Stars of the hit HBO series tackle the burning question of which characters will make it through winter alive.
Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
As the astute Cersei once put it, “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.”
So, what’ll it be, actors? In interviews with USA TODAY before the start of Season 7, Game of Thrones stars handicapped whether their characters would survive until the end of the Emmy-winning HBO drama (Sunday, 9 ET/PT), which has four more episodes this season and six in a final eighth season.
The actors offer a mix of answers and, to be clear, they weren’t giving out any spoilers. (Indira Varma predicts her character Ellaria Sand will get the Iron Throne, which seems a long shot since she’s now chained in a King’s Landing dungeon.)
John Bradley, who plays maester-in-training Samwell Tarly, is betting on the continued survival of his unwarrior-like character.
“I always said if you were to put money on it, you would have put money on Sam expiring a long time ago,” he says. “If he’s still around at this stage, you get the impression they must be keeping him around for a reason.”
Jerome Flynn says wit may save his jaunty mercenary, Bronn.
“The thing he’s really got going for him is humor. In the midst of all the darkness and the tragedy, Bronn’s humor is good comic relief,” he says. “So, that’s what I’m pinning my hopes on. Come on, keep cracking the jokes, Bronn.”
Conleth Hill is less optimistic about Varys, who may have gotten a hint of his fate in a conversation with Melisandre (Carice van Houten) in last week’s episode. “I think Varys will go before it’s over.”
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, has a more dire prediction. “Nobody survives until the end,” he says, before pointing at a picture of the icy Night’s King. “That guy will survive until the end.”
And Kit Harington has a theory about what will happen with Jon Snow, but he wouldn’t share it. He offered a wish for his character, rather than a prediction.
“I hope he finds peace in some way,” he says.
Uncertainty about characters’ fates has worked wonderfully for Thrones, says Liam Cunningham, who plays Jon Snow’s adviser, Davos Seaworth. The Season 1 death of lead character Ned Stark, played by the show’s biggest star, Sean Bean, shocked many viewers.
“That’s the brilliant thing about the show, that nobody knows. Once Ned Stark got it in Season 1, it was like all bets were off. No one is safe and you can go at any time,” he says. “It’s one of the things the audience loves … that you’re slightly afraid to put your sympathies anywhere, because this character may be ripped from you when you least expect it.
“It’s a bit like life,” he continues. “Nobody knows how much time any of us have.”
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