Just as “Game of Thrones” is coming to an end, HBO is working on breathing new life into Westeros with a prequel pilot that will flesh out some of the series’ backstory that all you die-hard fans have been craving for years.
While details are few and far between at the moment, we know way more than we probably would about the project, thanks to George R.R. Martin. The “A Song of Ice and Fire” series author is helping to develop the project and he refuses to stop teasing it.
1. We know who is in charge.
Ordered to pilot last year, the project from Martin and “Kingsman” screenwriter Jane Goldman is set thousands of years before the events of the current “Game of Thrones” series in the era known as the “Age of Heroes.”
Goldman wrote the pilot from a story she developed alongside Martin. She will serve as showrunner and will executive produce alongside Martin, James Farrel, Jim Danger Gray, Vince Gerardis and Daniel Zelman. Chris Symes is co-executive producer.
S.J. Clarkson (who is helming the next “Star Trek” movie) will direct.
2. We’ve got a description.
According to HBO, the drama “chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend … it’s not the story we think we know.”
3. We (possibly) know what it’s called, thanks to George R.R. Martin.
Maybe it’s “The Long Night,” maybe it’s not “The Long Night.” All we know is that Martin for sure said it was — and then retracted that statement after HBO “informed” him it’s still currently untitled.
4. We’ve got some stars.
Naomi Watts has been cast in a leading role for the (supposedly) untitled project, along with Josh Whitehouse.
Watts will play a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret, but further details about her character and the plot are not being made public, while no character details are currently available for Whitehouse’s part on the prequel pilot.
Series regulars also include Naomi Ackie (who will next appear in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars” franchise), Denise Gough (“Guerrilla,” “Angels in America”), Jamie Campbell Bower (“Twilight,” “Mortal Instruments”), Sheila Atim (“Harlots”), Ivanno Jeremiah (“Black Mirror”), Georgie Henley (“The Chronicles of Narnia”), Alex Sharp (“To the Bone”) and Toby Regbo (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”).
5. It won’t have Targaryens — and maybe no dragons.
While discussing his new book “Fire and Blood” — which catalogs the history of Westeros before the current events of his “A Song of Ice and Fire” books and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ fantasy series — the author teased more about the upcoming project, which is set 10,000 years before “GoT.”
“‘10,000 years’ is mentioned in the novels,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published in November, while addressing how “recognizable” the series will be for fans. “But you also have places where maesters say, ‘No, no, it wasn’t 10,000, it was 5,000.’ Again, I’m trying to reflect real-life things that a lot of high fantasy doesn’t reflect. In the Bible, it has people living for hundreds of years and then people added up how long each lived and used that to figure out when events took place. Really? I don’t think so. Now we’re getting more realistic dating now from carbon dating and archeology. But Westeros doesn’t have that. They’re still in the stage of ‘my grandfather told me and his grandfather told him.’ So I think it’s closer to 5,000 years.”
“But you’re right. Westeros is a very different place,” Martin continued. “There’s no King’s Landing. There’s no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens — Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built. We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series. [Goldman] is a tremendous talent. She flew into Santa Fe and we spent a week talking about her ideas. She’s going into territory that I haven’t explored very much in the books. I’ve hinted about them. But she’s a major writer, I love her work.”
6. It’s the only pilot HBO is moving forward with — for now.
HBO chief Casey Bloys told reporters during the Television Critics Association press tour last July that of the five “Thrones” spinoff scripts in development, Goldman’s is the only one they are putting into production. “The reason we did multiple scripts in the development process, [we knew] out of five we’d be lucky to get one we’re excited about,” he said. While he didn’t confirm the others are dead, we have yet to see any movement on them since he made that statement.
7. Production is supposed to begin in early 2019 — just as “Game of Thrones” is coming to an end.
“Our hope is that it would shoot, you know, first half of ’19,” Bloys told TheWrap during TCA. “I don’t know where the October came from,” he added, referencing a Belfast Telegraph story from June that first reported the prequel pilot would go into production in Belfast this October. “I’m guessing maybe they wanted it to be? [laughs] But there was no truth to that.”
8. The “Game of Thrones” showrunners aren’t involved.
Weiss and Benioff will have nothing to do with the prequel series, and will be moving on from the franchise after “GoT” airs its final season, starting in April 2019.
And, because you don’t need to let go of the OG series just yet, you can read everything we know about the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” here.