I half-expected the red carpet for the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones to be funereal. This was the end, the last time this cast would gather together to celebrate the start of a new chapter in a story that has captivated (and OK, horrified) millions of people across the world. If I were a cast member on Game of Thrones, I thought I might have been sad. It didn’t take long for me to realize where I went wrong.
The red carpet instead looked like a family reunion. For a group of people who have been kept in the center of the chaos that is Thrones for eight straight years, it was an opportunity for friends and colleagues to celebrate the gauntlet they’d survived, even if their characters didn’t.
In fact, aside from the thrill of seeing legends like Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke swoop by in their premiere best, the most interesting part of the red carpet was seeing the cast members whose time on the show ended long before the final season return to wish the show goodbye. Esmé Bianco, who played the red-haired aspiring madam Ros until season three, told Mashable she wished her character could have had at least one scene where she rode a horse in “any context.”
“I was a bit jealous in the last season when they had all of those battles north of the wall,” she added, “that would have been kind of cool.”
Kristian Nairn, whose role as Hodor made him beloved to anyone with a heart, told reporters that the one character he wished Hodor could have met is the similarly tall Brienne of Tarth. Nairn also pulled the single bossest move of the red carpet by having his people move a chair incrementally down the red carpet so he could relax while talking to press. Nobody else got a Hodor Chair. He was just that cool.
Also, Jason Momoa had the most fun. The most fun. His millennial pink bolero jacket was hard to miss as he darted back and forth across the red carpet, coming back a few times even after he left the press area to the screams of fans outside. I wasn’t sure who he was looking for, and neither was Emilia Clarke, who wondered out loud “where Jason is going” at she walked past reporters.
Eventually he found his wife, Lisa Bonet, and made his final exit from the red carpet blowing kisses to the press. “I love you, I love you,” he shouted. “We love you too,” we mouthed back… or maybe that was just me.
Everyone currently on the show was naturally tight-lipped about what’s to come in the final season of Game of Thrones, so even the vaguest questions about character growth were met with practiced, if funny responses. Conleth Lee told reporters that Varys’ entire show arc could be summed up with the word “consistent,” and Jerome Flynn said the same of Bronn.
When asked to sum up Podrick Payne’s arc in three words, actor Daniel Portman thought for a moment and deadpanned, “It’s an arc.”
Pod is the Night King, confirmed.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to many of the show’s current headliners, but it was still exciting to look up from posting an Instagram story and see Kit Harington jogging to catch up with his wife Rose Leslie or see Gwendoline Christie breeze by in a flowing floral dress that made the crowd outside literally gasp when she emerged.
It’s the job of the entertainment press to be present and report on red carpets, but the closeness of the cast and finality of this premiere made it hard to keep my reporter hat on for the entire event. Sometimes I would look up and see one of the show’s stars run to embrace someone whose hasn’t been on the show in years and realize that I was witnessing a genuinely sweet moment between old friends who have seen some shit.
The red carpet went faster than I expected it to, which I can chalk up to HBO having press events down to a science and the fact that even the people who made the show were just as anxious as fans were to see the first episode of Season 8 as everyone else was. I mean yes, it would be their own faces and named up there on the screen, but I don’t think anyone is immune to the thrill of seeing new Thrones for the first time. Especially with your friends.