Nikolaj Coster-Waldau says Game of Thrones cast were “being cosplayers” in unseen original pilot

The first attempt at bringing Game of Thrones to television did not go well.

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has recalled the filming of the ill-fated original pilot, in an interview for a new behind-the-scenes book about the hit series.

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While the fantasy drama went on to become a global sensation, production on the original pilot was troubled and for a moment looked like it might end in disaster.

That’s one of the topics explored in Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, a new book by James Hibberd recounting the story of how George RR Martin’s world was adapted for the screen.

The new title contains a number of cast interviews in which major players reminisce on the early days of Thrones, including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), who calls the original pilot “ridiculous”.

He said: “Nobody knew what they were doing or what the hell this was. During King Robert’s arrival I remember finding the whole thing ridiculous. The absurdity of doing this parallel universe with these very noble men.

“It’s a very fine balance between being serious and believing it and just being cosplayers. There was certainly not a sense that this was going to be some game-changer for anyone. But we had a lot of fun.”

Those comments were echoed by King Robert himself, Mark Addy, who explained how the original pilot failed to convey the hierarchical order of this fantasy world.

“In the Winterfell courtyard scene, nobody kneeled when the king arrived in the first pilot,” Addy said. “You can’t play being the king. You can’t display ‘look at how powerful I am’. People have to give you that by showing subservience. It has to be afforded to you by others.

“In the reshoot, everybody kneeled. It made a huge difference in terms of establishing who’s in charge.”

Entertainment Weekly has published an extract from Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, which contains more reflections on the original pilot from the likes of George RR Martin, Jason Momoa, and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss.

The upcoming book tells the inside story of Game of Thrones from the initial meetings with studio executives, to the arrival of its final season last year.

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Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon is released on Tuesday 6th October 2020, pre-order now on Amazon. Game of Thrones is available to stream on NOW TV. Check out our list of the best NOW TV movies and best series on NOW TV, or visit our TV Guide for more to watch.