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20 cool facts you never knew about Game of Thrones

11. Hills and spills

Did you know there are actual brothers working on Game of Thrones? Varys’ (Conleth Hill) brother, Ronan Hill, has won 3 Emmy Awards for his sound-mixing work on Game of Thrones, making him the more successful - if lesser known - Hill brother. You’ll be pleased to know that, in real life, both brothers have a fine head of hair.

12. Fake out

During the filming of Game of Thrones S6 Kit Harington (Jon Snow) had to keep hiding under umbrellas every time a drone flew overhead, to avoid his resurrection becoming known. He seems to be the master of misdirection, as recent news suggests he has filmed over 15 hours of fake scenes for season 7 to throw the spoiler-leakers into disarray. Good.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

13. Winning the Game of Thrones

The Winds of Winter (the final episode in season 6) is the most popular Thrones episode ever, with over 8.9 million viewers first watching (in the US). It’s also the longest too, clocking in with a run time of 69 minutes. The second most popular is Mother’s Mercy, the finale of season 5, which got 8.11 million viewers. The least popular, if you’re wondering, is The Kingsroad (S1.02) with 2.2 million viewers, slightly less than the first ever episode.

14. The eyes have it!

Forget all the Red Weddings, the trials by combat, and the stabbing of Jon Snow - the most expensive death in Thrones (to date) was the demise of Meryn Trant, at the hands of Arya. It happens in the final episode of season 5, Mother’s Mercy, and sees the Stark girl stabbing out Trant’s eyes (“She couldn’t really poke out his eyes,” says showrunner David Benioff). Some expensive CG and make-up work went into that one.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

15. Varys the killer

This will come as no secret to anyone who has read the books, but did you know that Varys is actually responsible for the death of both Grand Maester Pycelle AND Kevan Lannister in George RR Martin’s version of events? He murders them with a crossbow at the end of book 5, part 2. This doesn’t necessarily mean Cersei’s revenge - blowing up the Sept of Baelor with wildfire - won’t happen in the books, but it does kill off two major characters in a very different way.

16. Hidden talents

Natalia Tena - the actor who plays Osha (Rickon’s now sadly-dead wildling protector) is actually in a band called Molotov Jukebox. She’s the lead singer and she plays the accordion. That’s an interesting set of talents, and makes for a strange CV. If you want to check out her music, this is a link to her YouTube channel.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

17. Joffery dies, then quits

Where do you go after playing one of the most hated figures on TV? Jack Gleeson - who plays Joffrey Baratheon (ish) - retired from acting after his character’s death at the start of season 4. Gleeson had been acting since he was 8, and decided that he wanted to go into academia instead. And why not? His portrayal of Joffrey was so convincingly hateful, it must be tough to top such a wonderful, well-known role.

18. Yoga Greyjoy

In real life Yara Greyjoy and Jon Snow do yoga together. Speaking to me in an exclusive interview, Gemma Whelan mentioned that she and Kit Harington actually knew each other before they joined Game of Thrones. Apparently this extended to various fitness sessions together, including yoga. Don’t expect to see actual Yara and Jon doing much yoga - or any other kind of relaxation exercises - in season 7.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

19. Hodor?

Hodor’s real name was changed from Walder to Willis from book to TV show, presumably to avoid any confusion with the Frey characters. It’s not the first time character names were changed. Yara Greyjoy is also known as Asha in the books, and the guy who revives The Hound - Ray - is known as The Elder Brother. It’s also worth noting that the character ‘Cold Hands’ is Benjen Stark in the show, but that remains unconfirmed in the books.

20. Four Ned

Fun fact here, to bore your friends with or insert into a very niche pub quiz. Ned Stark has been played by four different actors in Game of Thrones - can you name all of them? Ok, maybe not. Sean Bean plays Ned Stark in season 1, until meeting his end at the hands of Ilyn Payne. In the first Bran flashback in season 6 we see a very young Ned (played by Sebastian Croft) and his brother Brandon at Winterfell. Later in S6 we get a more substantial look at younger Ned (Robert Aramayo) at the Tower of Joy, rescuing his sister. Finally, and this is a cheeky one, season 6 also has Kevin Eldon playing Ned in the theatrical version of Thrones as played out on stage in Braavos.

Game of Thrones season 8 kicks off on April 14, 2019. Check out which other new TV shows are on the way this year, or catch up with a recap of Game of Thrones season 1-7 in the video below.

Andy has been writing about games since 1999, and worked in print mags for over 10 years before switching to the murky world of online.