SAN DIEGO - While some of the original panelists have departed and other panelists have been added, the great thing about HBO's "Game of Thrones" is that no matter which stars are able to attend, they're bound to be *somebody's* favorite.
Click through for a full live-blog of Friday's "Game of Thrones" panel, which is sure to have many teasing hints about the show's upcoming third season. I assume they'll keep spoilers to a minimum, so I'll try to do the same!
2:50 p.m. George R. R. Martin is moderating in a jaunty sailor hat. I'd forgotten that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss aren't going to be here, but they're already in production on Season 3, so they couldn't leave. They do, however, send their best.
2:52 p.m. I think Martin just made a joke about Andy Samberg's "Saturday Night Live" boobies skit. He's weirdly quiet.
2:52 p.m. Highlights from last season. No boobies at all. Lots of stabbing. Some dragons. Lots of Jon Snow knowing nothing. Warlock Dean Pelton! HODOR! Blackwater! You suck, Jofferey! Oh, Theon, I thought it was a good speech. Hodor! Whitewalkers! Good times.
3:00 p.m. Lots of casting! Highlights include Diana Rigg as Olenna "Queen of Thorns" Tyrell, Thomas Brodie Sangster as Jojen Reed and Ellie Kendrick as Meera. "I flash back to my youth and all of those days I spent watching 'Avengers' and Emma Peel... Wow..." Martin says.
3:02 p.m. "Clearly I have to start killing some of these characters to make room for the new ones," Martin says.
3:04 p.m. On the panel: Producer Carolyn Strauss, Richard "Robb Stark" Madden, Michelle "Catelyn" Fairley, Alfie "Theon" Allen, Rose "Ygritte" Leslie and Emilia Clarke, who was the only Comic-Con repeat panelist. I like Emilia Clarke a lot as a brunette.
3:06 p.m. "Apparently you trusted them with you material," Strauss says, recalling her first meeting with Weiss and Benioff, remembering Benioff's weight/power as a screenwriter. "I, who am not an ardent fantasy reader, was intrigued by it," Strauss says, calling the pitch "a genre-buster," having the pillars and posts of a genre, but taking things in a different direction, comparing it to the way "The Wire" was more than just a police drama.
3:08 p.m. Martin applauds himself for creating gray character, specifically a transition into talking with Alfie about Theon's transition this season. "I wouldn't say in my mind he's a villain. He's just misguided. He issues, but I can't relate to that," Allen says. Alfie Allen's hair is much lighter in in real life. "What's it like doing all those sex scenes?" Martin asks. "It was fine. It was good. I enjoyed it. It was good. I wanted to get in shape for it anyway. I wanted to feel like a warrior." Allen says. He adds, "He's a studmuffin in the 'Game of Thrones' world."
3:12 p.m. "So Richard, you've done a sex scene too," Martin tells Richard Madden. He's a bit obsessed, eh? Madden says he prefers doing violent scenes to sex scenes. "Swinging a sword's a lot more fun," Madden says, blushing at the double-entendre and subsequent laughs.
3:12 p.m. Martin doesn't ask Fairley about sex scenes. She says, however, that she's not impacted by all of the dark stuff she's had to do this season. Because she's an actor and she plays parts. "You just totally have to believe that you are that person," Fairley says, explaining what acting is.
3:14 p.m. Rose Leslie loved working in Iceland. Apparently Leslie was born and raised in a castle? Wow. "It was cold and drafty, but it's home," Leslie says, agreeing that her house had a dungeon and she used to play hide and seek with her sibling. And she doesn't inherit the castle because of her older siblings. Geez. I'm suddenly genuinely intrigued by Rose Leslie.
3:15 p.m. Clarke says that people have started recognizing her a little bit and "When it happens, it really happens." She recounts a story about being in a "lift" at a department store and having a woman just look at her and whisper, "Khaleesi."
3:17 p.m. "I would probably put some money on it," Strauss says of "Game of Thrones" being the first show to shoot in four countries simultaneously. Martin jokes that the Wolf unit is shooting in Belfast, the Dragon unit is in Morocco and Croatia and the Freeze Your Ass unit is in Iceland. "It's a phenomenally difficult show to do, she says.
3:26 p.m. "It was amazing. It was so wonderful. Walking into the tent was like coming home," Clarke says of reuniting with Jason Momoa in the finale.. Apparently the baby in that scene was named Ren and "She liked to break wind quite a lot."
3:27 p.m. From the audience, a guy in Robb Stark costume asks about the most enjoyable scene to film in the past season. "I liked my last scene. I really enjoyed doing that," Allen says, recalling his speech and getting knocked out. "So you liked getting hit in the head very hard better than then naked sex scenes?" Martin says. "I was more the acting, George," Allen shoots back. "I loved working with Richard," Fairley says, singling out her last scene. Madden agrees that he loves working with Michelle.
3:30 p.m. How do they like the costumes and how does that help them get into costume? Madden talks about how his fur changes the way he walks and breathes. He told me this exact same story when I interviewed him. Fairley calls their costume designer a genius, praising her research and her mind. "The detail, the embroidery, everything is just perfect. It's just a delight and privilege to wear some of her designs," Fairley says. "I was so lucky with my hood," Leslie says when Martin asks why people North of the Wall don't wear hats. Martin actually complains that the Qarthian gown has been changed so as not to expose boobies. Clarke seems just a bit uncomfortable.
3:33 p.m. Questioner asks Rose to tell him he knows nothing. "You know nothing! Nothing!" she says. If they could have their own sigil, Strauss's would be an osterich. Fairley's would be a horse. Leslie's would be an eagle. "I think I'm just going to stick with my dragons," Clarke says.
3:34 p.m. Favorite shooting location? Madden says Winterfell. Nobody else gets to answer.
3:35 p.m. Questioner asks if the episodes are truly about The Darkness Today. "It's incredibly relevant," Clarke says. It's about universal issues. Strauss says that this is more complicated than just "Good vs. Evil." Martin doesn't like viewing his books as "any sort of veiled statement on current political controversy." He doesn't want his books viewed as allegory. He shares this reticence with Tolkien.
3:38 p.m. A pretty Khaleesi quesitoner wants Emilia to talk about how she justifies Daenerys' decisions for herself. "I think that every choice she makes is morally justified," Clarke says. Martin says he thinks people appreciate fiction that's morally complex and welcomes any debate about whether what the characters are doing the right things or wrong.
3:40 p.m. A questioner from Iceland asks George about his own turtle sigil. When he was a kid growing up in New Jersey, he lived in a housing project and he wasn't able to have pets other than turtles, so he had a a full toy castle full of turtles and he'd pretend they were knights and kings and queens. "'Game of Thrones' actually began with turtles and I decided to recast it with actual humans," Martin says.
3:42 p.m. Madden thinks the books are great source material. "It's a gift as an actor to have an amazing script that comes from amazing source material," Madden says. "If you have material like George's novels... It gives you the thought process of what the character's going through sometimes," Fairley says.
3:44 p.m. What insecurities does Emilia see in Dany? "Because she is so protective over her people, over her children, her dragons, she needs to be as strong as she can and not show her fear, but she definitely feels it," Clarke says.
3:45 p.m. Nobody asked about the splitting of the third season.
3:45 p.m. One last treat. MARCH 31, 2013 is the premiere date.
That's all folks...