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Daenerys Targaryen were played by Jennifer Ehle and Tamzin Merchant, respectively; by the time the show aired, they had been replaced by Michelle Fairley and Emilia Clarke.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.
The first pilot, directed by Spotlight writer-director Tom McCarthy, was so terrible that it had to be shelved and reshot. “We got everything wrong on a very basic level with the writing of it,” Benioff told Variety. One of the problems? None of the friends he and Weiss invited to watch the pilot “realized that Jaime and Cersei were brother and sister, which is a major, major plot point that we had somehow failed to establish.”
After the pilot was picked up, David Benioff pranked Peter Dinklage by calling him and telling him the show had been cancelled. It was six hours before Dinklage learned otherwise.
Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, adopted Zunni, the Northern Inuit dog that played her pet direwolf on the series’ first season. “Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one,” Turner told Coventry Telegraph in 2013. “We kind of fell in love with my character’s direwolf, Lady, on set. We knew Lady died and they wanted to re-home her. My mum persuaded them to let us adopt her.”
A handful of characters have been played by more than one actor over the course of the show, notably Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein in season three, Michiel Huisman in seasons four, five, and six), Tommen Baratheon (Callum Wharry in seasons one and two, Dean-Charles Chapman in seasons three through six), and his sister Myrcella (Aimee Richardson in seasons one and two, Nell Tiger Free in season five), and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane (Conan Stevens in season one, Ian Whyte in season two, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson in seasons four, five, and six.)
In the books, the Targaryen family 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 showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss decided they negatively impacted the actors’ ability to portray emotion.
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.
The horse heart Daenerys had to eat in season one was essentially a giant gummy candy—one that, per Clarke, tasted a little bit like bleach. To make the proceedings even grosser, all the fake blood made Clarke so sticky that she got stuck to a toilet.
Part of Game of Thrones’ pilot was shot in one of the castles used for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Three seasons later, in “Breaker of Chains,” an unnamed Meereenese warrior shouts a series of taunts at Daenerys that include “Your mother was a hamster,” “Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person,” and “I blow my nose at you” … in Low Valyrian, of course.
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.
Iwan Rheon was the runner-up to play Jon Snow. The role went to Kit Harington, and Rheon went on to play Roose Bolton’s sadistic bastard son, Ramsay, instead.
In 2015, GoT set the record of winning most Emmys in a single year with 12 wins out of 24 nominations. Surprisingly, even with so much detail and expense on wigs and hairstyling, GoT hasn’t won an Emmy for hairstyling yet, despite 5 nominations.
If you are in love with the direwolves every Stark (and Jon) has and you wish to have one of them, then cheer up. The American Alsatian Breeders’ Association have a slow but steady “Direwolf project” aiming to recreate the look of the large prehistoric Dire Wolf (Canis Dirus) in bone and body structure.
The Red Wedding actually happened. Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the betrayal is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and the Massacre of Glencoe from 1692.
GoT has the record of being one of the bloodiest shows ever. With a staggering 133 named characters killed in just the first 4 seasons, it has maintained an average of 4.5 deaths per episode till now. The Red Wedding, being the most brutal among all with 7 named characters killed mercilessly.
HBO spends nearly $60m on each season of GoT. That equals $6m per episode. Although, ‘Friends’ beats GoT here with an approximate cost of $10m per episode, making it the costliest TV show to be aired ever.
GoT has an IMDb rating of 9.5 which makes it the joint first alongside Band of Brothers and Planet Earth. However, GoT has received nearly 5 times the number of ratings compared to Band of Brothers and 10 times compared to Planet Earth. This makes it the most popular show ever. Breaking Bad comes second.
GoT has been the most pirated TV show for straight 4 years i.e., from 2012 to 2015 with an estimated 14.4 million downloads in 2015 through BitTorrent alone. The Walking Dead and TBBT, which are 2nd and 3rd on the list have a total of 11.3 million downloads among them. Season 3 finale alone was downloaded a whopping 5.9 million times.
GRRM is well-known for drawing inspiration for different plots, characters and storylines in his book from real-life incidents. The Valyrian steel, supposed to be the sharpest of all in the GoT universe is inspired from Damascus Steel. The actual process for making Damascus steel has been lost to history just like its Valyrian counterpart. It was made of Wootz steel, which was imported from Southern India.