Emilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen, who embraced her role as the "Mother of Dragons" at the end of last season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Lena Headey returns as Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, attempting to maintain control of the Seven Kingdoms with her psychotic son, Joffrey, and her controlling father. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister, last seen being escorted to King's Landing by Brienne of Tarth to be exchanged for Arya and Sansa Stark. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) managed to repel Stannis Baratheon's invading forces from King's Landing at the end of last season, but he was rewarded with the loss of his title (King's Hand) and a scar on his face. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Charles Dance plays Tywin Lannister, patriarch of the Lannister family, who returned to King's Landing to relieve his son, Tyrion, from his role as the King's Hand. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Michelle Fairley plays Catelyn Stark, who is attempting to keep her children safe. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Robb Stark (Richard Madden) ended last season by breaking his engagement to Lord Walder Frey's daughter and marrying Lady Talisa (Oona Chaplin) instead. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Sophie Turner plays Sansa Stark, who was promised to the psychotic King Joffrey, but managed to avoid marriage. However, so long as she remains in King's Landing, she's in danger. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Kit Harrington plays Jon Snow, the Night's Watch soldier who has been captured by the Wildlings north of the Wall. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Maisie Williams plays Arya Stark, who learned of a secret organization known as the Faceless Men at the end of last season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Isaac Hempstead-Wright plays Bran Stark, who has begun a trek north to the Wall. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Jojen Reed, brother of Meera Reed. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Ellie Kendrick plays Meera Reed, who will assist Bran Stark on his journey. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Rose Leslie plays the Wildling warrior Ygritte, who has her eye on Jon Snow. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Stephen Dillane plays Stannis Baratheon, who still lusts after the Iron Throne, even though his assault on King's Landing failed. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Carice van Houten plays the red priestess Melisandre, who continues to advise Stannis Baratheon, even though his attack on King's Landing failed. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Natalie Dormer plays Lady Margaery Tyrell, the new lady love of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Ciaran Hinds joins the cast as Mance Rayder, the "King Beyond the Wall" and leader of the Wildlings. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Diana Rigg joins the cast as Lady Olenna Redwyne, also known as the Queen of Thorns. She's the grandmother of Margaery and Loras Tyrell and a scheming force to be reckoned with. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Richard Dormer plays Beric Dondarrion, leader of the mysterious Brotherhood Without Banners, which is introduced in the third season. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Paul Kaye joins the cast as Thoros of Myr, a red priest who worships the same deity as Melisandre, who also serves as an adviser to Beric Dondarrion. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Gwendoline Christie plays Brienne of Tarth, the female knight tasked with escorting Jaime Lannister to King's Landing. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Clive Russell joins the cast as Brynden Tully, also known as the Blackfish, Catelyn Stark's uncle. (Helen Sloan / HBO)Link
Secrets are perhaps the most prized currency in all of Westeros, so it makes a certain amount of sense that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show runners of HBO’s lavish series “Game of Thrones,” are reluctant to divulge too many details concerning what audiences might expect from the show’s third season.
Ominous hints are OK, though.
“I think we’re heading into the negative population growth phase of the show,” Weiss said.
That tidbit hardly will come as a surprise to readers familiar with George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, the elaborate fantasy series that inspired the intricate, eye-popping show and chronicles the masterful manipulations and wars that break out over who will control the Iron Throne.
The third book, “A Storm of Swords,” forms the spine for the upcoming run of episodes — the next two seasons, in fact. The sprawling scope of the massive tome, which runs upward of 900 pages in hardcover, was too great to be contained to 10 episodes.
Benioff and Weiss recently spoke about how they approached dividing up the various story lines of Houses Stark, Lannister and Targaryen and how they serve the show’s spectrum of viewers — the Martin faithful and recent fantasy converts.
HC: Is it true that the third season of the series will loosely follow the first half of “A Storm of Swords”?
DB: I don’t know if it’s half. We’re splitting the third book into two seasons, that’s definitely true, but it doesn’t necessarily map along so neatly where if you split the book in half that’s where the season ends. We just tried to figure out where would be the best place to start each story line and conclude each story line. But that’s the idea — two seasons, one book.
HC: All of Martin’s books are dense with characters, locations, machinations, but “A Storm of Swords” is an especially complex narrative.
DB: We’ve been excited from the beginning about Season 3. I remember calling Dan after getting to a certain scene in the third book — and this was before we even pitched it to HBO — and just saying if we ever got the greenlight to make this series and if we ever got to a third season, we would have an audience forever. There are so many traumatic and memorable events that occur in this book. We’ve always been hoping and praying we’d get this far. Then we finally got there, and it became an intimidating thing to get it all on screen.
HC: Generally speaking, what can audiences expect from this season?
DBW: There are a lot of very sharp reversals of fortune, surprising reversals of fortune, low-brought-high and high-laid-low moments, where people end the season in very different circumstances than they began the season. There’s a good amount of romance in this season, far more romance than in previous seasons.
HC: When you have so many characters in play, how do you ensure that each has her own moment in the spotlight?
DBW: It is sort of an embarrassment-of-riches situation where you’ve got people who may not even have huge roles in the books [but should have a larger role on the series]. Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery, comes to mind. Margaery has a very ancillary role in the books. Then we cast Natalie, and we realized immediately that we couldn’t keep it that way. You can’t have that big an acting asset and leave it in the background, so you clear out space in the story to make room for her as a fully fledged character.
HC: Similarly, how do you balance the interests of viewers who are incredibly devoted to Martin’s books without losing the more general audience who might enjoy “Game of Thrones” but has maybe never even read a fantasy novel?
DBW: If you’re going to try to please everybody all the time, you’re going to end up with something that’s kind of lukewarm and milquetoast and done by committee. We feel like we are huge fans of the books. We’ve devoted, in some ways, more of our lives to these books than anybody in the world besides George himself, and we want it to be a show that we would love. We want it to be a show that George loves. We want it to be a show that can reach a broad spectrum of people.
— Gina McIntyre
Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex
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