Game of Thrones Season 7: Clues from the cast
Fans can expect a cracking pace, epic battle scenes and at least one big-name musical cameo
As UK fans prepare for the return of Game of Thrones in the early hours of Monday morning, the show's cast has given viewers their final clues and a handful of critics have also weighed in with intel.
Last night in Los Angeles, the cast, crew and a select group from the media attended a screening of the first episode of the seventh season of the fantasy epic, Dragonstone.
GQ's Jonathon Thompson, who attended the preview, admits he can't give much away, but he does have a few spoiler-free comments and some advice.
Critics aren't the only ones talking, as the cast also gave the Hollywood Reporter final interviews, offering their own clues about what's in store.
Here's what we've learned.
Don't believe everything you've heard
Thompson warns fans that HBO has taken elaborate steps to undermine the endless trickle of rumours and leaks, going so far as to set up fake shoots to confuse the leakers. Kit Harington reportedly spent 15 hours filming with the "fake unit". And it's worked, Thompson says, pointing out that the opening is entirely unexpected and "beautifully serendipitous".
Few new cast members but some big cameos
As GoT enters its endgame, Thompson says viewers can expect to see fewer new cast members but there are some notable cameos, including Jim Broadbent as Samwell Tarly's mentor at Oldtown's Citadel. He adds that we should expect at least one major musician to make a guest appearance.
Things get bigger
Thompson notes that Daenerys Targaryen's dragons have grown "to the size of 747s", but he says that everything is bigger this season including the fighting. The critic tells fans to expect "epic, sweeping battle scenes worthy of a big-budget Hollywood action movie". He adds that everything is ramped up, even by Thrones’ standards.
Gendry is back
Observant fans will remember that Gendry (Joe Dempsie), bastard son of Robert Baratheon, met and befriended Arya Stark on the road north. Davos later helped him escape Stannis and Melisandre in a row boat. Dempsie was at the premiere and Thompson confirms that he is back in season seven, although fans will have to wait until mid-way through to find out the significance of his role.
Things get faster
Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, cast members agreed that the pace picks up in the new season. Harington (Jon Snow) says the new season is "incredibly fast". Harington said he felt like he was reading a different show when he looked at the scripts. "I read it and couldn't really believe what I was reading, since we've set the bar for slow-paced TV over the years, with characters not meeting when you think they're going to meet. It was almost frustratingly slow. Now, everything's changed. Everything ramps up."
Geography plays a part
One of the reasons for the growing intensity of the series is that the map is shrinking, with disparate characters from across the kings converging to confront each other. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) told The Hollywood Reporter: "We're so used to having characters in different parts of this world. Now, they're all very close. It's difficult to get into because we don't want to spoil the show, but you do feel this momentum."
Fans won't be short-changed
Conleth Hill (Varys) notes that some fans are upset because they think they are being cheated by getting seven and six episodes respectively from the two remaining seasons, instead of 10 and 10. In fact, the actors says, they were only meant to get 10 episodes in total, not thirteen. "You're getting an extra three, rather than less," Hill pointed out.
Game of Thrones season seven returns Monday, 17 July, 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.