Q. How does the final season of Game of Thrones begin for your characters?
RD: Well, I’m on The Wall with Tormund. The Wall comes down, me and Tormund make it – that’s not a spoiler otherwise I wouldn’t be talking to you!
Q. How will Beric Dondarion be affected by what he’s seen? Because of course the others haven’t seen the army that’s coming as yet?
RD: Well, Beric is not easily shaken because he has died six times! He’s seen a lot; he’s been to hell and back. He’s a great warrior: he just goes, “Okay, let’s go get them.” That’s just him, he is fearless.
I think he’s fearless because he knows that as long as he’s alive, he hasn’t served his purpose. He’s a religious man: he knows he would welcome death as long as he knows that when he does die, it will be for a good reason. He’s literally waiting for it.
Q. Does the death of Thoros mean that he can’t come back again?
RD: Yes. Next time he’s toast. The next one is the big one.
Q. How about Ser Davos? Where do we find him?
LC: We were all going to fight the enemy. Sansa will not be enamored with Daenerys and she doesn’t trust Jon. They’re all expecting, in a sense, the opposite of what Beric is expecting. If he dies, it was for a reason. With almost everybody else if we die, it’s a loss of everything – the Seven kingdoms, Westeros, the whole lot.
They’ve got a tiny army against these magical people who are incredibly difficult to kill. It’s Custer’s last stand really, isn’t it? And that’s great – what’s gorgeous about the start of this final season is that before the titles are up, the tension is up.
The audience have an expectation of it. I can imagine the feeling around the globe when they hear that theme tune will be a worldwide rubbing of hands: “Here we go.” People are getting back on the roller coaster.
Q. When you got the scripts, were you intrigued to see how David and Dan would wrap it up?
LC: Yes, obviously. A couple of years ago, George was asked about it and he said the end will be “bitter sweet,” At the time there was a pregnant pause and everybody went, “What does that mean?” But I think it’s actually an accurate statement from what I’ve read.
I’m sure there’s going to be a number of people who’ll moan about the end. There’s also going to be a lot of sane people that say, “Look, it’s been a grown up show made by grown ups for grown ups.” If we tied every loose end up, people would go, “You’re patronizing us.” You know what I mean? I think the vast majority of people will be very satisfied with the ending.
Q. Does this season feel larger in scale than the last? Is that even possible?
RD: Yes. Every season has got bigger and bigger. It has to keep improving. I think without giving anything away, there are huge spectacle pieces in this. I’m still wowed by some of the things I’ve seen this year.
The other thing about it is even with $100m dollar action movies you look at them and you can tell – even the sets are CGI. But you walk on to a set on Game of Thrones and it’s real. There’ll be a bit of green screen but in the main the sets are so impressive. They’re like cathedrals walking into them. They’re just beautiful.
LC: I completely agree with that. Those sets that we worked on this year: the first words out of almost everybody’s mouth was, “F**k me!” Really, that kind of level of stuff. As Benioff has said, we’ve been shooting 10 episodes for most of the seasons. Ten episodes in about six months. This time it’s the reverse – six episodes and it’s taken us nearly a year to get them right. The scale was absolutely extraordinary, the ambition fantastic.
Q. Was there a moment for both of you when it you realised Game of Thrones had gone beyond a TV show to become a cultural phenomenon?
LC: It’s very odd: I was watching someone the other day talking about something being ‘like Game of Thrones.’ When people get that reference and when you don’t need to explain anymore, then you know you’ve entered that weird area of being part of the cultural tapestry.
RD: You can’t let yourself think of the size of it. You have to keep the same instincts, do your day’s work and stick to the script. It’s always the script.
Q. Every actor got a framed storyboard when they wrapped. What was yours?
RD: Aha! Can’t tell you that! But I can tell you that on my final day I was sitting there and I was covered in blood and the eye patch was still on and someone said to me, “Are you going to miss it?” I just cried.
I could not believe it – I haven’t been in it from day one like some of you guys but it was just that, ‘Oh, my God. We’re saying goodbye to all of this.’ I was surprised by the emotion that hit me when I was asked the question.
LC: It’s very odd. You’re doing your day’s work. You’re trying to concentrate. It’s the last day, people are not saying anything. They just go, “All right. Last one.” You try to be all manly about it.
Then, David and Dan came in with the gifts and made speeches. Gave me my storyboard – from season 2, where we’ve been blown off the ship – and on the back of them there’s a message from the lads on the back. Really sweet stuff. I hung up my costume, took a photo of it and that was that.
Stream the eighth and final season on HBO GO(available App Store, Google Play.
In Singapore, watch Game of Thrones on HBO (Starhub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420) and HBO On Demand.