Note: contains spoilers for Game of Thrones up to the penultimate episode, 'The Bells'
There has been A LOT to take in during the final season of Game of Thrones, but if you thought you had a fair few thoughts racing around your mind, wait until you get a load of this.
We've done some digging around to see what some of the show's stars have to say about the the saga's last remaining moments, and while there is lots of applause, not everyone is entirely impressed.
Lena Headey – Cersei Lannister
Large numbers of Game of Thrones fans are so incensed with the way in which the fantasy epic has played out that they've started a petition in the hope that HBO will remake the final season – and a significant chunk of those complaints have been levelled at Cersei's exit.
The golden-haired Lannister was crushed to death beneath the Red Keep with Jaime at her side following Daenerys's razing of Westeros.
But Lena Headey wasn't particularly fazed by her fate. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, she said she originally had "mixed" feelings, but grew to accept what lay in store for her.
"I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody, [but] the more we talked about it the more it seemed like the perfect end for her. They came into the world together and now they leave together.
"I think the important thing is that Jaime had a chance at freedom [with Brienne] and finally liberated himself from Cersei, which I think the audience will be thrilled about. [But] I think the biggest surprise is he came back for her.
"Cersei realises just how she loves him and just how much he loves her. It's the most authentic connection she's ever had. Ultimately they belong together.
"It's maybe the first time that Cersei has been at peace."
Headey also posted the following video on Instagram, and while we're not reading anything into it at all, it's very possible that she has one or two thoughts about the ongoing reaction to Cersei's departure.
A dig, perhaps? But like we said, we're not reading anything into it. Absolutely zilch.
Kit Harington – Jon Snow
Kit Harington has spoken very little about the show during its dying embers as he strives to keep the final twists and revelations under wraps, but he has made it clear that he is done with dragonglass and dragons for the foreseeable.
"I don't want to try and repeat Jon Snow," he told Harper's Bazaar. "I don't want to step back into the same thing... it's a very heavy, heavy show, heavy role. So something which is a bit lighter, a bit funnier maybe."
Harington also spoke about how he felt following his very last Jon Sow read-through: "Well, it's strange, isn't it? It always is with a movie and TV set. I guess you expect this big fanfare of like, because it's ended for you, it's ended for everyone. But really on the final day and when it's finished, they've got to move on and move to something else.
"That's why it felt like being skinned. It was like, "Right. We got to get this off because we're going to move on and shoot Maisie [Williams] doing something."
"So it's kind of brutal. It's a brutal experience, especially after nine years. You go, "Oh, well, that's done." You just finish, and that's it."
Peter Dinklage - Tyrion Lannister
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Peter Dinklage spoke about how difficult it was to wave farewell to the show: "It's pretty heartbreaking because I had a great role in a great show. Many of us moved to Northern Ireland to shoot Game Of Thrones. My children even went to school there.
"People met, married and broke up on that show. It's really hard to say goodbye. We filmed it for nine years, so you dig your feet deep in the local community.
"In that sense, it wasn’t just a show, it was a life for a lot of people."
Understandably, Dinklage hasn't been doing much press as his character is still very much alive, but in a previous interview with Entertainment Tonight producer Lauren Zima, he said the following regarding the show's ending: "There are no better writers in television than DB Weiss and David Benioff. They ended it brilliantly, better than I could have imagined, and you people are in for it."
High praise, except for the fact that Dinklage then appeared to roll his eyes.
Clearly, he isn't a fan of the show's final season either.
Emilia Clarke – Daenerys Targaryen
There have been numerous moments throughout Thrones that have incited rage among fans, but none more so than Daenerys's actions in the show's penultimate episode, 'The Bells'.
The Mother of Dragons used Drogon as a weapon of mass destruction to decimate King's Landing and every man, woman and child within its walls.
In an interview with Deadline, Emilia Clarke spoke about how much she has enjoyed her time on the series, and as well as her character's transformation leading up to that point.
"I was just happy to be employed when I got this job. I didn't even know what IMDB was, I had no idea what anything to do with this world was really like," she said.
"It's been such an incredible journey to be with her, as she starts off so timid, naive, scared and vulnerable – all the things I was.
"And then each season she transforms into a different person, each season she grows and summons strength that is beyond my own, but has brought about a resilience within myself. Getting to play her, standing on a mountain and speaking to 700 supporting artists in a different language... you've got to grow some balls."
But in an interview from an HBO Emmys party last year, which has recently been doing the rounds, her remarks would suggest that at the time, she wasn't particularly happy about where the showrunners had taken her character.
Maisie Williams – Arya Stark
Maisie Williams wasn't expecting Arya to be the one to stick the Night King with the pointy end, so when she found out that's exactly what would happen, she experienced a raft of emotions.
"It was so unbelievably exciting, but I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn’t deserve it, she told Entertainment Weekly.
"The hardest thing in any series is when you build up a villain that's so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, 'Well, [the villain] couldn't have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.'
"You gotta make it cool. And then I told my boyfriend and he was like, 'Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn’t it?'"
She also discussed that Melisandre prophecy that fans of the show latched on to long ago: "I realised the whole scene with [the Red Woman] brings it back to everything I've been working for over these past six seasons - four if you think about it since [Arya] got to the House of Black and White.
"It all comes down to this one very moment. It’s also unexpected and that's what this show does. So then I was like, 'F**k you Jon, I get it."
Sophie Turner - Sansa Stark
Like Tyrion, Sophie Turner's Sansa Stark is still going strong, which means she has said very little about how Thrones wraps up.
But during a recent interview with Vogue, she did discuss her thoughts about Sansa's development over the course of the eight seasons.
"A lot of people have been surprised by Sansa's character development, but not me," she said. "She's always been good at adapting, and pretending, and manipulating everyone around her by not saying anything. And that was her real saving grace – because if she had spoken out against Prince Joffrey or Circe or Littlefinger even, she would have had her head cut off.
"So, her power was in her silence. It was only when she got her power back at Winterfell that she became a leader and got her revenge. She's smart and manipulative and learned from the best."
Conleth Hill – Varys
The Irish actor has been extremely vocal following his exit from the show, which saw his character Lord Varys burnt to a crisp by Daenerys's last remaining dragon, Drogon, after he was found to have committed treason against the queen.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "I was so depressed to find out Varys was being killed off. Storywise, it was a brilliant decision and it was a great way to go. But I was inconsolable at the time we filmed it.
"I didn't think Varys would be powerful or on the throne or anything like that. But personally, it still hurt."
He echoed that sentiment during an interview with Entertainment Weekly (EW): "I took it very personally [when I was written off]. I took it as a person, not as an actor or an artist. You can't help feeling that you failed in some way, that you haven't lived up to some expectation that you didn’t know about.
"The only thing that consoles you is people who worked a lot harder than you are in the same boat. So that helps. I don't think anybody who hasn't been through it can identify with it… But you take it personally, you can't help it."
He added, "At the time, nothing could console me. I kept thinking: 'What did I do wrong?' There wasn't any pre-warning."
But despite telling EW that his time on Thrones was "overwhelmingly positive and brilliant", he felt that one final thing was missing.
"I was very bummed to not have a final scene with him [Littlefinger]," he said. "It would have been great to have had one more meeting...I think they tried to make that work and couldn't.
"That's been my feeling the last couple seasons, that my character became more peripheral, that they concentrated on others more. That's fine. It's the nature of a multi-character show. It was kind of frustrating… the last couple seasons weren’t my favourite."
He added: "I'm not dissatisfied on the whole… It sounds like I am. But it’s been brilliant."
Gwendoline Christie – Brienne of Tarth
The reaction to Brienne and Jaime taking their kit off and getting hot and heavy was mixed. Some felt it completely betrayed her character, while others were all for it.
But Gwendoline Christie, the actor who plays the character, was all for it.
"I felt it was important to see a moment of choice from Brienne where she chooses to do this, she told Entertainment Weekly. "Brienne is a virgin. As far as we know, Brienne hasn’t had a sexual or romantic encounter before. In the books, the character sleeps in her armour to protect herself.
"It"s important that she chooses to explore life in that way and have that experience. I was pleased that if something happens between her and another character that she wants it. I like that she instigated it.
"As an unconventional woman that we’ve seen grow, I enjoy that she decided to grow in a different way."
Responding to the fan reaction, she added: "I went through a whole thought process looking at it from many different angles and thought the writing is very good here. This is what makes a character three dimensional, truly.
"It gives her the agency to explore all the different elements of her life. She’s not just a woman who can fight incredibly well and doesn't have any need for anything else. She is a woman, she's a human, she fights brilliantly, she also has some desire of companionship and sensual love."
She added: "I think if you're facing and survived death you want to experience everything life has to offer and to not explore that it wouldn't be as human. She"s a woman and that means she has a sex drive so why shouldn't she explore it? Personally… I always wanted to see her get together with Dany."
But the fact that Jaime then decided to abandon Brienne to return to Cersei didn't only upset fans of the show, but Christie too.
"I was so upset for her," she said. "I know it's just a character and I’m an actor who's lucky to do her job. It's so heartbreaking. But it's life isn't it? Life is heartbreaking.
"I never assumed they would be together. I didn’t think that would happen. And now I can feel a million hearts breaking... I was very upset and I had to go for a walk.
"And I know it's silly. It's just a character, not a living human being, but I feel for her so deeply. I love that she doesn’t crumble from it. She goes back to work. Because she always loves work - that feels refreshing, a woman can be happy without a companion.
"Women don’t have to be defined by their partner and that's good. But my God. That's Game of Thrones, isn't it? Just when you think things are going to go well it punches you harder than ever in the guts."
Nathalie Emmanuel – Missandei
There was outrage when Dany's right-hand woman, Missandei, was bumped off Thrones at the hands of Cersei, a white woman.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, actor Nathalie Emmanuel addressed the public outcry, and had known all along what lay in wait for her: "To be honest with you, when I read the script for it, I was like, not surprised that she died because I had been expecting it for a really long time.
"So many people die in that show and I guess I didn't think I was any safer than anybody else in that respect. But I am fully aware and engaged in the conversation of representation because I am the only woman of colour in this show that has been on there regularly for many seasons."
She continued, elaborating on her thoughts about the show's rocky relationship with diversity, or lack thereof: "It's safe to say that Game of Thrones has been under criticism for their lack of representation and the truth of it is that Missandei and Grey Worm have represented so many people because there's only two of them.
"So this is a conversation going forward about when you're casting shows like this, that you are inclusive in your casting. I knew what it meant that she was there, I know what it means that I am existing in the spaces that I am because when I was growing up, I didn't see people like me.
"But it wasn't until she was gone that I really felt what it really, truly meant, until I saw the outcry and outpouring of love and outrage and upset about it, I really understood what it meant."
She added: "It was savage. It was brutal and hardened and that is the world that we’re in. Whether we’re talking about Game of Thrones or this one, it is brutal and that is what they did.:
Emmanuel did go on to discuss the one thing she wished her character had been able to experience.
"I really had wished that I had more time or scenes this season maybe with Daenerys or even with Cersei, scenes where we get to see her being brilliant before she dies," she added.
"I think that might have eased the pain a bit more for people, and reinforcing a friendship that she and Dany had because we haven’t really seen anything for a few seasons but I think she’s so fiercely loyal Dany and I think she was until the bitter end, and it"s almost fitting for Missandei really, in a way."
Pilou Asbæk – Euron Greyjoy
Following the most recent episode of the show, Pilou Asbæk was asked by Vulture how he was feeling after watching his final scenes, in which we saw him engage in a bloody tussle with Jaime. We didn't actually see Euron die, but it's assumed that he has following the injuries that he sustained.
But the actor that played him said that he hasn't actually watched any Thrones "since season six".
"It went from a passion relationship to a professional relationship," he said. "It's my job; it's not my girlfriend. But I remember the table read through [for the last season], and reading it was very emotional because a lot of people got chopped."
The actor was also asked about his actions in his last episode, and why he believed Euron's aim had "got so much worse" when it came to tackling Drogon.
"Because they needed it for the storyline?" he mused. "I don't know. I think we had to take out one dragon so we level the fight just a little bit, and they caught her off guard. It was a sneak attack. That's the reason why they could kill one of the dragons.
"But now she"s prepared and now she's pissed, and if there's one thing you don’t want, it's the dragon mum pissed. She's going to go f**king rogue man."
Asbæk also addressed the vast criticism that has been directed at the show, particularly in its final chapter: "Even though some people have been very critical with some of the things this season, it's also because people are emotional about it.
"It brings a lot of things up in people... I just appreciate the passion and the commitment that people give to it. You’ve gotta respect it. It's your baby as much as it's my baby. You're totally right to have your opinion. You just can't force me to agree with you if I don't.
He also spoke about those criticisms in an interview with Insider: "I'm rooting for [showrunners] Dan and David, for them to be happy with what they have created.
"Because right now, people are very angry. Some people are very angry and some people are very happy. I think, guys, just... please. Everyone has done the best work they could, under the circumstances they could, and I think it will stand the test of time.
"Honestly, I swear to God I think that. So I hope Dan and David are going to end up on the throne."
Isaac Hempstead Wright – Bran Stark
We haven't heard too much from Bran regarding how the show ends because, like a number of his cast members, he still has a part to play.
But he did address the moment that Bran and Jaime first laid eyes on one another in the season-eight premiere to the Hollywood Reporter.
"I was thrilled to see that reunion because it's such a poignant moment, and such a cool thing for Jaime to come back here and realise that Bran is not Bran anymore – he’s f**king terrifying."
He then went on to say that while the first episode was full of joviality, the "rest of the season might not follow quite as happily", and boy was he right.
Wright also spoke to Winter Is Coming about that long, final look between Bran and the NightKing.
"The reasoning behind that wasn't actually in the script, but [director Miguel Sapochnik] and I came up with this idea that the look Bran gives the Night King is one of pity," he said. "Bran saw the creation of the Night King, or the first White Walker, or whatever. He realises that he was once just a normal guy who was forcibly strapped to a tree, and had a piece of dragonglass plunged in his heart.
"He didn't ask to become this raving, crazy ice killer. So it's a bit like a Frankenstein's monster scenario... so we tried to get a moment where Bran is feeling sorry for him.
"Bran is looking at this ancient being who didn’t want to become this murderer, but is. And the reason the Night King takes so long is that he's been programmed to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven from the moment he was created, so he's taking a moment to savour it."
Rory McCann – The Hound
We finally said goodbye to Sandor "The Hound" Clegane and his brother Gregor, otherwise known as "The Mountain", in the show's penultimate episode when the duo engaged in a bloody duel to the death.
It was something that fans had been waiting for, and Rory McCann was also extremely happy that it finally went down.
"We had this sparring session in season one all those years ago, and this was the end of the journey, a completion," he told Winter Is Coming. "I'm so grateful they decided to write that in. It was a lot of fun."
And speaking of Cleganebowl: "I'd written myself off once the fight started – there's a chance by the end of it that Sandor is probably blinded and he's pretty broken up. But he had enough energy to complete his mission and stuff his brother's face in the fire, even if it meant ending his own life.
"I think the Hound would have been quite happy with that. I think he knew when he rode out with Arya and said, "I don't plan on coming back."
Joe Dempsie – Gendry
Of all the things Gendry has experienced on Thrones, being ordered to take his "own bloody pants off" by Arya will forever be his crowning moment.
The skilled assassin thought that there was a possibly she might die at the hands of the White Walkers (although we never really thought that she would), and she didn't want to leave the Earth a virgin, so Arya made a move and the pair enjoyed a night of passion together.
But speaking to Esquire, Joe Dempsie, who initially felt "strange" about the decision, grew to appreciate its importance.
"It was strange for me having known [Maisie] since she was 11 or 12 years old and being asked to play out a scene like that," he said. "That discomfort I had initially seemed to have been shared by quite a lot of people who have watched that episode, too.
"But I found the subsequent conversation actually really quite interesting. What that scene ended up doing was forcing people to confront their own hypocrisy in a way."
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