Paul Gullas writes for Bleeding Cool:
The 2013 Game of Thrones Q&A panel at New York Comic Con was held in one of the larger panel rooms in the 1A section of the Jacob Javits Convention Center. But with HBO viewership (and piracy) records being broken with every season, this year, the panel, which was hosted by WIkia, was upgraded to one of the two Main Stages, where Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne) faced down an adoring Dothraki sea of questioners and fans.
And while Pedro Pascal was nowhere to be seen at the event, the ghost of Oberyn Martell still managed to steal the show, as a Red Viper cosplayer named Tim got a huge ovation from the crowd during a pre-panel warmup routine.
Despite his mother being a “superfan” of the novels, Nairn had only read about two pages of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. He did admit that initially, he would lie when fans asked, and say that he did read all of the books, until they were a couple of seasons in, and he felt his job was secure.
In contrast to Podrick Payne’s timidity, Portman was winning and smiled frequently when interacting with the NYCC crowd. A couple of questioners brought up Pod’s “ladykiller” subplot that ran through Season 3, prompting Portman to put on a pair of sunglasses and reply that Pod did “lots and lots of things” to the King’s Landing brothel ladies.
Nairn’s favorite location to shoot in was the “beautiful mountaintop” in Northern Island at the end of Season 2 as Hodor, Bran & company left Winterfell. For Portman, it was a different mountain–the one where we saw Brienne and the Hound fight at the end of Season 4.
Nairn described how the atmosphere on set has slightly changed over the years, as the show’s success has exploded. Everybody has gotten more confidence, with every part of production having become a “powerhouse”.
The odd couple pairing of Podrick and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) came up several times during the panel. Was it intimidating for Portman to shoot with a woman “a foot taller than you”?
“She’s not that much taller than me, mate!”, he exclaimed to laughter. “She’s six-foot-three-inches tall, she’s not like, seven-and-a-half-feet tall. She wears boots that make her taller as well. But yes, it’s incredibly intimidating”
When asked about any standout experiences during downtime on set, Nairn mentioned that Isaac Hempstead-Wright likes to do video diaries and news reports, which is “remarkably annoying” especially when Nairn is trying to sleep. Portman mentioned that Gwendoline Christie is “a very vibrant person”, and that there’s always “a lot of laughter” when they work together. Peter Dinklage keeps to himself on set a lot more.
Nairn said that during the table reads, most actors aren’t even in character at the table reads, but Diana Rigg amazed even the experienced actors in the cast.
They were asked about any funny stories from set. On Portman’s second day on set, during Season 2’s “Blackwater”, all he had to do was run up the stairs, and hand Tyrion an axe. Portman slipped and fell down the stairs, ripped his trousers from “one knee all the way down to my crotch”.
Nairn does not DJ on set, but does DJ at a club in Belfast and mentioned that he’s seen “Gwen, Finn [Jones], and Gethin [Anthony]” on the dance floor, with someone “swinging Gwen’s handbag around their head”.