We are now only one month from the April 14 premiere of the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” And in honor of that landmark series coming to an end, the folks over at EW sat down with Season 1 star Sean Bean to discuss what he remembers of the early days of the series, including the mysterious pilot episode that never aired.
For those not completely steeped in the lore surrounding “Game of Thrones,” you might not know that the pilot episode that aired on HBO way back in April 2011 is not the first episode of the series. In fact, the original pilot was very different than what was shown on HBO, including Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys, before the part was recast with Emilia Clarke.
Other than that, not much is known about the pilot, as the creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have yet to release any footage from the episode. But, in the interview, Sean Bean, who famously played Ned Stark in the first season, explains what he remembers being the main differences between the episode that aired and the original pilot.
“I think there were some very good moments [in the original pilot],” said Bean. “ It was experimental in some ways. I think they were trying to portray what could be achieved: the kind of wonder and awe, the vast scale and complexity, all these war-faring tribes, the magic, the beauty, and the treachery. I think trying to get that into a pilot may have been difficult, and perhaps the story was lost a little.”
He continued, “But nevertheless, it gave you a sense of what it could be. We were just going along with what was down there [on the page], but though they didn’t use the pilot in its entirety, they used certain moments, and I think the pilot served its purpose. As I said, it shows you what could be done and certainly what was done thereafter.”
The actor goes on to explain some specific differences between the episodes.
“I remember a scene with Bran in the old tree and [his parents are] talking to him about life,” explained the actor. “He was very young at the time, when Isaac [Hempstead] was playing the part. There are some nice scenes with [Maisie Williams as Arya]. I quite enjoyed those scenes because there was a lot of horrible backstabbing going on, and I think those scenes stood out because they were very natural and people could identify with them: a father and his children. I also remember the banquet, which was quite interesting. We shot it in Scotland, and it was a banquet with King Robert. All the families were coming together, there was a real feeling of this horrible tension, which represents what we did afterwards.”
Of course, you can’t talk about Ned Stark and the first season of “Game of Thrones” without mentioning, you know, the whole decapitation thing. And according to Bean, filming the scene was a lot sillier than you might expect.
“Everyone was there, and with things like that there’s a sort of gallows humor to it,” he said. “It’s awful what’s happening, and you start giggling and laughing. When the head fell off, there were mistakes. It didn’t quite work out sometimes. It was quite comic. So it breaks the ice a bit.”
The final season of “Game of Thrones” premieres on April 14, with the final episode expected to air May 19.