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Naomi Watts cast in ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel series

Hold all the doors! In a move that was somehow both out of the blue and utterly unsurprising, HBO greenlighted a Game of Thrones prequel pilot in June 2018 from George R.R. Martin — the author behind A Song of Ice and Fire, the books upon which the original show is based — and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service). That project now has its first confirmed cast member, with two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts joining the series in a lead role.

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According to Variety, Watts will play “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret” in the series, which is expected to begin filming in early 2019.

HBO confirmed the scheduled start of production on the pilot during the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press event. The network is reportedly looking for a director to helm the pilot, with Goldman attached as showrunner and executive producer alongside Martin and several other Game of Thrones executive producers.

The series will be set thousands of years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire. It reportedly involves the final days of the Age of Heroes, a time when many great kings and heroes (Bran the Builder, Lann the Clever, the Grey King) lived. Due to the era in which the show is set, HBO and Goldman have indicated that Game of Thrones fans shouldn’t expect to see any of their favorite characters in the prequel series.

The show is said to chronicle “the world’s descent from the Age of Heroes into its darkest hour, and only one thing is for sure: From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, it’s not the story we think we know.”

Rumors surrounding multiple prequel projects have been flying for a while. It is a bit surprising, though, that Martin would offer his assistance on this particular project, considering he was less than pleased when Thrones deviated heavily from the books (the sixth volume, The Winds of Winter, has been delayed several times thus far).

Apparently, Goldman “won” a sort of contest at HBO in which five writers came up with ideas for prequels and spinoffs; the other four are “still under consideration” at HBO. Her previous writing credits include Kick-AssX-Men: First Class, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and she will be writing the script for Disney’s upcoming live-action Little Mermaid reboot.

Game of Thrones will conclude its eight-season run in 2019, after which showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will go on to develop a trilogy of Star Wars films for Disney. The two reportedly “elected not to be involved” with Goldman’s prequel project.

Updated on October 31, 2018: Added confirmation of Naomi Watts joining the cast of the series.

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