There is just no nice way to put this… The original and unaired Game of Thrones pilot episode was a complete and utter disaster.
The full video of the pilot episode has never been released to the public (I’ve heard whispers it has the power to burn your eyes right out of your sockets so maybe that’s a good thing), but Game of Thrones showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff have shared details of it over the years.
The pilot episode for the show, which was based on George R.R. Martin’s best selling A Song of Ice and Fire books, was so terribly received that it required extensive re-shoots, re-castings, and essentially forced the production team to construct an entirely new episode out of the ashes of this disastrous first attempt.
Some of the casting choices were perfected on the first go, with actors Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage being the first and only choices for the roles of Ned Stark and Tyrion Lannister. They were so perfect for the roles they didn’t even have to audition.
Other cast choices did not turn out so well.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Game of Thrones casting director Nina Gold said that two of the show’s original leading ladies were let go from the series following test screenings of the pilot.
The actresses were Jennifer Ehle, who is best known for her iconic role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice, and for Oscar-winning movies such as The King’s Speech and Zero Dark Thirty.
Jennifer was originally cast in the role of House Stark matriarch Catelyn Stark, but was later replaced in the role by Michelle Fairley. Her scenes never made it to air as Michelle’s scenes were looped in over her original appearances.