For every Game of Thrones fan, there’s a storyline that makes their blood um a little faster. Then again, inevitably there are plot lines that perhaps could do with a little pepping up. And so we come to the characters based in Dorne…
Dorne has been a struggle for many fans since season five but, love it or hate it, there’s no denying the decision to kill off Prince Doran Martell at the hands of his dead brother’s paramour and her daughter in the first episode of season six remains a fairly shocking moment.
In fact, it was almost as much of a surprise for the actor playing Doran, Alexander Siddig, as it was for the viewers.
“I’m not really sure what happened there. I was contracted to do at least four episodes this season,” the actor said in an interview with startrek.com, until he was called by the show’s creators, who explained that his time on the show would end before he could fulfill his contract.
“I was like, ‘Okay, life goes on.’ But there was something wrong about that because I had been contracted for four episodes in the following season, so if they were going to kill me off at the end of the last season why would they contract me for those four episodes? Because it costs them money whether I do them or not, so it’s not great business sense to do it just in case.”
In George RR Martin’s source material, Doran Martell remains very much alive and a key player in the story. Siddig speculates that his character’s demise was a deliberate move by the creators, David Benioff and DB Weiss, to deceive their audience now that the show has outpaced the books, especially given the excitement surrounding Siddig’s casting.
“There was an enormous amount of fan excitement when I got named to be on the show, and everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, yes, Doran Martell. He’s going to be great as Doran Martell.’ That might have been the kiss of death. Maybe they didn’t want quite that much attention on that character. Maybe they thought, ‘Well, let’s prove that we’re going to stray from the books. We’re going to do something else, and he will be our first example of that.’ So maybe that could have been the case. Or maybe I just screwed up. Maybe I said the wrong thing to the wrong person.”
The decision to kill off Doran was generally well-received by fans as it provided a swift development to a subplot that had meandered and struggled to establish its significance in the wider plot of the show.
Furthermore, the actor believes that the leaking of four episodes of the fifth season before it had premiered last year was a deliberate tactic employed by HBO to spread excitement.
“So, for example, last season, I believe that the first few episodes were stolen and downloaded online, and everybody got to see them before the show actually aired, and everybody was furious at HBO and whatnot. I don’t know if you remember. I am almost positive that those four episodes were leaked by HBO themselves. So there is an enormous amount of spin going on. I can’t tell you that for sure; that’s just my opinion, but it’s games; everybody’s playing these games.”
After the leak, the network no longer issues advance press screeners of the show, which is one of the most pirated in the world.
Despite his character’s supposedly premature denouement, Siddig enjoyed his experience on the show.
“They picked the best crews in the world, and there were two of them. It was so huge. That’s what I remember, everything was so huge. And actors praying they weren’t going to be killed.”