‘Game of Thrones’ tour in Malta (part 2)

The TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ follows the storylines from the book ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ written by George R.R. Martin and set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The series chronicles the battle of each kingdom to control the famous Iron Throne. The first season is a faithful adaptation of the novel and leads us right to… Malta.

The show has been filmed in many different locations across Europe and Africa including Morocco, Iceland, Malta and Croatia, but the majority of filming took place in Northern Ireland. Tourists and fans can now step in the same places that their heroes did, by visiting the unaltered locations on Malta.

Here is part 2 of my GoT Tour and I’ll introduce you to a unique location on Gozo, Malta’s sister island.

Azure Window 1

In Season 1 Episode 1 « Winter is coming« , Daenerys Targaryen’s memorable wedding scene to the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo was filmed at the Azure Window, a stunning rock formation in the form of an arch at Dwerja, that frames the bay beyond. Sadly, the arch is expected to fall apart in the next few months (or probably weeks).

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (3)Game of Thrones - Behind the Scenes - Azure Window (1)

A great celebration is held for their marriage in the Free City of Pentos (Essos).

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (8)

Several Dothraki die in duels, which is a good sign : « A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair« .Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (23)

The couple receive many gifts from their guests. One of the boxes contains three beautiful stones.

Game of Thrones - Behind the Scenes - Azure Window (3)

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (40)

According to Illyrio Mopati (a merchant-prince and a Magister of the Free City of Pentos), these are dragon eggs from the Shadow Land beyond Asshai.

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (42)

They have turned to stone with the passing of time.

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (31)

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (11)

In the background, you can see Fungus Rock, a small islet in the form of a massive lump of limestone, at the entrance to the Dwejra lagoon.

Fungus Rock

Game of Thrones  -Behind the Scenes - Azure Window (14)

The second interesting gift is a bunch of books containing stories and songs from the Seven Kingdoms given by Ser Jorah Mormont (an exiled Northern lord living in Essos).

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (34)

He introduces himself and tells her that he served her father for many years.

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (37)

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (28)

For his gift, Drogo gives Daenerys a beautiful white stallion named Silver.

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (46)

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (49)

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (52)

Azure Window 2

Viserys asks his sister Daenerys to make Drogo ‘happy’.

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (54)

Drogo lifts Dany onto her horse, and they ride to a cliff top where he begins to take her dress off.

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (55)

She begins to cry as she looks out over the ocean…

Game of Thrones @ Azure Window S01E01 (57)

Next location : Mdina… (to be continued)

Conversation with Tom Wlaschiha

Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Jaqen H’ghar in the TV show « Game of Thrones » was one of the main guests at the Digital Game Manga Show in Strasbourg from May 7-8, 2016. The German born actor talked about his mysterious character and how « Game of Thrones » changed his life.

Tom Wlaschiha @ Digital Game Show Strasbourg 08.05.2016 (8)

Were you afraid that your character Jaqen H’ghar would die in the show ?
No, not really… I think that Jaqen H’ghar is already dead ! He has the face of a dead man. If the producers would chose to kill me, someone else would take my face.

How did the other actors react when they realized that their characters would die, especially Kit Harington ?
I don’t know how Kit reacted. He is still alive, I met him recently ! It’s pretty cool that in this show anything can happen, especially when you don’t expect it… But it’s not a problem for me that people die !

In how many countries did you travel for the show ?
Most of the show is shot in Ireland, the studios are in Belfast and there is always a set in the South. During season 6, it was in the South of Spain and for seasons 4 and 5, it was in Croatia. But my parts are mainly in a studio, because Jaqen H’ghar likes to be inside.

Tom Wlaschiha @ Digital Game Show Strasbourg 08.05.2016 (4)

Do you have any expectation for your character in the future ?
Like I said, with Game of Thrones, you can not have any expectations ! And if you have some, then you can be sure that they will not happen because the producers and George R.R. Martin are totally unpredictable and whatever you think will happen… does not happen. But of course, I expect to see Jaqen H’ghar on the iron throne at the end.

You’re German, and live in Berlin. How did you end up playing in Game of Thrones ?
First, I did a lot of theatre in Germany, then I did movies and TV shows, also in Germany. I don’t know how many of you watch German TV… Somehow, I got bored in Germany and then I looked for a UK agency, because I wanted to do more international stuff. I was lucky to get a role in Game of Thrones, that became such a big success everywhere. But for an actor, it doesn’t matter where you shoot : Germany, USA, UK… The most important is the script. And at the moment, I think the best ones come from USA and UK.

Tom Wlaschiha @ Digital Game Show Strasbourg 08.05.2016 (3)

How many other seasons of Game of Thrones will we have ?
I don’t know… I think the producers said that there would be 2 more seasons after season 6. That’s the only thing I know.

Can we expect to see you in a movie in a near future ?
I hope so. Actually I don’t know yet, because for as long as Game of Thrones is running, I have a contract, but I don’t know if I would be on the next season. I will only find out in a few weeks if I’m going to be on the next season, so I have to keep the time free for this. And if I die, then I can do other stuff, yeah…

How often do you see George R.R. Martin ?
I have only met George once, he’s usually not on the set. I met him at the premiere of season 5. He’s very funny.

Tom Wlaschiha @ Digital Game Show Strasbourg 08.05.2016 (7)

Would you like to play in a French movie ?
Yes, I would love to ! I already had two opportunities that I had to decline, because Game of Thrones didn’t allow me to do it. Well, maybe Game of Thrones isn’t such a good thing…

What do you think of the French cinema ?
The French cinema is very special in Europe, because it’s a total different style. I love French cinema… I’m not a fan of blockbusters or action movies. I love French movies where two characters can talk for hours, sitting at a table ! I’m also an fan of Isabelle Huppert, I would love to do a movie with her.

Tom Wlaschiha @ Digital Game Show Strasbourg 08.05.2016 (6)

You play a dark and cold murderer in Game of Thrones. How do you get prepared for your role ?
I don’t need to get prepared, that’s how I am in real life ! I don’t find it that difficult… What is interesting in Game of Thrones, is that the caracters are very complex. There are very human, nothing is black or white. The all have secrets, that’s what makes the story so interesting for the viewers. I don’t think it’s really Fantasy, I would say it’s more like… Shakespeare.

What is your favourite character in the show ?
Well, I have to say Arya and Tyrion. But I especially like twisted characters like Joffrey and Ramsay Bolton.

Do you have any funny story from the set ?
Nothing funny happens… Most of the time, all my scenes are with Arya, so we’re sitting backstage. As an actor, you wait most of the time : 80 % of your time is waiting. So, we sit and play videogames and we try to beat each other. Of course, I win ! We have to concentrate on our work. It’s great to act with Arya (Maisie Williams), she’s really a natural. When I first met her, she was 13 years old and now she’s 18. So she’s growing with her character, which is pretty cool.

Talking about video games…. What kind of games do you play ?
I was sure that you would ask that question ! I usually play games on my phone, like 2084. It’s very boring as I told you !

What’s your favourite death in the show ?
My favourite death scene is definitely « The Red Wedding » at the end of season 3, because it came so unexpected. Even if I had read the books before. Also, speaking of films… For television it is a great sequence, the way it’s filmed – visually and dramatically – it’s pretty unique.

Tom Wlaschiha @ Digital Game Show Strasbourg 08.05.2016 (2)

Are there other German actors on the set of Game of Thrones ?
Right now, I’m the only one but Sibel Kekilli played Shae. She’s also from Germany but unfortunately… dead now.

You have a little accent in the show. Do you have a coach on set who helps you ?
The producers of the show do not want any American actor because it’s a middle-age story. An American accent wouldn’t fit. That’s why most of the actors are English, Irish or from other European countries. But we have some languages coaches on set who are here to check if there is any mistake.

‘Game of Thrones’ tour in Malta (part 1)

The TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ follows the storylines from the book ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ written by George R.R. Martin and set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The series chronicles the battle of each kingdom to control the famous Iron Throne. The first season is a faithful adaptation of the novel and leads us right to… Malta.

game-of-thrones-tour

The show has been filmed in many different locations across Europe and Africa including Morocco, Iceland, Malta and Croatia, but the majority of filming took place in Northern Ireland. Tourists and fans can now step in the same places that their heroes did, by visiting the unaltered locations on Malta.

And that’s what we did too by booking a private « Game of Thrones Film Tour« .

Malcolm, our host, picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the first location : Attard, in the central part of Malta.

Malcolm Malta Film Tours

Our host : Malcolm, the Game of Thrones Master

SAN ANTON GARDENS

Attard is a lovely little city, located between Mdina and Valletta in the central part of Malta.  The town is keen on caring for its parks, such as ‘San Anton Gardens’ that is surrounding the Presidents Palace. The local motto is ‘Florigera Rosis Halo‘, which means « I perfume the air with my blossoms« . Have a look at it and you will understand why.

San Anton Palace GOT S1 (1)

San Anton Gardens is a botanical garden open to the public since 1882. It houses many beautiful flowers and an open courtyard, and also hosts floral shows and competitions. The garden has several walkways that take you through the green gardens where you will discover fountains, ponds with families of ducks and several plants and flowers as well as other trees from all over the world some of them over three centuries old.

San Anton Gardens 2

Episode 4 « Cripples, bastards and broken things »

San Anton Palace

San Anton Palace s1e4

In King’s Landing, Littlefinger meets with Eddard and suggests that he keep his investigation into Jon Arryn’s death lower in profile. He also advises him to investigate an armorer located in the city. Eddard decides that Littlefinger may be more trustworthy than he first thought, but Littlefinger discourages him to think that way… We’ll understand later why.

s1e4 (3)

San Anton Gardens

Once we’ve crossed the San Anton Gardens and the famous black swans couple, we reach the San Anton Palace and its small church.

San Anton Gardens

SAN ANTON PALACE as THE RED KEEP

In the early 17th century, Antoine de Paule, a French knight from the Order of St John built on this site a country villa which he enlarged after he became Grand Master in 1623. Successive Grand Masters continued to use the palace as their country residence. When the Maltese rebelled against the Frence (1799-1800), San Anton became the seat of the National Assembly. As chief of the Maletese Congress and Chief Commissioner, Captain Alexander Ball resided at the Palace and built the open loggias and the balustrade walk.

In the British period, it was used as the Governor’s summer residence until 1928 when San Anton replaced Valletta as the permanent residence of the sovereign’s representative. In 1888, Governor Sir Arthur Borton opened up the now public part of the palace gardens.

Since 1974, the gardens has been the official residence of the president of the Republic of Malta. The Palace has over the years welcomed within its walls a large number of distinguished visitors to Malta, including many royal personages, heads of state, statesmen and men of letters.

San Anton Palace GOT s1e3

San Anton Palace stands in for some parts of the Red Keep. In the first scene on screen, the Starks arrive there and use their stables.

San Anton Palace 1

Episode 3 « Lord Snow »

San Anton Palace GOT s1e3

P1180695

Malcolm explained us that almost none of the locations on screen were different from reality : « what you see is what you get« . And proof will follow.

San Anton Palace GOT s1e3

San Anton Palace GOT s1e3

San Anton Palace GOT s1e3

« AH THE STARKS… GREAT TEMPERS, SLOW MIND… » (Robert Baratheon)

The San Anton Palace is also the Red Keep’s Hallway, where Varys and Littlefinger inform Ned Stark that the Goldcloaks are under his control.

San Anton Palace GOT s1e7

San Anton Palace 1

Episode 7 « You win or you die »

s1e7 (73)

San Anton Palace GOT s1e7

Thanks to our guide, we got a lot of inside info, set news, backstage tips and a little bit of gossip as well.

you-win-or-you-die-05-1920

Episode 5 « The Wolf and the Lion »

agot-behind-scene-012

s1e5 (2)

San Anton Palace s1e5

s1e5 (5)

 

Sansa Stark walks down a corridor in King’s Landing with Septa Mordane, when sounds of fighting reach their ears. Lannister men have begun to slaughter the Stark guards. Septa sends Sansa to her chambers, warning her to bar the doors. Sansa hurries away as a group of Lannisters advance on her governess, gripping bloodied swords. The young girl rushes though passageways, but her escape is blocked by the Hound.

IMG_6691

s1e8 (5)

Episode 8 « The pointy end »

s1e8 (9)

s1e8 (11)

s1e8 (13)

SAINT DOMINIC CONVENT as THE GODSWOOD

St Dominic Convent Malta

Our journey continues to Rabat, a small village located just outside the old capital city Mdina. It was once the suburb of Mdina. In the 15th century, while the area served as a shelter from constant pirate attacks, several religious orders arrived in Rabat, remaining there ever since. We stopped at the Saint Dominic Convent.

game og thrones malta bts

game of thrones s1e7

A very quiet and peaceful place with a fountain in the middle of beautiful gardens. The place is less messy than a few years ago.

‘IN THIS GAME OF THRONES YOU WIN OR YOU DIE, THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND » (Cersei Baratheon)

game of thrones s1e7

Episode 7 : « You win or you die »

game of thrones s1e7

In the Godswood at King’s Landing, Ned tells Queen Cersei Baratheon that he knows the truth that Jon Arryn died for : that her brother Jaime – not King Robert Baratheon – fathered her children. She admits as much and tells Ned that she’s reviled Robert ever since their wedding night, when he drunkenly called her by the name of his true love, Lyanna (Ned’s sister). Ned suggests her to flee with her children, before Robert returns from hunting and learns the truth.

game of thrones s1e7

s1e7 (16)

you-win-or-you-die-01-1920

Next location : Gozo (… to be continued)

Conversation with Miltos Yerolemou

« Britain’s got talent » and we know it. Miltos Yerolemou is one of the few actors who can play everything, from Shakespeare to the First Sword of the Sealord of Braavos… Conversation with one of the fan-favorite actors of « Game of Thrones » about theatre, Syrio Forel and his next movie…

Miltos Yerolemou

– Miltos, could you introduce yourself ? You have a lovely Greek name, but you’re based in London…

– Yes, it means ‘the red earth‘. I am in Bristol at the moment and just finished a run of “A Midsummer Nights Dream” at the Bristol Old Vic. We are about to take the show to the “Spoleto Festival” in America next week.

– Your character Syrio Forel became quickly very popular among the “Game of Thrones” fans. What do you think about your character and did you expect such a charisma coming out of him ? 

– We all like unconventional, inspiring teachers. Syrio comes from a long line of them in fantasy fiction, like Obi Wan Kenobi and Mister Miyake from the Karate Kid ! His role in Arya’s story is why he became a fan favourite, but I never expected the reaction to my performance… Syrio has a lot of ‘me’ in him.

Miltos Yerolemou-Syrio Forel-Game of Thrones (2)

– Where do your fencing skills come from ?

– Many years of sword fighting at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company plus a background in dance. This means I can pick up choreography very easily.

– People keep on wondering why you didn’t take the sword from one of the guards you had already knocked down…

– Who said I didn’t ? 🙂

– How did they get the idea of an Italian accent for Syrio ?

– It is not Italian. I am Greek Cypriot and I used a little of that, but I did not want to make it a specific accent – as Braavosi is a fantasy language – and so I used a little Greek, a little Italian and a little Spanish and then pushed it East into Persia…

– How do you think your character ended ? The fact that we don’t see him dying leaves every door open to see him coming back when we don’t expect him anymore… In a TV show, no one is really dead ! 

– This is true ! Part of me likes to think he gave his life defending this girl he grew to admire and love and he is a man of honour who is not afraid of death. On the other hand, he is the first sword of Braavos and I don’t think you can kill him that easy.

Miltos Yerolemou-Syrio Forel-Game of Thrones (3)

– What other character of the show would you find interesting to play ? 

– Varys (played by Conleth Hill). In fact, that was the part I first read for when I was approached to be part of “Game Of Thrones”.

– Have you read the entire saga « A song of ice and fire » ? If so, before or after playing Syrio ? Did it help you building your character or did the production team have a different point of view ?

– I am reading “Storm of Swords”. I did read the first book before filming, but it helped a little – not a lot – as Syrio is deliberately enigmatic. That’s what makes him so appealing. But it gave me a sense of the world and I loved G.R.R. Martin’s writing.

– Is there a little bit of Syrio in you or did he leave you something ?

– Syrio is definitely me and I am Syrio !

– Miltos, you have an impressive list of British theater credits. I guess Shakespeare has no secrets for you anymore… 

– Oh, that’s the exciting thing about Shakespeare : you can perform it all your life and it will always surprise you !

Miltos Yerolemou in Shakespeare's 'The Comedy of Errors' (2009)

Miltos Yerolemou in Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’ (2009)

– How did you discover your love for theatre and what was your first stage memory ?

– I was playing the barman in “Bugsy Malone” when I was 9 years old. I never looked back after the first custard pie in the face !

– What’s your favourite Shakespeare play ?

– “Hamlet” and my favourite role : Iago in “Othello”.

– Now that you’ve experienced many different things, what do you prefer : theatre, TV or movies ?

– I love both for different reasons, and now I want to do more TV and films.

– A few months ago, you shot a short film beside James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont in « Game of Thrones ») named “The Boogeyman” that all Stephen King fans will recognize. How did you both end up working on this project ?

– I love James and it has been an honour to get to know him a little, as I have always admired him as an actor of infinite dexterity and power. We were asked and I wasn’t going to say “no”to spend some more time with such a brilliant human being !

– Horror movies are far away from what you’ve played until now… What was the real challenge in playing Lester Billings ? And how did you get prepared for such a role ? 

– You don’t prepare… With horror, you have to live in the moment and react to any given situation. In fact, most film acting should be spontaneous and impulsive. Trust your instincts and don’t think too much. Just react. That will be honest and powerful.

Miltos Yerolemou-The Boogeyman (1)

– Did you know Stephen King’s world before working on “The Boogeyman” ?

– Yes, I read him as a teenager and before filming this film, I re-read the short stories and was reminded what a fantastic and profound writer he is.

– Where and when can we expect to see you in “The Boogeyman” ?

– Hopefully sometime this year ! Ill let you know when I know !

You can Check Miltos’ website or follow him on Twitter but also have a look at The Boogeyman‘s website.