Comic-Con 2012: Game of Thrones Announces Lots of New Cast Members and a Season 3 Premiere Date

As you may have already heard in our Comic-Con Day 2 wrap-up, Tim, Price, and I had a super busy day yesterday! We attended a million panels and press rooms, basically, and while Tim was busy talking to the cast of The Walking Dead and Price was swooning over the kids from Teen Wolf (keep an eye out for his write-up!), I was lucky enough to grab a seat in Hall H in time to watch the Game of Thrones panel. The series didn't host any press roundtables, unfortunately—the closest I was able to get to the beautiful Richard Madden was about 40 rows back from the panel stage. But at least HBO announced plenty of exciting stuff during the hour-long session—including a bunch of new cast members and a Season 3 premiere date.

Let's get the two biggest pieces of news out of the way first: Game of Thrones Season 3 will premiere on March 31, 2013. The date was announced at the very end of the panel, with moderator (and A Song of Ice and Fire author) George R.R. Martin teasing "one last little thing to show you before you go." It was a video, about five seconds long and comprised of just two title cards: one that said "Game of Thrones Season 3" and one that said "March 31, 2013." But hey, last year the Season 2 premiere date was only announced about four months ahead of time... so now we have an extra few months of knowing precisely how long we have to wait to return to the Seven Kingdoms.

The other order of business was to reveal a bunch of new cast members. This actually took place right at the start of the panel, via the following video:

And here's a quick, in-print rundown of all the new kids, courtesy of the press release HBO sent out right after the panel. Though I've seen every episode of the series so far, books-wise I'm only about three-quarters of the way through the first one... so I don't have much of an opinion yet on these casting choices. I'm excited to meet some of the new characters, though, and I've got a good feeling about Ms. Queen of Thorns in particular.

Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell

Also known as “The Queen of Thorns,” Lady Olenna is the grandmother of Margaery and Loras Tyrell and is, in many ways, the true leader of their powerful family.

Mackenzie Crook as Orell

A wildling raider, Orell is a “warg” or “skinchanger,” with the ability to enter the mind of an animal and control its actions.

Clive Russell as Bryndon “The Blackfish” Tully

Known far and wide as “The Blackfish,” Brynden is a famous knight and the uncle of Catelyn Stark. He quarreled bitterly with his brother, Lord Hoster Tully, and the two were estranged for many years.

Nathalie Emannuel as Missandei

Originally from the peaceful island of Naath, Missandei was sold into slavery as a child, along with her brother. She received education in various languages and became a translator to the slave trader Kraznys in Astapor.

Kerry Ingram as Shireen Baratheon

The only child of Stannis Baratheon. An avid reader, she escapes her lonely life through myths and stories—her books are her most treasured possessions.

Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr

A key member of the outlaw band known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, he is a Red Priest, in service of the Lord of Light, and originally hails from the Free City of Myr, in Essos.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Jojen Reed

A mysterious and enigmatic young man who becomes an important ally to Bran Stark.

Ellie Kendirck as Meera Reed

The eldest daughter of Howland Reed and a staunch Stark loyalist, Meera and her younger brother Jojen seek out Bran Stark to protect him on his hard journey north.

Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion

Once the lord of Blackhaven and a celebrated warrior, Lord Beric has now become the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, a band of vigilante outlaws.

Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane

A famed wildling warrior and chief lieutenant of the “King Beyond the Wall,” Mance Rayder, Tormund is fearsome and strong, with a large build and a beard to match.

Philip McGinley as Anguy

An extremely skilled archer and key member of the outlaw band known as the Brotherhood Without Banners.

Tara Fitzgerald as Selyse Baratheon

The wife of Stannis Baratheon, Selyse spends much of her life in seclusion, shut away in a gloomy tower.

Tobias Menzies as Edmure Tully

The younger brother of Catelyn Stark, Edmure has recently become Lord of Riverrun in the wake of his father’s death.

Anton Lesser as Qyburn

A former maester of the Citadel, who was stripped of his chain many years ago.

Phew! Sounds like the Brotherhood we so often heard mentioned in Season 2 will be making a pretty big appearance this season.

Aside from the two big announcements that bookended the panel, the rest of the time was split between Martin-moderated cast questions and fan questions. Here are the highlights:

– Martin kicked things off by apologizing for the absence of showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (filming has just started on Season 3, which is why not everyone could attend the panel) as well as extending a thank you to his co-creator, "that 13-year-old who's in charge of the boobies." I'm not sure whether the audience really understood that Martin was referring to an SNL spoof on Game of Thrones from earlier this year.

– After the "new cast members" video ended, Martin joked that the show will have to kill off more characters in order to make room for the new ones.

– Martin may not be the most skilled panel moderator I've ever seen, but he was pretty awesome in an "adorable geek" kind of way. He giggled more than I expected, and seemed to really enjoy talking to the cast.

– Hodor was in the house! As you can see in the photo below, he enjoyed a fleeting "get up and wave to everybody moment," though I wish Kristian Nairn had been part of the actual panel; it would have been nice to hear him say something other than "Hodor." I think it was Martin who made a joke about Nairn still working on "learning his line."

– After some prodding by Martin ("Tell us about how you died last season!") Alfie Allen explained that showrunners Benioff and Weiss played a joke on him while they were shooting Season 2 by giving him a fake script that involved Theon being killed by Bran. Allen said he told them he was fine with the decision, it was their show, etc. etc. And then they let him keep believing Theon was doomed for THREE WEEKS before they told him the truth.

– One fan asked the cast members on the panel to reveal their sigils of choice; here are their answers, in order, and I bet you can guess which one earned the biggest response from the audience:

Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy): An Arsenal badge
Richard Madden (Robb Stark): A wolf
Rose Leslie (Ygritte): An eagle
Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark): A horse
Emilia Clarke (Dany Targaryen): "I think I'm just gonna stick with my dragons."

– Martin tasked Richard Madden with explaining how the Season 2 scenes that involved Robb's direwolf Greywind were filmed, and asked whether they involved heavy CGI or whether was acting alongside a real wolf or the stand-in large dogs we saw in Season 1's more pulled-back direwolf shots. "Greywind is a fantastic, massive silver ball on the end of a wooden stick" Madden said, earning lots of laughs, and went on to mention that sometimes huge stuffed animals are also used, as blocking stand-ins.

Okay, I'm off to see more stuff and write more stories. Let's hear your first impressions of the new characters and cast members in the comments!

Psst! Check out our complete Comic-Con coverage for the latest news, photos, and more.

Like on Facebook