By Shirley Li
July 22, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: HBO

Winter is here … in the middle of summer.

The cast and crew from Game of Thrones arrived at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday to discuss the record-breaking season 6 and what’s ahead for season 7.

“Winter is here and we gotta shoot where there are trees … and we’re waiting to shoot later in the year so we won’t finish shooting until February and there’s no way to get the show out there until summer,” Game of Thrones executive producer David Benioff told It’s Always Sunny star Rob McElhenney, who was moderating the Com-Con panel.

The status of winter on the show was a popular thread on Friday; the panel began with a parody video starring It’s Always Sunny cast members McElhenney and Charlie Day, and featuring this question of the Thrones actors: “When the f— is winter coming?”

Earlier this week, HBO confirmed season 7 will return with seven episodes in the summer of 2017, a delay from the show’s usual spring start. Speaking to the UFC Unfiltered podcast earlier this month, Weiss explained how “sunny weather doesn’t really serve our purposes any more” since winter has arrived on the hit series. “We kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim grey weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot,” he added.

The Thrones team has expressed a desire to end the series after 73 hours and eight seasons, meaning just 13 episodes could remain, split across season 7 and 8. “We’ve known for several years now how many hours, roughly, we want it to go, it hasn’t changed,” Benioff said to EW this year. HBO has not yet confirmed anything about season 8 nor the show’s potential end.

The panel was a lively affair, with Benioff joking star Sophie Turner made the cast do shots of vodka before coming out on stage. “I’m 20, I didn’t do any of that,” Turner said.

Other highlights:

— Director Miguel Sapochnik, who was behind the camera for the epic “Battle of the Bastards” episode as well as the season 6 finale, says he’d very much hope to direct something in season 8, seeing as he’s skipping the next season.

— Nathalie Emmanuel on Missandei’s future: “It’s hard to know what the future brings for her but I think that she genuinely believes in Daenerys and her claim. Daenerys has saved her life and liberated her and acknowledged her brilliance… these are two women who respect and lift each other up. It’s a really sweet friendship… so I kind of hope that Missandei continues to support Daenerys and they continue to be this girl power couple.”

— Sophie Turner on Sansa’s sibling rivalry with Jon Snow (and how she really feels about his leadership skills): “I think she believed it was probably more of a joint effort in terms of the Battle of the Bastards, she thinks they should be King and Queen of the North, I’m not so sure she’s so keen on the Iron Throne anymore. I’m not sure she thinks Jon is capable of running Winterfell and the North… She doesn’t think he has the intellect, the knowledge and the experience that she has, and I concur.”

— Waif actress Faye Marsay on if Arya and Waif are Fight Club-ing: “I think the theory was a cool one, but I think Arya is Arya and that’s her journey and I think the way it is now is the best way, the theory is good and it’s creative but they’ve got it right, the writers.”

— Asked who will win the Iron Throne, everyone had opinions:

Miguel Saponik (director): “I would be very happy if they shared it, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos): “The only hint we have of this is George R.R. Martin said the ending will be ‘bittersweet’ and that doesn’t give too much away. Knowing the deranged minds we’re dealing with on this show… I have an image of a White Walker siting on the Iron Throne… The Night King with a leg over an arm smoking a cigar.”

John Bradley-West (Samwell Tarly): “It’s hard… what if I’m right, someone flashes back to this, and JB spoils it all? Just out of pure loyalty, I’d say… Jon. Just because that means I may be there until the end.”

Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei): “I have a similar motive in that I have to say Daenerys for the loyalty thing, she’s a good girl, she can be very ferocious but she generally wants to care for people… but at the same time I’m also excited for the Starks to come together so who knows?”

Conleth Hill (Lord Varys): “I know, but I can’t say.”

Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark): “I think I’d want Littlefinger on the throne [crowd boos]. I just think it’d be fun, it’d be quirky, sadistic. We like that kind of thing. Come on we all watch Game of Thrones.”

Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton): “I would melt the thing down and have a democracy.” [Crowd cheers]

Faye Marsay (Waif): “Probably Arya, because if I don’t say Maisie Williams, she’d probably beat me up with a stick.”

Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark): “I think we should have a four pronged Stark dream team…. With Bran just sitting in the corner with a tree.”

Kristian Nairn (Hodor): “I think the Throne’s probably not going to be important by the end of the show, I think there will be a huge battle between the Night King and Daenerys… I think Westeros deserves someone with honor and integrity so I think Brienne (actress Gwendoline Christie) would be good.” [crowd cheers, people stand]

— A teaser video showing the Game of Thrones team preparing for season 7 production was also shown, intermixed with voiceover from season 6. Including in the video: shots of people sawing wood and building a set, a Lannister banner unfurling, the Iron Throne, shots of the Mountain’s armor, of the weapons used on the show, people labeling props, fingers typing on a keyboard. It ended with: “Welcome home, my queen.”


— Another video! A blooper reel highlighting the many mistakes actors made during season 6. Head here for more on that clip.

Thrones enjoyed a massive season 6, breaking ratings records with more than 25 million viewers per week across all platforms. The show also scored 23 Emmy nominations, a high-water mark for this year’s awards, including best drama, which it won last year (one of 12 total awards Thrones took home in 2015).

MORE Thrones: Season 7 predictions

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'
  • TV Show
  • 8
  • 73
  • TV-MA
  • 04/17/11-05/19/19
Complete Coverage
Available For Streaming On

Episode Recaps