Only one abbreviated season of Game of Thrones is left before the final credits roll, but that won't necessarily be the end of the action in Westeros and beyond. Multiple spinoffs have been in development, and one scored a pilot order over the summer. Now, we know that Naomi Watts of The Impossible and Gypsy has landed the lead role.
Naomi Watts has landed a starring role in the Game of Thrones prequel spinoff pilot, which does not yet have a title, and not a whole lot of details are currently available about what to expect. Watts is slated to play a socialite with no shortage of charisma, but -- like many of the Game of Thrones characters -- she hides a dark secret.
The character's name has not yet been revealed, according to THR, so we can only speculate at this point if she's a member of one of the noble houses of Westeros. Naomi Watts could certainly be a good fit for a Targaryen character based on her looks, although having blonde hair hardly means that she must be a Targaryen. After all, Emilia Clarke only recently went blonde in real life.
Still, the Targaryens would still be around during the time of the prequel, which is set thousands of years before Game of Thrones, so it's not impossible. The pilot was created by Jane Goldman, and she'll serve as executive producer and showrunner, along with George R.R. Martin.
Book fans can only hope that the prequel doesn't keep him so busy that he can't keep working on Winds of Winter. The setting so far ahead of Game of Thrones means even diehard fans can't predict exactly what the prequel will cover, if ordered to series. Since this is a Game of Thrones spinoff pilot, it shouldn't surprise anybody that the pilot is getting a lot of resources to film, and filming could kick off sooner than expected.
Interestingly, the news of Naomi Watts' casting comes shortly after a casting call for the spinoff pilot hit the web, and the descriptions for the characters give the impression that the pilot will at least feature characters from Essos and perhaps the Summer Isles. Only time will tell. If this spinoff is the one to get a series order, we'll get to see Naomi Watts in action.
Game of Thrones will return in 2019, with the prequel at some point after if ordered to series from the pilot. Given how little footage HBO has released about Game of Thrones' last season, we may not want to expect too many details released about the spinoff if it really happens. The network can be reasonably confident about gaining an audience even if little footage hits the airwaves early. Game of Thrones fans may be in Westeros withdrawal, especially if Winds of Winter doesn't happen in the foreseeable future.
The good news is that speculation can be a lot of fun when it comes to the Game of Thrones universe. Between all the lore about the history of the universe created by George R.R. Martin and the show's adaptation, there are a lot of factors to take into account when imagining the future of the franchise, if technically the past of Game of Thrones.
The prospective spinoff is teased as containing "horrifying secrets of Westeros' history" as well as the "true origin of the White Walkers," which we may need to take to mean that Game of Thrones won't reveal that true origin in its final batch of episodes. The new project is slated to tackle parts of the East that have not yet been explored on HBO, and the Starks from hundreds and hundreds of years past.
A lot of what we can accurately guess about the pilot depends on when exactly it is set. Most reports of the prequel place it as "thousands" of years before the events of Game of Thrones, which opens it up to a lot of major events Thrones characters have only talked about. A different report claimed the spinoff will take place only a thousand years ahead of the flagship series, but I'm still inclined to believe that the pilot will be set further back.
Why? Well, when the spinoff pilot was first ordered, it was described as following the transition from "the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour." The Age of Heroes on Game of Thrones and in the still-incomplete A Song of Ice and Fire book saga was around 8,000 years ahead of the War of the Five Kings. Assuming that descriptions holds true, we should expect the new characters to hail from further than 1 thousand years in the past.
If the "darkest hour" refers to the Long Night that plunged Westeros into the legendary winter that lasted a full generation and saw the first emergence of the White Walkers into the south, we can probably count on the Children of the Forest appearing, and perhaps the birth of Bran the Builder, who built the Wall after the first time the White Walkers were pushed back into the far north.
If one fan theory is correct and Bran used his Three-Eyed Raven powers to go back in time and build the Wall as Bran the Builder, that could open the door for at least one Game of Thrones actor to reprise their role for the spinoff. As I said, a lot depends on when the spinoff pilot is set. The Age of Heroes undoubtedly didn't plunge into its darkest hour overnight, so it would be interesting to see how the transition is handled.
Game of Thrones went from a time of seeming contentment between the Seven Kingdoms under Robert Baratheon's reign to chaos by the end of the first season, when Joffrey had Ned Stark executed and messed up just about all the players' plans. The spinoff could follow the same sort of format and end the Age of Heroes early on to focus on the darkness.
Alternately, it could stand apart from its predecessor and spend more time on the Age of Heroes before everything goes wrong and winter comes. The description of Naomi Watts' character as a socialite seems to place her somewhere prior to a devastating long winter. In the stories told of the Long Night, I don't recall anybody chatting about the social scene. Maybe Old Nan didn't get that far in her stories before her death.
Only time will tell. For now, we can always rewatch the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones and read the published materials courtesy of George R.R. Martin to help speculate about what's to come if the pilot is ordered to series and makes it to the airwaves following the end of Thrones.