Game of Thrones: Major change to Joffrey Baratheon exposed from axed pilot

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Fans have discovered more about George R.R. Martin’s series of epic Game of Thrones novels in a new book exploring its journey from page to screen. Details about HBO’s original pilot episode have revealed Jack Gleeson’s iconic villain Joffrey Baratheon could have looked a lot different.


Entertainment Weekly editor James Hibberd’s new book, Fire Cannot Kill the Dragon, has unearthed new details about the development of HBO’s smash hit, Game of Thrones.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the popular fantasy drama came to an end last year after eight successful seasons.

Despite concluding with one of the most controversial final instalments in TV history, Game of Thrones remains one of the most talked about modern shows.

In Hibberd’s exposé, the editor traces the epic story of Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) from the very beginning.

Before HBO greenlit the first season, Game of Thrones started life with an original pilot which looked very different to what fans have come to know as the world of Westeros.

The first ever episode produced for the series still featured the marriage of Daenerys and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), though with some crucial differences.

For one, Daenerys was originally played by actress Tamzin Merchant before Emilia Clarke landed her breakout role.

Moreover, sadistic villain Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) rocked a completely different look before he made his official introduction to the series.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, producer Christopher Newman revealed: “Joffrey had a different haircut.”

Newman continued and implied some of the characters in Game of Thrones may have looked much more Shakespearean in the original draft.

He explained: “In the original pilot, it was more pageboy cut, slightly pudding bowl-ish, like Henry V.

“It wasn’t that it didn’t suit him being a little s**t, but it softened the edge. The modern cut in the version that aired gave him more spitefulness.”

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The medieval hairstyle sounds very familiar to anyone who caught Timothée Chalamet in the Netflix Original Henry V, based on Shakespeare’s historical plays.

Thankfully, the producers opted for a more contemporary look for many of the characters, including Joffrey.

Rather than the proposed bowl cut, Joffrey in the series opts for a short, boyish mop which helps accentuate his petulance and spitefulness.

As well as Gleeson’s deliciously smug performance as Joffrey, his iconic look helped cement the character as one of the most hated antagonists in television history.

Unfortunately, this was only one of many reported mistakes made on the set of the pilot, as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would attest.

Benioff confessed: “At first it seemed to us like it was going well, but that was because we didn’t know any better.”

And Weiss added: “As we went on, the cracks turned into bigger cracks, which turned into fissures. You started to feel the wheels coming off by the time we got to Morocco.”

Thankfully, the showrunners managed to pull it together when the series officially got underway, though many fans would still claim the project fell apart again in the later seasons.

Game of Thrones seasons 1-8 are available to stream on NowTV.

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