"Game of Thrones" ended its eight-season run on HBO in May as the network's most-watched series ever. But the massively popular fantasy series' fans already have more stories from the fictional land of Westeros to look forward to, as HBO has reportedly begun filming a prequel series based on the works of author George R.R. Martin that stars Naomi Watts.
While HBO has been reluctant to share too many details about the upcoming spin-off, there are some things fans already knew about the prequel, which could air sometime in 2020. For instance, the series will be set thousands of years before the action depicted in "Game of Thrones" — but that doesn't mean fans won't hear some familiar names and story lines.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly published on Tuesday, Martin reaffirmed that some characters in the prequel will be ancestors of the many Stark family members who appeared in "Game of Thrones" (Bran, Arya, Sansa and others). "The Starks will definitely be there," Martin said.
HBO and Martin, who is serving as an executive producer on the prequel, have said previously that the prequel series will be set around the time of the Age of Heroes, from Martin's books, a period that would include characters like Brandon the Builder, the legendary founder of House Stark.
And, while "Game of Thrones" focused on the seven kingdoms vying for control of Westeros, Martin told Entertainment Weekly that the period depicted by the prequel will have far less consolidation of power. In fact, Martin said the Westeros featured in the prequel will be split into roughly 100 different kingdoms. "Eventually you get back to where there are a hundred kingdoms — petty kingdoms — and that's the era we're talking about here," he said.
One well-known family that won't be featured on the show — at least at first — is the Lannister family, which is founded in the books by a character named Lann the Clever, who took control of Casterly Rock and was an ancestor of Jaime, Cersei and Tyrion Lannister. "The Lannisters aren't there yet, but Castlery Rock is certainly there; it's like the Rock of Gibraltar," Martin said. "It's actually occupied by the Casterlys — for whom it's still named after in the time of 'Game of Thrones.'"
Other familiar story lines will include the zombie-like White Walkers, who fought living human characters in "Game of Thrones" and who will also figure into the action of the upcoming prequel, Martin confirmed to Entertainment Weekly. "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 said, adding: "There are things like direwolves and mammoths."
HBO previously released a somewhat cryptic summary of the prequel, noting that the new show would cover "the horrifying secrets of Westeros's history to the true origin of the White Walkers." HBO also said Watts' character is "a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret."
Meanwhile, the premium cable network has also been secretive about the eventual name of the prequel series. The show reportedly started filming last month in Northern Ireland under the name "Bloodmoon," while Martin has referred to it by the name "The Long Night." In his interview, Martin even said he'd heard the suggested title "The Longest Night," which he says "would be pretty good."
Expectations for the prequel series are likely high at HBO after "Game of Thrones" broke records, including the finale being the most watched telecast ever on HBO with 19.3 million viewers. The series also picked up a total of 132 Emmy Award nominations (including 38 total wins and three for Outstanding Drama Series) dating back to 2011.
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