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EW – OCTOBER 2017: THE TABLE READ
When Kit Harington entered the conference room, he had no idea what to expect.
The final season’s scripts had been emailed just a couple of days earlier, sending the Game of Thrones cast into a reading frenzy. Like millions of fans around the world, the actors had been waiting nearly a decade to learn their characters’ fates. The entire six-episode season arrived at once, protected by layers of password security.
Sophie Turner flew through her copies in record time, quickly messaging the producers her reaction. “It was completely overwhelming,” says the actress, who plays Sansa Stark. “Afterwards I felt numb, and I had to take a walk for hours.” Others, like Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), first had to hurry home to get some privacy. “I turned to my best mate and was like, ‘Oh my God! I gotta go! I gotta go!’” she recalls. “And I completely flipped out.” She then settled in for a reading session with a cup of tea. “Genuinely the effect it had on me was profound,” Clarke adds. “That sounds insanely pretentious, but I’m an actor, so I’m allowed one pretentious adjective per season.” Peter Dinklage, meanwhile, broke his years-long habit of checking immediately to see if Tyrion Lannister survives. “This was the first time ever that I didn’t skip to the end,” he says.
Even showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss were uncharacteristically anxious, wondering how the actors would react to the climactic twists. “We knew exactly when our script coordinator sent them out, we knew what minute they sent them, and then you’re just waiting for the emails,” Benioff said.
The cast then journeyed to Belfast to gather in a production office for the formal read-through. By then, everybody knew the tale that was about to unfold, with two notable exceptions: Davos Seaworth actor Liam Cunningham (“The f—ing scripts wouldn’t open, the double extra security!” he grouses) and Harington, who outright refused to read anything in advance.
“I walked in saying, ‘Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,’” Harington says. “What’s the point of reading it to myself in my own head when I can listen to people do it and find out with my friends?” So, yes: Jon Snow, quite literally, knew nothing.
Benioff and Weiss opened the proceedings by asking the cast to refrain from doing anything during filming or afterward that might reveal even the tiniest spoiler (“Don’t even take a photo of your boots on the ground of the set,” one actor recalls being told). And then, seated around a long table scattered with a few prop skulls, the cast read aloud the final season of Game of Thrones.
At one point, Harington wept.
Later, he cried a second time.