Why Game Of Thrones Actors Aren't Encouraged To Read The Books

There are generally two camps of Game of Thrones viewers: those who have read the books and are ready to dole out comparisons and contrasts at the drop of a crow’s feather, and those who haven’t read the books and are ready to do battle with anyone that attempts to spoil future episodes with novel information. As it happens, most (if not all) of the show’s cast don’t fit into the former category, and they’re all actually discouraged from delving too deeply into the source material. Way to take money out of George R.R. Martin’s pocket, guys.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Game of Thrones star Iain Glen – who plays the loyal Ser Jorah Mormont on the show – claims that the actors are asked not to read the novels ahead of time. After admitting he read the first novel when he got the job, Glen had this to say.

The writers themselves, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], they didn’t particularly want actors coming to the scripts from the book, always suggesting what the book did and how it was different – I could see the glazed look in their eyes when that happened. They were quite happy for us to move forward and treat them as screenplays with no history.

I kind of love that even Benioff and Weiss want little or nothing to do with readers who wish to use their knowledge as a soapbox to holler from. But I also understand their motivations for not wanting the cast to know what happens to their characters ahead of time, as it undoubtedly allows them to perform current scenes with more naturalism and just the slightest tinge of worry, since very few people are actually safe in this fantasy world. Imagine if Sean Bean had known he was going to die in Season 1, what that would have…well, okay, I guess Sean Bean probably expects all of his characters to die and has actually admitted he read the book ahead of time, so that’s a bad example. But you get the idea.

While many of the major beats in the TV show have mirrored those of the books, there are changes made to some characters and situations to spice things up for the small screen. It’s alterations like those that get the books’ fanbase extremely riled up, and even though the actors would presumably be more mature about such things, telling them not to read the books certainly gives Benioff and Weiss some temporary peace when they decide to flip the script.

As it heads into Season 6, Game of Thrones is at the point where it’s no longer relying completely on the novels, and fans are still waiting for Martin to finish writing the sixth book in the series. Maybe it’ll come before Season 6 starts, and maybe it won’t, but we know that Kit Harington probably won’t be reading it to see what Jon Snow’s fate will be.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.