstatic.”

After getting cast, Leslie dove into the books (she’s currently on Book 4). “I wanted to throw myself into the world of Westeros,” she says. As a member of the Wildling tribe, the actress shoots the bulk of her outdoor scenes in Iceland. She says the toughest thing about the extreme environment isn’t the cold, but walking in thick snow while trying to stay in character on camera. “You become very aware that this is Ygritte’s home, she’s incredibly comfortable in this particular surrounding,” Leslie says. “You can’t look like you’re working so hard to trudge up a hill. I’m like panting inside.”

This season, which debuts March 31, Ygritte will get closer to Jon Snow as he infiltrates the Wildling camp. We’ve previously seen some strong hints about how tough Ygritte is, this season she’ll have more opportunities to show that she’s every bit as much of a warrior as the Wildling men (and demonstrates she’s pretty handy with a bow and arrow). READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': Christie on being 'too pretty' to play Brienne

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Gwendoline Christie is too tied up to give an interview.

In a gorgeous forest glade in Northern Ireland last September, the actress is dressed in armor and sitting atop a horse. Her arms and hands are bound with sturdy rope. “I can only shake hands with my eyes,” she says with a grin.

When the director orders “action,” Christie, as Game of Thrones fan-favorite knight Brienne of Tarth, jumps off the horse and muscles through some henchmen. On the show it all looks quick and simple. In person, the action is more impressive because of Christie’s bulky costume and bindings — just try jumping down onto uneven ground without the use of your arms. Luckily, ever since landing the role of Brienne two years ago, Christie has engaged in heavy physical training for the part. The rigorous dedication will pay off more than ever in season three as her character undertakes a very challenging journey while trying to return the captive kingslayer Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to King’s Landing.

“We last saw her as a female knight who was very much having to prove herself and find her place and find her place in society because she doesn’t have a natural place where she fits in,” Christie says after the crew releases her from her bindings. “By the end of [the season] she has a mission, which she believes is for the greater good. [Season 3] focuses on [Brienne and Jaime's] relationship and the journey those two human beings go on is extraordinary. We see her in situations trying to survive in ways that extend beyond her physical strength. And we start to see her explore her womanhood, what it is, for her, to be a woman. She’s starts to find out more about herself and about very basic human emotions — attachment to someone else and what honor really means to her. In this ridiculous and extreme situation of high drama, she starts to really find out who she is and what she believes in.” READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones': Want to see a $15,000 'Thrones' painting?

Below are more artistic takes on the world of HBO’s Game of Thrones courtesy of Austin’s Mondo Gallery. The images are part of an exhibit that opened Friday, timed to the start of the South by Southwest film festival. Earlier we showed you the two posters in the exhibit that are being sold as prints. Here’s 10 original pieces from the exhibit. If you want to buy the first one, however, you have to pay a heap of Golden Dragons and Silver Stags — $15,000 for an oil painting that includes several of the Thrones-verse fan-favorite characters. The rest are more modestly priced. READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' awesome Mondo posters unveiled at SXSW -- EXCLUSIVE

HBO is re-teaming with Austin’s Mondo art gallery to create collectable posters capturing the world of Game of Thrones.

Below are the first two posters in a series of eight creative images that will be unveiled starting today at the gallery’s new Thrones event. Mondo, the collectible art division of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is launching the poster series on the first day of the South by Southwest music/film/interactive conference, which is seeing an increased TV industry presence this year (Showtime, NBC, The CW, A&E, Bravo and USA are among the networks with events planned).

Mondo and Thrones previous teamed for a poster series at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con. “Game of Thrones is a favorite of ours at Mondo,” says Mondo CEO Justin Ishmael. “The gallery event is intended to honor the show’s attention to visual detail and the beautiful world that George R.R. Martin has imagined … we hope the fans feel our work has done justice to the show.” The gallery event will also debut the official Game of Thrones beer — Iron Throne, “a delicate, but piercing Golden Blonde Ale with Noble hops, a nod to having a Lannister currently on the Throne.”

Two posters will be unveiled each week until Thrones season three premieres on March 31. Here’s the first two:

UPDATE: 10 more Game of Thrones posters unveiled — including one that costs $15,000.

READ FULL STORY

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