It’s not that common that a show gets the chance to shoot a pilot twice. When it happens, you get Game of Thrones. In a recent excerpt from his upcoming Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon book (via EW), author James Hibberd gathered some of the opinions from the actors involved in the first pilot David Benioff and Daniel Weiss shot for HBO. Long story short: it sucked. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau revealed that “nobody knew what they were doing,” Lena Headey confessed that she looked like “a Vegas showgirl,” and generally no one seemed to like what they were seeing. Except for George R.R. Martin, who cameoed in that first pilot dressed as a Pentoshi nobleman with beard extensions and an enormous hat.
The famous author recalled some stories from the Dothraki wedding they shot in Morocco. In the first pilot, not even the chemistry between Drogo and Daenerys (initially portrayed by Tamzin Merchant) seemed to work. Even the horses worked against that first draft.
“As a wedding gift, Khal Drogo gives Daenerys a silver horse and she rides away,” Martin said. “For a moment you think she’s fleeing. Then she turns the horse around and leaps the horse over a big campfire. Drogo is very impressed, and it starts the relationship on a good note. We tried to film this scene. We got a top stunt rider and a top horse, a silver filly, but the filly would not jump that campfire. She got close and then was like,’There’s fire there!’ and would turn the other way. We tried to film it a half dozen ways. So [director Tom McCarthy] goes, ‘Put out the fire and we’ll do the fire with CGI.’ They put out the fire and the horse would still not jump the dead fire. It’s a smart horse. It knows it’s not burning now, but it was burning a little while ago!”
But eventually, even Martin had to concede that his familiarity with the source material made it hard for him to “objectively judge.” Even so, HBO allowed D&D to reshot that pilot, and the fans got the most successful fantasy saga of the new millennium.
If you are interested in other behind-the-scenes stories from Game of Thrones, the Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon book hits the stores on Oct. 6.
Would you like to see that first draft of the Game of Thrones pilot? Let us know in the comments section below.
Recommended Reading: Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones