11:35am PT by Georg Szalai
'Game of Thrones': Inside the Belfast Final Season Premiere
Game of Thrones stars Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, John Bradley and more hit the red carpet in Belfast on Friday evening for the HBO drama's final season premiere in Northern Ireland, which has provided a slew of filming locations for the show.
The premiere, which follows last week's world premiere of the first episode of season eight in New York and comes just ahead of its Sunday bow on HBO, took place at the ICC Belfast Waterfront Hall convention center.
“It’s surreal, bizarre and really, really interesting and just overwhelming in so many ways,” Harington, who plays Jon Snow, told The Hollywood Reporter on the indoor red carpet about wrapping up the series. “It’s a surge of relief finishing it and it’s a surge of fear finishing it and it’s a surge of joy and pride. It’s so many feelings wrapped into one. I don’t know how to sum it up. There are no words to describe it.” And what will he miss most about the show? “I’ll miss Northern Ireland. Not that I won’t ever come back, but I’ll miss coming back here for this,” said the star. “I’ll miss the people, I’ll miss the crew. I have made lifelong friends in this and I met my wife. I will see them again, but not in the same arena and in the same costumes.”
Castmembers Bradley (who plays Samwell Tarly), Carice Van Houten (Melisandre), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Conleth Hill (Lord Varys), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), Ben Crompton (Dolorous Edd), Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Pilou Asbaek (Euron Greyjoy), Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) and Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon), along with executive producer Bernadette Caulfield and producer Chris Newman, were among the big names attending the premiere.
Northern Ireland locales that have been used as Game of Thrones filming locations include the Paint Hall studios in Belfast, Carrickfergus Castle, Tullaghoge Fort and Bonamargy Friary.
Many of the stars agreed that they will miss the great team and companionship now that the show has wrapped production. “[I will miss] the people, our cast and crew,” Murray told THR. “I love them all dearly.”
"It’s 100 percent the people,” Bradley echoed. “The good thing is that the people are always going to be there — a text or a phone call away. We’ve become such a tight ship and a close family.”
Added the actor: “I’m going to miss the experience and the work. It’s meant so much to me, it’s been my entire twenties, such a formative period, on this job.”
Hill, meanwhile, quipped that he will miss “the money, obviously.” He added: “And then the good writing and the great stablemates to work with, all of which has just been fantastic. But it’s time to move on, it’s time to do other things.”
How will Wright choose future roles? “Carefully,” he said, chuckling. “For a lot of us on the show, it was the first time our faces were seen on the screen, so there is even more of a connection and association with these characters. Although, there are worse things to [carry] around the rest of your life.”
Echoed Murray about how she will be picking future roles: “Carefully, I guess. I have always had pretty high standards and have always been drawn to good writing, and this has just set the bar even higher really.”
Asbaek said fans can expect Greyjoy in best form in the final season. “I think my iconic moment is still to come in season eight,” he told a group of reporters: “In season six, I killed my brother and I became king of the Iron Islands. So that was pretty cool. And then in season seven, I kidnapped my niece, almost killed my nephew and I asked Jaime [Lannister] if his sister liked to have a finger up her arse. So that was pretty iconic, but I still in season eight I can top those things.”
Bradley shared that the cast and crew are optimistic that fans will enjoy the show’s ending. “We feel really good about it,” he said. “We feel really satisfied with it and can’t wait for people to see it. There is all this pressure after seven seasons of people loving the show — it just creates more pressure to get the ending right. I just didn’t want us to be ashamed of it, and we’re certainly not.”
The Belfast premiere audience certainly gave the cast and the first episode of season eight rousing ovations before heading to the afterparty in a room decorated with costumes and an Iron Throne, along with dragons hanging from the ceiling.
Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for continuing coverage.