April 4, 2014 at 9:12 AM ET
“Game of Thrones” followed a bit of a formula in its first three seasons: Start off strong and build up to a mind-blowing episode nine before setting up the next season in the finale. But the show won’t be following quite the same route for season four, the drama’s stars told TODAY.
“Let me get you a small, tiny secret,” Liam Cunningham, who plays King Stannis’ loyal man Davos Seaworth, teased. “This thing’s gonna kick off really early! There is going to be jaw-dropping stuff quite early on in the first few episodes.”
“Yeah, it hits the ground running this season!” agreed Michael McElhatton, the man behind new the Warden of the North, Roose Bolton.
Speaking of the North, there’s a new threat brewing when the show returns.
“It’s dangerous times,” said Kristofer Hivju, who plays wildling Tormund Giantsbane.
Rose Leslie, whose fiery Ygritte is like a sister to Tormund, explained further: “The stakes have been upped and the Wall — North of the Wall, South of the Wall against Castle Black — is now very much a threat, a real threat. That’s going to be very exhilarating, to see how it plays out.”
Adding to that trouble? “We meet some really interesting characters with the Thenns,” Leslie said. “They are terrifying with their scars and everything.”
“Really bad guys,” Hivju added. “When it comes to the Free Folk, the Thenns are like the worst sort you can deal with.”
The leader among them will be the towering Styr, played by Russian actor Yuri Kolokolnikov.
Not that the Thenns are all that Jon Snow and the other brothers in black will have to worry about in protecting the realm. After betraying his beloved wildling girl, Ygritte, in the season three finale, the young crow might want to watch his back.
“She is ruthless. She is on a mission,” Leslie said of her character, who left three arrows in her ex for his treachery. “She is out for blood and vengeance … (she’ll) make sure that he does pay.”
But Ygritte isn’t the only one out to right wrongs. This season, fans will meet Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) of Dorne in King’s Landing.
“(Oberyn) is definitely part of the revenge plot of things,” Pedro told us of his brash character. “(His attitude) gets him into all the best kinds of trouble. … He’s a person that doesn’t waste any time and becomes very much part of a season that is full of events and danger around every corner.”
Even more worrisome? His foes appear to be the rulers of the realm, the Lannisters.
“If you’re coming into King’s Landing, you’re coming up against the Lannisters,” Pascal explained. “To sort of function without any regard for their rules, I think can cause very explosive circumstances.”
Finn Jones, who plays Cersei’s betrothed, Loras Tyrell, is one who can’t wait to see the fireworks explode this year.
“I didn’t think it was going to be possible for the show to get any bigger than it is, but with the release of season four, it’s just gonna skyrocket off the planet and into another dimension of … amazingness!” Jones enthused. “It’s kind of exciting and kind of like, ‘Oh my God! What have we created? Kind of a Frankenstein of beautiful beasts!”
“Game of Thrones” premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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