‘Game of Thrones’ Director Defends Ed Sheeran: He “Deserved to Be There”
Of all the cameos on Game of Thrones, one celeb appearance rankled fans unlike any other.
Ed Sheeran’s role on the show wasn’t any closely-guarded secret, but fans were still surprised to see the singer-songwriter in the Season 7 premiere.
Luckily, the “Shape of You” singer has one supporter in his corner: Jeremy Podeswa, the director of the episode.
In that episode, “Dragonstone,” Arya Stark had just obliterated House Frey and was riding south when she encountered a band of Lannister soldiers responding to that same “trouble with the Freys up at the Twins,” as one soldier told her.
The men — Ed’s character included — had stopped to eat, rest, and sing, and they invited Arya to share their blackberry wine and roast rabbit. They asked her where she was going, and they all laughed when she said she was going to kill the queen.
When The Daily Beast asks Jeremy what it was like to direct Ed Sheeran in that scene, Jeremy’s response is enthusiastic and immediate: “Delightful!”
“Genuinely,” he adds. “He is a lovely person; he’s really down-to-earth. If you didn't know that he was a pop star or an entertainer of any kind, you would think he’s just one of the guys. And he is.
“He really just wanted to do a great job. He’s been acting for a little while; he takes it very seriously. And he was a real trouper, too. We were shooting in the middle of nowhere in Northern Ireland. He sat around outside with the cast and crew all day long, and just kind of hung out and was good-humored and lovely. He took direction well. He really could not have been nicer.”
Thrones co-showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss previously revealed they enlisted Ed Sheeran as a surprise for Maisie Williams, who’s a big fan of his, but Jeremy says Ed fit right in.
“I think she was really happy to have him there, and they do have a lovely rapport,” he observes.
“But the great thing is he kind of deserved to be there, in a way, because he’s a lovely performer.
“The role required gifts that he has. And he looks right in the show; he fits into the fabric of the show. And he was very happy to just kind of be a part of the ensemble.”
“So Maisie obviously enjoyed working with him, but we all did,” the director continues.
“I think it was really lovely for everybody, for all the other Lannister soldiers who were sitting around spending the day with him, and for the crew. It was really, really nice.
“But it was also unexceptional, in a certain way. He didn’t bring any hoo-ha at all. He just brings himself and he’s very, as I said, eager to please and eager to do a good job. So it was a really lovely day actually.”
In fact, Jeremy argues that Ed fits in so naturally, you wouldn’t have even thought twice about the character if Ed weren’t such a star.
“It is a funny thing because I really, genuinely believe that if you didn’t know who he was, you would have just thought he was one of the gang, effortlessly. And for me, I myself don’t bring a lot of baggage to who he is, or anybody on the show.
“And the truth is, everybody on the show is famous now. [Laughs] So it’s like, it doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s about, are they appropriate for the role? Are they doing a good job? And it was yes, yes, yes to all those questions with him.
“For me, I’m actually a bit surprised that people have made that much fuss about it. Because he… I don’t know. To me, he does seem quite organic, in his own way, to the show.”
For his part, Ed would probably agree with Jeremy’s assessment that the role is “unexceptional” — he seems humble about the role.
“I just know the scene I did, I did with Maisie, and it’s decent,” he told Entertainment Tonight in June.
“I like it. Nothing exciting happens in this scene, we just have a conversation and that's kind of it.”
Now that Ed Sheeran’s cameo has come and gone, which A-lister will grace the show next?
We dare say the idea Sophie Turner proposed at the show’s SXSW panel this March would turn off fans even more.
“I’m still waiting on Bieber,” she said.
Game of Thrones Season 7 airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.