For decades now, the Game of Thrones franchise has brought fans a layered look at the complexities of medieval politics. According to a new interview, a rather topical political reference almost made its way into the series' HBO adaptation.
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this month, Thrones co-showrunner D.B. Weiss spoke about the behind-the-scenes work of filming Season 8's epic battle episode, "The Long Night". As Weiss revealed, an attempt at improvisation during the episode's lengthy production accidentally almost led to an in-show reference to Vice President Mike Pence.
"[The show's linguist] David [J. Peterson] says that Jacob [Anderson, who plays Grey Worm] is like a native speaker of Valyrian." Weiss explained. "He speaks this language -- it's a real language that only David understands -- David says that Jacob speaks it better than anyone. And Jacob was in the "Long Night" episode, and many of those 55 nights, Jacob was probably out there in the mud, in the muck in front of Winterfell, fighting."
"And at one point, Miguel [Sapochnik], the director... halfway through, Miguel starts yelling at Jacob to improvise something in Valyrian." Weiss continued. "I don't know why he would have to do it in Valyrian, because he was wearing a mask and you couldn't see his face. But he said 'Say something in Valyrian, and yell to your troops in Valyrian!' And Jacob was so tired and so delirious and so out of it that all he could think to yell was 'Mike Pence! Mike Pence! Mike Pence!' So in one of those scenes, when Jacob is yelling and pointing, whatever he said was dubbed over. What he was actually saying was 'Mike Pence'."
There's no telling exactly what scene from "The Long Night" the Mike Pence Valyrian line is in, since the moment was apparently dubbed over with other dialogue. Still, the notion that the show almost included such a specific reference is a little ironic, especially considering the relationship that the Trump administration has had with Thrones. Twice in the past year, Trump has used Thrones-style imagery and slogans on social media, which has courted backlash from the show's cast and crew, and even HBO itself.
“Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes,” an HBO spokesman said in a statement after the second tweet was posted.
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Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.