Will the direwolves finally get justice in the Game of Thrones prequel? Possibly, according to author George R.R. Martin. While fans of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series were excited to see the close companionship between direwolves and the Starks in HBO’s TV adaptation, the show never really got it right. Worse, they outright maligned the direwolves to the point that the creatures never mattered much in the show anyway. Granted a major reason was because actually filming scenes between the humans and wolves was tricky—the show shot in the UK, but the wolves had to be filmed separately on a soundstage in Los Angeles. But fans were displeased nonetheless.
However, with filming now underway on the Game of Thrones prequel pilot, Martin has revealed to EW that the new series—which takes place roughly 5,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones—will bring the beloved creatures back, along with the Stark family name:
“The Starks will definitely be there,” he said. And while much has been made about the fact the prequel predates dragons, that doesn’t mean there won’t be other creatures. “Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” Martin says. “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”
Will the direwolves be more than just window dressing this time around? We’ll just have to wait and see, but since Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are not involved in the prequel series (it’s being spearheaded by Jane Goldman) perhaps there’s hope?
Additionally, while the Starks will appear, the Lannister family doesn’t yet exist in this particular point in time. But Martin teased that the world of Westeros itself is also very different and far less orderly in the prequel:
“We talk about the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros; there were Seven Kingdoms at the time of Aegon’s Conquest,” Martin says. “But if you go back further then there are nine kingdoms, and 12 kingdoms, and eventually you get back to where there are a hundred kingdoms — petty kingdoms — and that’s the era we’re talking about here.”
The cast for the pilot is anchored by Naomi Watts, but Martin also confirmed that just like Game of Thrones, this new series is very much an ensemble piece.
The currently untitled prequel (Martin suggests it could be called The Longest Night) hasn’t yet been ordered to series by HBO, but that feels like a foregone conclusion. Then again, the Game of Thrones pilot was a disaster and had to be almost entirely reshot, so perhaps HBO just wants to make sure the prequel doesn’t need retooling before officially ordering it to series.
With production on the pilot underway, we should hear firm word about the show’s status—including a possible debut date—later this year. In the meantime, Game of Thrones fans can look forward to one final San Diego Comic-Con panel with the cast and showrunners next weekend.