Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

'Game of Thrones' stars defend the final season at Comic Con

The showrunners withdrew from the show's Q&A panel, leaving cast members to defend their 'perfect' endings

From left: 'Game of Thrones' stars Maisie Williams, Jacob Anderson, Liam Cunningham and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at the 'Game of Thrones' panel on day two of Comic-Con International: San Diego on Friday, July 19, 2019. AP 
From left: 'Game of Thrones' stars Maisie Williams, Jacob Anderson, Liam Cunningham and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau at the 'Game of Thrones' panel on day two of Comic-Con International: San Diego on Friday, July 19, 2019. AP 

The Game of Thrones cast leapt to the defence of its much-maligned final season in front of a boisterous crowd at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday July 19, blaming the backlash on negative media coverage.

The HBO fantasy epic's conclusion enraged fans around the world, and organisers of the pop culture convention reminded attendees before the retrospective panel to make the cast "feel welcome."

While the cast drew a rapturous reception, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister, was booed after describing his character's death in the arms of his sister and lover Cersei as "perfect."

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 19: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau speaks at the "Game Of Thrones" Panel And Q&A during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 19, 2019 in San Diego, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau speaks at the 'Game Of Thrones' panel and Q&A on day two of Comic-Con International: San Diego on Friday, July 19, 2019. AP

"It made sense to me," said the actor, before being interrupted by a heckler. "This show has brought so many people together, watching it, loving it. So obviously when it comes to an end it's going to piss you off no matter what... just don't call people names."

An online petition to HBO to remake the final season with "competent writers" was signed by 1.6 million people.

The panel was billed as the show creators' first public outing following the backlash.

But showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss quietly withdrew along with two cast members earlier in the week.

The remaining members expressed support for the final season. Conleth Hill, who played Varys, described the fan response to the show over the years as extremely positive, referring to the negativity as a "media-led hate campaign."

The atmosphere quickly lightened as cast members joked about stealing props from the set.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 19: (L-R) Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, and John Bradley speak at the "Game Of Thrones" Panel And Q&A during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 19, 2019 in San Diego, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
From left: Game of Thrones's Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill and John Bradley speak at the 'Game Of Thrones' panel and Q&A on day two of Comic-Con International: San Diego on Friday, July 19, 2019. AP

John Bradley, known to fans as Samwell Tarly, addressed another controversy, shooting down theories that he was to blame for a plastic water bottle accidentally left in shot during the final season.

"Pardon me for being thirsty," he joked.

The comic world's biggest event

After Hollywood film stars Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger dominated Thursday's opening day, television took center stage at Comic-Con Friday.

Netflix surprised attendees by screening the first episode of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, its upcoming prequel series to Jim Henson's classic 1982 fantasy film.

Its combination of old-fashioned puppetry and cutting-edge visual effects aims to cast a spell on old and young alike.

Mark Hamill and Rocketman star Taron Egerton, who both provide voices, appeared in a panel discussion.

Fan favourite Hamill was presented with Comic-Con's "Icon Award," telling the audience he felt lucky "to be able to do all the things I loved as a kid and get paid for it."

"This is just seems wildly excessive," the Star Wars actor joked about the accolade, before serenading the crowd with his Buddi song from the film "Child's Play."

Amazon Prime wheeled out Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, which is set in a fantastical Victorian-esque world filled with mythological immigrant creatures.

Bloom said it was a "great gift and opportunity" to be in a show which was "so timely and... spoke to a lot of the issues with relevance to what's happening in the world today."

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 19: Danai Gurira and Norman Reedus speak at "The Walking Dead" Panel during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 19, 2019 in San Diego, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
Danai Gurira will be leaving 'The Walking Dead' it was confirmed on day two of Comic-Con International: San Diego on Friday, July 19, 2019. AP

AMC used its annual Walking Dead franchise panels to confirm veteran Danai Gurira, who appeared in the recent blockbuster Avengers movies, will depart the zombie show.

Gurira, who first appeared on the series in 2012, received a standing ovation.

Plans were also teased for a series of films starring Andrew Lincoln, who announced his own departure from the show, the highest rated series in cable television history, at last year's Comic-Con.

Earlier, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo said it would be a "big thrill" to pass the all-time box office record held by Avatar, as they set out plans to collaborate with a number of different stars from the Marvel superhero universe.

Endgame is inching ever closer to surpassing James Cameron's $2.788 billion haul. It is currently just $5 million short, and was still playing in 1,400 US theatres at the weekend despite being released in April.

"James Cameron has always been an idol of ours... to be so close to one of his great films is really special," said Anthony.

The filmmaking brothers said their next project Cherry, starring Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, will be a "mature" and "complicated" look at the US opioid crisis.

"It's touched our families, the crisis, so it's a deeply personal movie for us," said Anthony. Filming will begin in October.

Updated: July 20, 2019 02:47 PM

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