Watching James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch) and Natalia Tena (Osha, the Wilding) radiate warmth, humility, and humor on stage, it’s hard to believe Game of Thrones’ Westeros faces a harsh winter. During the “GoT: Winter is Coming” panel in the Atrium Ballroom (M), Sun 11:30AM, they described how, despite GoT’s often bloody, gut wrenching scenes, off screen the actors enjoy one another and prefer to keep levity on the GoT set.
The panelists were asked to reflect on some of their co-actors. In regards to Richard Madden, who plays Rob Stark, Tena said, “He’s lovely and his accent’s really sexy.” Cosmo shared his appreciation for the actor who plays Tyrion Lannister. “I love watching Peter Dinklage,” he said. “He’s a joy to watch.”
Tena described Brienne of Tarth, played by Gwendoline Christie, as a “figurehead for feminist characters.”
They assured the audience, who were hungry to understand how such an immense production and complicated story coalesce, that Kit Harington, who plays the unforgettable Jon Snow, really does have perfect, sexy hair. Even George R.R. Martin is a delightful guy despite his propensity for killing-off beloved characters.
As they talked through their panel, it became clear that, despite their often humorous answers, both respect not only the world Martin has created, but the complexity of the characters and their journeys. Even the deaths, such as those in the Red Wedding, are clever, necessary devices that bring humanity and reality to the screen and the fantasy. Tena likened Osha to a raccoon and detailed how her commitment to Osha led her to learn to skin rabbits. After going to Belfast for training, she spent a day on set where she skinned nearly 40 in a row and, unable to wash her bloody hands, started to feel akin to Lady Macbeth. “It was a special day,” she said.
Cosmo, whose costume weighed 50-60 pounds, said that while dressing on set “…you can feel the sort of gravitas of the character coming” as you are helped into the leggings, the chest plate, and finally, the cloak. “When I was wearing all the costume,” he said, “and I was about to get on my horse, he looked really, really unhappy.”
“Your costume is your outward appearance of the world,” Tena finished. Audience members doing cosplay were then asked to stand and Cosmo and Tena showered them with praise.
“Being here is humbling,” Cosmo said, because it reminds him of how impactful, and important, GoT is to so many people.
Near the end of the panel, Cosmo took a serious turn and reflected on the integrity of Mormont, who is always trying to find the right path. “You so deeply wish that we had, on both sides of the pond,” he said, “that we had politicians that behaved like that. That were men of integrity.” The audience applauded.
Both Cosmo and Tena agreed that Joffrey needs to die and gave approval to Tyrion eventually winning the coveted throne, but how, when, and with what consequence, winter will finally arrive, the actors could not say. Let’s hope both (with others in tow) make it back to Dragon Con.
And that they give us another perfect panel ending, as Cosmo did this round, saying with Mormont’s trademark gruff, “Tarly, I forbid you to die.”