Crashing the Game of Thrones party at San Diego Comic-Con

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Peter Dinklage, Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke on the Game of Thrones panel, San Diego Comic-Con July 21 2011.

Peter Dinklage, Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke on the Game of Thrones panel, San Diego Comic-Con July 21 2011.

2011 San Diego Comic-Con Day One

On Thursday, July 21, the first official day of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, one of the highlights of the 4,000-capacity Ballroom 20 was the panel for Game of Thrones. A critical and popular hit on HBO, the series is based on a bunch of fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, and the ballroom was packed with people wanting to know what is in store for Season Two.

Exec producer David Benioff said if they could get to the point in the third novel, A Storm of Swords, and an event he referred to as the “R.W.” (which I have since discovered stands for the “Red Wedding”, I think) he’d be happy.

Other revelations; actor Peter Dinklage looked like he did not want to be there; Jason Momoa, who plays the barbarian king Khal Drogo, made a joke about getting to (in character) “rape beautiful women”; actress Emilia Clarke effused about her character Danaerys’ arc from meek chattel to dragon queen; and there won’t be any deleted scenes on the DVD (most of what they shot went into the series).

More interesting, perhaps, was what happened later in the evening. Through a fluke far too boring to get into, I found myself on the second floor of the Hard Rock Hotel, in a room where HBO was throwing a small, intimate party with buffet-style food for the Game of Thrones cast and crew.

The first sight I saw was actress Piper Perabo of Covert Affairs (and, more importantly, the 2000 movie Coyote Ugly), posing for a photo with Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey. They were on their way out, though, and when their glitter-dust faded I took stock of the room.

There was Momoa, who also plays Conan in this summer’s Conan the Barbarian; Benioff; author George R.R. Martin; and Emilia Clarke, as well as a bunch of others who must have been HBO execs.

When you’re thrust into a situation like this, or at least when I am, my first instinct is to clam up, which is what I did.

I couldn’t very well do what I wanted to do, i.e. talk to the stars (and Martin), because people would immediately twig onto the fact that I shouldn’t be in there. Besides, there was a host bar and a bartender willing to pour me Grey Goose martinis, so I retreated to a corner with my drink and pretended to be interested in my phone while watching what was going on around me.

Martin, round and white-bearded, was holding court at one table. The lovely Clarke smiled and laughed at another, less populated table. Momoa had removed his jacket to reveal his arms and was showing the bartenders how to pop off beer bottle caps with another beer bottle.

At one point one of his friends, a guy I’ll call Darryl, wondered over. I made up some bullshit story of who I was with and he didn’t seem to question it. We chatted about how he is basically paid to hang out with Momoa and keep an eye on him, and that Momoa was recently filming (I think Darryl said in Mexico) with Chris Evans, star of the current superhero blockbuster Captain America, and whom at least some people on set referred to as “Captain Arrogant”.

I asked about Conan the Barbarian, and Darryl said it was going to be “huge for Jason”, but that it’s only a so-so movie, that the producers kept pushing for more corn because they were scared of losing their investment.

He wandered off and I decided to help myself to a little food from the buffet table. I took my plate and sat down at a table, risking more conversation. Momoa came over to get his jacket from a nearby chair. “Hey,” I said. “Can you show me how to open beer bottles the way you were doing just now?” (Jesus, could I be any more obsequious?)

“No,” he said, grabbing his jacket from the chair behind me. The jacket struck me in the head on its ascension in his big meaty grip. “Only Kahl Drogo can open beers that way!” And with that he left.

I did too, soon after, to crash another party.

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