SAN DIEGO - Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic Con, one of the highlights of the annual gathering of entertainment enthusiasts, with the introduction of new characters to supplant the deceased for season five.
The event for the television hit kicked off with a humorous blooper reel of cast members messing up their lines or falling over while filming dramatic moments of season four, aptly taglined "All Men Must Die," where many of the characters faced grueling challenges, and in some cases, gruesome deaths.
Stars including Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Pedro Pascal and Maisie Williams joined the HBO show's creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and George R.R. Martin, the author of the book series "A Song of Ice and Fire," on which the show is based.
Death was an inevitable part of the panel, given that the show has become known for killing off its major characters in each season, in gory and devastating manners. Williams, who plays fan favourite Arya Stark, said that death was an ongoing concern for her and her character. "Some of us roughly know what happens in the books to our characters, but I know David and Dan (Weiss) have killed characters still alive in books and vice versa, so I just suck up to David and Dan," the actress quipped. "The key for the actors is to never ask for a raise," Martin added with a laugh.
The fantasy drama set on fictional continents has become the most-watched show on Time Warner Inc's cable network HBO, drawing an average gross audience of 18.4 million viewers over season four and growing a loyal fanbase.
The panel was handed over to fans, dressed up as "Game of Thrones" characters such as Jon Snow and Arya Stark, who asked the cast everything from filming in harsh conditions to male nudity. Harington skirted the latter issue with the hopes of not having "to get my kit off next season." Pascal, Rose Leslie and Rory McCann discussed their respective character deaths, and Martin talked about getting into the mindset of his characters. "I'm quite different from the characters - I've never been an exiled princess, a dwarf or an 8-year-old girl, but the common humanity unites all these characters," Martin said.
The show, which shoots in locations all over the world, is known for its explicit content and Benioff and Weiss said the controversial plotlines did cause them to lose a filming location on one occasion.
New characters introduced for season five, which will be traveling to Dorne, the city from which Prince Oberyn Martell hails, include Oberyn's older brother Doran, played by Alexander Siddig, and Doran's son Trystane, played by Toby Sebastian.
Nell Tiger Free will play Myrcella Baratheon, who is betrothed to Trystane, and Jonathan Pryce will play the pious beacon of hope High Sparrow, which the audience received with screams of excitement.