Considering the wide-reaching history referenced within the series, not to mention the pages of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the network has ample choice when it comes to commissioning future projects to tell these tales.
In fact, HBO has given the green light to five pilot episodes for shows they’re hoping will be just as much a ratings success as Thrones has been since it began in 2011. The first of these will be the currently untitled series initially known as The Long Night (which, according to Martin, will not be the title).
Below is everything we know so far about the Game of Thrones prequel series.
When does it start?
A good question, and one that currently has no answer. Now the cast and crew's in place – and with production scheduled to begin in the summer – expect a date announcement later this year. If we were to hazard a guess, it’ll be released in the spring of 2020 in the slot usually reserved for the main show.
Who will star?
The first actor to be announced was a surprising one: Naomi Watts, the Hollywood star of such films including The Ring, Birdman and The Impossible. She’ll be playing “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret” and her appointment brings a particular gravitas to something many may have written off as a cash in.
Fans have speculated she could be playing Nissa Nissa, the wife of ancient hero Azor Ahai. He's the Lord of Light who, according to legend, created a magical sword called "Lightbringer" which was used to defeat the White Walkers.
Watts will be starring opposite Poldark star Josh Whitehouse, who is no doubt hoping to achieve Kit Harington-levels of recognition for his role in the series. A question mark surrounds his role, but we’re sure it’ll be a slack-jawed hero of some description (more on that below).
HBO has also announced who will be starring in the supporting roles. There’s Naomi Ackie, who’ll become better known following her role in Star Wars: Episode IX, Humans star Ivanno Jeremiah and Irish star Denise Gough. Oscar nominee and Harry Potter alumni Miranda Richardson also has a role.
First Game of Thrones season 8 footage unveiled in HBO trailer
Rounding out the cast is Jamie Campbell Bower, Harlots star Sheila Atim (who we interviewed here), Georgie Henley, Alex Sharp and Toby Regbo, who are all hoping to become household names within the next few years.
What’s it about?
Naturally, HBO is keeping this quite close to its chest. However, a statement released in June 2018 revealed it will focus on “the world’s descent from the Golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour”. This likely means we’ll see historical figures that have been fleetingly mentioned in the series (see: Stark ancestor Bran the Builder, a character whom many believe Whitehouse could be playing).
We do know it’ll take places thousands of years before events depicted in Game of Thrones and will explore “the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history”, while also finding time to fill us in on the true origins of the White Walkers.
Essentially, the series will be able to provide the backstory for many things the main show won’t have time to explain in its final six episodes. Season eight is scheduled to begin this April.
Martin has confirmed that no Thrones characters will appear in the prequel. It’s quite an obvious point, considering the show predates the show by a staggering amount of time, but it's also good to have that particular question cleared up.
Who’s behind it?
Screenwriter Jane Goldman, who co-wrote Kick-Ass, is behind the prequel. She’s working closely with A Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin. In terms of director, it’ll be SJ Clarkson overseeing production having had her time freed up by the shelving of Star Trek 4, which she was poised to direct.
You can find a compilation of everything we know about Game of Thrones season 8 here.
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