We already know that The Long Night will be set during the so-called Age of Heroes, a legendary period of history thousands of years before the events of the main Game of Thrones series (about 10,000 years, to be exact) when the White Walkers made their first attack on humanity – which means Watts and Whitehouse (what a firm of Electricians they’d make) are unlikely to be playing characters closely affiliated with anyone we know and love.
However, we have heard of various figures from around this time – legendary hero Bran the Builder, one of the earliest Starks, and Lann the Clever, who swindled another family to found the Great House of Lannister, as well as Iron Islands ruler the Grey King among others.
Whitehouse could be playing any one of the above, or a junior member of a noble family. Given that we have no information about his character at the moment, there’s quite a lot of leeway, and there’s a fair few Age of Heroes figures that he might fit the bill for (also including Garth Greenhand, Simeon Star-Eyes or the Winged Knight).
Working out who Watts might play, however, is a bit trickier, as by the time of the main series pretty much the only woman remembered from The Age of Heroes by Westeros’ patriarchal society is Nissa Nissa.
Naomi Watts and Josh Whitehouse (Getty)
Nissa Nissa was the wife of legendary warrior Azor Ahai, aka The Prince Who Was Promised, a divinely-gifted figure who becomes the subject of many myths by the time of the main Game of Thrones series (with some characters suspecting that either Jon Snow or Daenerys may be his reincarnated spirit).
Famously, Azor Ahai helped lead the force of humans that, combined with the elf-like Children of the Forest, defended Westeros from the first attack of the White Walkers, driving them north and sealing them behind a wall – and before you ask, yes Whitehouse could be playing this guy, though the Hollywood Reporter has suggested he’s not the male lead, which Azor Ahai presumably would be.
Nissa, though, is mainly remembered for being sacrificed to forge the mystical sword Lightbringer, as Azor Ahai plunged it through her breast to temper the steel (which we’re sure made sense at the time). Probably not quite the weighty role Watts would choose, and not exactly the “charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret,” that her character was described as when her casting was revealed (though to be fair, given that she’s only remembered as a legend the truth of Nissa’s life may be more complicated – maybe she was once a socialite).
It’s more likely, given her character description, that Watts is playing the scion of some noble family (like Whitehouse may be) – though even these familiar dynasties were very different during the Age of Heroes. The Starks and the Boltons were around in some form, sure, but the Lannisters didn’t really exist yet, and neither did many of the other noble families we’ve come to know during Game of Thrones.
House Tyrell weren’t really around, or the Baratheons, or even the Greyjoys, and the Targaryens were still sheep-farmers over in Essos at the time this series is set. A few more minor houses we might have encountered in the series were around, though (House Blackwood, anyone?), so it’s possible Watts’ character could be one of those.
But then again, maybe we’re we’re thinking too small. Describing Watts’ character as a “socialite” seems odd given that the spin-off is set during the Age of Heroes, which was essentially the Westerosi version of the Bronze Age and even more primitive than the medieval world of Game of Thrones – so who’s to say she’s a socialite in the traditional sense?
For a long while fans have been speculating that the new series will delve deeper into the world of the wildlings, the Celt-like people living in the far North of Westeros, after casting calls went out asking for Scandinavian actors (while not exclusively, a large number of actors cast in Game of Thrones to play wildlings are of Scandinavian origin).
While we might not think of the primitive wildlings as particularly social people, who knows what their society was like 10,000 years earlier – maybe they even had glamorous frozen soirees, perfect for Watts’ socialite to ponder her dark secrets within.
Until we know the focus of this new series, though, it’s quite hard to make accurate predictions. Will The Long Night focus on legendary heroes we have heard of, or leave them in the background to focus on new characters, the forgotten saviours of Westeros?
Will it be a political drama like Thrones was at the start, or delve straight into the more mystical elements of the series (which could mean actors playing the magical Children of the Forest or the White Walkers in more prominent roles)?
Without this information, it’s hard to say even what sort of characters the series will be focusing on, let alone which specific ones the new actors will be playing – but there’s definitely the potential for these actors to be playing some really intriguing people when the series does finally come to TV.
Game of Thrones returns for a final series in 2019