Think you know a thing or two about Game of Thrones? Well, do you recognize these tidbits from the lore, cast, and set of HBO's hit television series?
1. Maester Aemon Is Really Blind
Peter Vaughan, the actor who plays the wise and wrinkled Maester Aemon Targaryen on the show certainly looks pretty convincing in his blindness. However, that is because he is truly partially blind. Those milky irises are contacts for the effect of cataracts. He was not born with such an affliction, but it's pretty easy to come by when you are 90 years old.
2. Dire Need of Direwolves
Ever wonder what happens to the direwolves after they finish their very short run on Game of Thrones? While many of them went back to their original owners, the direwolf that played Sansa's ill-fated companion Lady was destined to be rehomed to a new family. Sansa had fallen in love with her on the set and convinced the breeder to let her adopt the Northern Inuit dog named Zunni. Additional fun fact, Zunni's grandsons made a cameo on the show as the direwolf pups in the first episode.
3. Name Confusion
On the show, Theon's sister is named Yara, but those who have read the books will know her better as Asha. When planning to introduce Yara/Asha Greyjoy in Season 2, producers thought that audiences might confuse her with Osha, the Wildling woman that was captured slave and friend of the Stark children at Winterfell.
4. The Dothraki Tongue
The language that the Dothraki speak in Game of Thrones was created specifically for the show by linguist David J. Peterson. Peterson drew inspiration for the language from the description and words already created in the books as well as languages such as Turkish, Russian, Estonian, Inutitut and Swahili. Although many Game of Thrones viewers thought the language they were hearing was Arabic. However, it is a completely fictional language that has 3,163 words as of 2011, not all of which have been made public.
Peterson also created the Valyrian language and added a Schutean Compound to Dothraki after Dwight Schute learned the language on the television show The Office and used it in a unique new dialect that intrigued him.
5. An Uncertain Future
It's no secret George R.R. Martin is getting up in years. Both show watchers and book readers are concerned he may not make it to the end of the Game of Thrones / Song of Ice and Fire series. However, the author has contingency plans in place. At the start of the Game of Thrones television series, he sat the show's producers - D.B. Weiss and David Benioff - down and revealed the ending to his book series, just in case he got hit by a bus....or something.
6. A Wall with Historic Precedent
While some have speculated that the massive ice-and-rock Wall that guards the northern borders of Westeros from Wildlings, Grumpkins and Snarks (also maybe those white walkers too, whatever) was based on the Great Wall of China, author George R.R. Martin actually based it on Hadrian's Wall in Britain. While the Great Wall of China protected the Chinese dynasties from Mongol hordes, Hadrian's Wall protected Rome's furthest boundary in Britain from the fierce Pict tribes.
7. Chewy Hearts
That massive bloody horse heart that Daenerys ate for Khal Drogo and the rest of the of the Dothraki clan was actually a lot less gross than it looked. The whole thing was actually a three-pound mass of a gummy bear-like substance bathed in fake blood. Apparently, both the heart and blood were cherry flavored.
8. Peter Dinklage, The One. The Only.
When casting the first season of Game of Thrones, author George R.R. Martin only had one actor in mind to play the sassy, yet unfortunate dwarf character of Tyrion Lannister - Peter Dinklage. If he had refused, Martin had no idea whatsoever as to what to do with the character. Luckily, he accepted and brought his friend Lena Headey along with him with the strong recommendation to let her play Cersei.
9. This Scene
It may look like the actors who play Jon Snow, Robb Stark and Theon Greyjoy are acting in this fan-swooning scene from season one of Game of Thrones, but producer David Benioff divulged the truth. All three actors were in a competition to see who could look the most muscular during the scene. All three of them did sit ups before the scene almost to the point of throwing up. Benioff states: "They're not acting, they're just holding their breath and flexing."
10. A Step Too Far
It's no secret that Alfie Allen, the actor that plays Theon Greyjoy, is the brother of famous singer Lily Allen. However, what fans don't know is that Lily Allen was actually approached to play Yara Greyjoy, Theon's sister, on the show. She declined after learning that she would have to let him basically feel her up on screen. Yikes!
11. King Joffery May Never Act Again
After his onscreen death on Game of Thrones, Jack Gleeson, the actor that played King Joffery, announced that his acting days are done. However, it's not because he's afraid as always being typecast as that horrible, cruel boy king, but rather because he just doesn't enjoy it anymore.
"I started acting when I was eight, and really, really loved it," Gleeson told a class at University College Dublin. "But I think when it became less of a recreation and more of a profession, it kind of put more pressure on the acting itself and made it a tiny bit less enjoyable.”
He has made plans to return to college and continue with his humanitarian works.
12. Peter Dinklage and the Mysterious Meat
Peter Dinklage, the actor that plays Tyrion Lannister on the show, is actually a very strict vegetarian. However, Tyrion is a character that enjoy all things tasty - wine, women, and meat. Any meat that fans see him eat on the show is actually made of tofu, cooked and colored to look like the designed dish.
13. A Demanding, Famous Throne
The Iron Throne as seen in Game of Thrones is actually made in a similar way as it described in the books. No, dragon fire wasn't use to fuse thousands of swords together, but real steel swords were heated and fused together to make it over a wood frame. Interestingly enough, Gandalf's sword Glamdring from the Lord of the Ring's films is among the mass.
14. It's All About That Bass, Not the Hodor
When not playing the mono-verbal gentle giant on Game of Thrones, the actor that plays Hodor, Kristian Nairn, is actually a DJ. A really, really big one. At 6"10', he dominates the turntables in Belfast where he frequently plays.
15. One Big Family
Can't seem to keep track of all the cast in Game of Thrones? Don't worry, you're not alone. Game of Thrones has the largest cast in television history. The second season alone had 257 named characters with the list only skyrocketing with each following season as new areas of Westeros and Essos were introduced, each with their own unique people.
16. Bring Me the Severed Head of George W. Bush
In the heads on a pike scene near the end of season one, one of the heads up there is actually that of George W. Bush in a wig. This isn't some political message by the producers; they merely had the head laying around (for whatever reason). It was cheaper to reuse than make a new one.
17. A Unique Explanation
Game of Thrones single-handedly coined a new directing term for all media to come - sexposition. Sexposition is used in reference to explaining plot points in Game of Thrones while featuring gratuitous amounts of sex during. It's the favourite tool of the show's producers, but everyone already knows that.
Emilia Clarke and her character Daenerys is frequently subjected to being douse with tons of fake blood. However, she divulged a funny tidbit to the media that on one particularly gruesome take they covered her so thoroughly that she got stuck to a toilet seat. There's no word on how she got unstuck, but I think we can all fill in the blanks in our own humorous way.
19. In The Game of Sandwiches, You Win or You Starve
Lena Headey and Sean Bean may have had palpable tension on screen as Queen Cersei and Ned Stark, but that tension carried over behind the camera as well. Apparently, during Sean Bean's stint on the show, he was constantly on the hunt for Lena Headey's lunchtime sandwich. He celebrated successes and failures in the venture. It was, of course, all in good fun though.
20. No Spoilers, Please!
Never read the book series? Don't feel bad, most actors and actresses with major parts in the Game of Thrones series have never read the books either. Most think that knowing the fate of their characters might affect the way in which they portray them. Well, that's most of their reasons anyway. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, was forbidden to read them by her mother who thought they were too grown up for a young girl.
21. How Old Are You, Again?
Gwendoline Christie, the 6"3' tower of awesomeness that plays Brienne of Tarth doesn't know her birthday. While that is a well spread fact, it is only half true. She knows that she was born in 1978, but neither she nor her mother can remember the exact day or month. How exactly does that happen? No one knows.
22. All About the Details
Every prop in Game of Thrones is ridiculously detailed. Every book that gets onscreen time has at least 20 pages of actual details from the world of Game of Thrones done in authentic writing so the book's reader can realistically flip through it. The majority of the swords, particularly the major named ones, are made from real steel by famous blacksmith, Hollywood prop designer and Youtube Man at Arms sensation Tony Sutton. Even the clothing, particularly the dresses, tell a story of their own. The set clothing designer quotes that Sansa's wedding dress tells the story of how she went from Tully to Stark and became entangled with the Lannisters.
23. Birds of a Feather
The behavior of dragons in Game of Thrones is based on two different animals. When they are crooning with their mother being stroked lovingly, they are based on cats. However, when they are chasing down prey and reigning fiery death from the sky, they are based on geese. Anyone who has ever been chased down by a flock of angry geese can attest that they are just as threatening as a dragon. The world would shutter in fear if they, too, could breathe fire.
24. One Boat to Rule Them All
In all of Westeros and Essos, there is only one boat. As one of the most expensive television series' ever to grace the small screen, Game of Thrones producers have to cut costs where they can to save for the good stuff. Every large boat seen in the series is really just the same boat done up in a different way. Daenerys' ship from Qothor to Astapor, Stannis Baratheon's flagship Fury and Davos Seaworth's Black Bertha - all the same ship.
In fact, in a touch of irony, when Emilia Clarke was filming in Morocco, it was too expensive to move the boat from its spot in Northern Ireland, so she was flown to Ireland for the day to film a singular scene on the boat, making it her first and only scene on the Ireland set.
25. You May Know This White Walker
This White Walker, now iconic to Game of Thrones imagery, has actually been seen on the show before. Ian Whyte, who originally played Gregor Clegane (who has since been replaced with new actors twice) played this particular White Walker in all three seasons in which it appeared. Now that's a good make-up job.