Week in 'Game of Thrones': J.J. Abrams Addresses 'Westworld' Comparisons

Plus, new editions of George R.R. Martin's books are on the way, as is the inevitable 'Thrones' spinoff on HBO.
Courtesy of John P. Johnson/HBO

As of this coming Sunday evening, HBO will be home to both Westeros and Westworld.

The new science fiction series, which sees human guests visiting an expensive and expansive Wild West theme park populated with androids, arrives on Oct. 2 after years and years of development. Westworld, based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name, comes packing serious heat in the form of its all-star cast and creative team — a team that includes backers Bad Robot, J.J. Abrams' production company. 

The name of the show certainly evokes images of Westeros, the fictional kingdom at the heart of HBO's massive hit Game of Thrones. The size and scope of the new series also echoes the Emmy-winning show's vast world and population. But to hear Abrams tell it, the comparisons between Thrones and Westworld end there … or, at least, they should.

"Game of Thrones is a phenomenon that can't be matched, so I think we need to stop comparing it and just say that it's another series on an extraordinary network," Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter at the Westworld premiere in Hollywood. "I feel like everyone working on this, … the pressure is self-imposed. I would love for it to work for HBO, but I want this to work for everybody who spent so much time on this and invested so much and spent so much time away from their families. It's a little intense for people, no question. But I think it's something people will respond to. It deserves an audience."

Here are some of the other headlines from the past week in Thrones

** Abrams wasn't the only person at the Westworld premiere with thoughts on Game of Thrones. THR also spoke with HBO boss Casey Bloys about the franchise's future once Thrones wraps, and he sounded very optimistic about a follow-up: "There are so many properties and areas to go to. For us, it's about finding the right take with the right writer."

** Is Jon Snow's father heading to Westeros? That's what some fans think, after singer Devin Oliver posted a curious photo to his Instagram feed. The actor's platinum blond look certainly fits the description of Rhaegar Targaryen, the late prince of Westeros and secret father of the current King in the North. With Jon's true parentage revealed in the season six finale, it would be no surprise to see an onscreen appearance from Rhaegar, even if it's not Oliver in the role.

** Whether or not they appear onscreen together in season seven, at least Tormund Giantsbane and Lady Lyanna Mormont are meeting up in real life. Actor Kristofer Hivju posted a photo of himself alongside Bella Ramsey, the 11-year-old who plays Lyanna, a tease of what would certainly be one of Game of Thrones' most memorable pairings to date.


A photo posted by Kristofer Hivju (@khivju) on

** Who's surprised to see Game of Thrones score some more award nominations? No one? OK, fair enough. Indeed, Thrones scored three nominations at the 11th annual Hollywood Professional Association Awards in the categories of editing, VFX and sound. Thrones is the reigning champion in the VFX category for the past three years.

** There's a new version of A Song of Ice and Fire in town. No, George R.R. Martin is not yet prepared to unleash The Winds of Winter, the sixth of seven planned books in his fantasy series. Instead, Random House and Apple are teaming together for new editions of the books, featuring interactive character maps and annotations, among other extras … yes, including a preview of Winds.

** Months after his fictional death, departed Game of Thrones star Kristian Nairn is still getting his fair share of requests to "hold the door." But the erstwhile Hodor found himself face-to-face with the entertainment world's most popular door-stopping technique in a surprising place: at his mother's home, where she's putting her son's deceased alter ego to good use.


A photo posted by kristiannairn (@kristiannairn) on

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