The final episode of Game of Thrones aired back in May, but for the cast, the “ending” has been a prolonged experience. There were the Emmys in September, where the show picked up the big trophy for Outstanding Drama Series, not to mention the endless parties and celebrations leading up to the final season. Now, there’s another reason to celebrate: Game of Thrones: The Complete Series is out on Blu-ray and DVD this December. Some of the stars of the show recently gathered at London’s BFI Southbank theater to honor the upcoming release at an event called Game of Thrones: A Celebration.
Nerdist was in attendance, and three memorable actors from the show—Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund), and Gemma Whelan (Yara)—were on-hand to discuss the legacy of the series ahead of a preview of the Conan O’Brien: Reunion Special, which will appear on the box set. All three seemed thrilled to be back to chat about the show that made them stars, and some of their memories of the final season, like when they first realized what would become of their characters.
Hempstead Wright said he got the scripts about a week or two before the cast table read, and that he read all six episodes sitting down in his bedroom. “I was there for a good three hours, and by the end of it I had to physically stand up and walk around the room and go, ‘What? This is happening to me?’” he said, reacting to Bran Stark becoming the King of Westeros in the final episode. “But then I was thrilled. I went through a lot of emotions when I realized I was going to have to keep this as a secret for about a year and a half, which was a nightmare.”
Whelan didn’t remember when she discovered that her character, Yara Greyjoy, would also get a happy ending—by becoming Lady of the Iron Islands—but says she was thrilled. However, she didn’t make the table read because she had given birth just a week before. “I wasn’t able to get on a plane at that time,” she said with a laugh.
Hivju felt proud that Tormund made it to the very end, as the red-haired Wildling seemed like a natural choice to be offed at any moment. “Every season, I was like, ‘When he is going to sacrifice himself for Jon Snow? When when when?’” he said. “And it never came. So I’m happy that he got the ending he got. To survive Game of Thrones is quite an achievement.”
But how would Westeros fare after the war, and with Bran the Broken in charge? “The final time you see Bran, surrounded by the Small Council… it’s a pretty good collection of people,” Hempstead Wright said. “And Bran can keep an eye on everything. He’s [got a] big archive. So no one can get away with anything under Bran’s rule.”
While Bran’s ruling, Hivju said he imagines Tormund and Brienne would reunite—especially now that Brienne’s other love, Jaime, is dead. “That’s the spinoff we want, isn’t it?” he joked. “The Tormund and Brienne sitcom, and how they’re going to rule Castle Black.”
At the end of the day, we’re left with more than just where these characters wound up, but with the stories they brought us along the way.
Whelan had a particularly memorable thing happen recently. As Yara, one of the only queer characters on the series, she’s gotten all sorts of wonderful fan interactions. “At conventions and stuff like that, a lot of young women come to speak to me, saying how Yara and her story encouraged them to be comfortable with who they were.” Recently, one fan even came out to her directly. “She’d never told anyone before. It’s quite a lot when really powerful and brilliantly empowered women say those storylines helped them achieve a little more comfort in who they are and how they are perceived and think about themselves. It’s hugely rewarding.”
It’s moment like those that make us happy Game of Thrones will never really end—because we can always return to it, learning new things about ourselves through these fantastic characters.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Series is available to pre-order now on Blu-ray and DVD, and is officially released on December 3.
Featured Image: HBO