With Game of Thrones' eighth and final season on the way, it would be easy for fans of HBO's epic fantasy series to start getting bummed out about that proverbial winter finally coming for the series. However, the network knows well enough that it's got some molten gold on its head -- er, hands -- and gave the green light to at least one prequel series pilot (but there may be as many as four) that would explore a very, very ancient era of Westeros' history.
Here's a look at everything we know about the first Game of Thrones prequel series so far.
It'll travel way back in time. After HBO ordered a pilot for one of the quartet of pitched prequels, the network released an official logline that holds a few clues about the new-old journey, which will venture back thousands of years and shed light on some familiar subjects. "It chronicles the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros' history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend... it's not the story we think we know," the teaser reads.
That means fans will get to journey even further back into the Stark family's history than even Bran's time-hopping visions have so far allowed, and apparently there's even more to learn about how the White Walkers came to be. Legend has it that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to protect themselves from the First Men before the monsters got out of hand -- at which point they helped erect the Wall to protect Westeros -- but it sounds like the history scrolls and cave drawings might not tell the whole story.
Its title may tell us even more. A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin has confirmed that the title for the new series will be The Long Night, which may relate to an era oft-referenced throughout Game of Thrones -- by the Red Witch Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and Old Nan (Margaret John), in particular -- which took place during the Age of Heroes when winter came and cast a shadow of darkness across the world for a generation.
The cast is starting to come together. The first cast member to be announced for the potential series' pilot is none other than Naomi Watts, whose role is as-yet-unnamed but has been described as a compelling socialite with a dark secret. She was soon joined by Poldark star Josh Whitehouse for a "key role" that is not expected to be the male lead of the hopeful show.
In January, it was revealed that Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: Episode IX) will also take on a leading role, with Denise Gough (Guerrilla), Jamie Campbell Bower (The Crimes of Grindelwald, Mortal Instruments), Sheila Atim (Harlots), Toby Regbo (Reign), Alex Sharp (To the Bone), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans) rounding out the cast.
There'll be fresh blood behind the scenes. Game of Thrones' executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss are not going to be involved with this prequel, as they've been tied up with the main series' final season. Instead, it'll be Jane Goldman who runs the show if it's picked up to series, with Daniel Zelman (Bloodline) producing alongside current Game of Thrones producer Vince Gerardis.
It'll begin shooting in 2019. HBO president of programming Casey Bloys confirmed that the network aims to get cameras rolling on the pilot episode next year.
There might be more where this one came from: The script for the first Game of Thrones prequel pilot comes from Jane Goldman and Martin himself and was one of four submitted to the network for consideration. The others were written by Max Borenstein, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray and Martin, and would explore other eras of the fictional realm.
Martin has hinted that at least one of those could be based upon his ASoIF companion book Fire & Blood, which will include a few dragons as well as "all the Targaryen kings from Aegon I (the Conquerer) to the regency of Aegon III (the Dragonbane), along with their wives, wars, siblings, children, friends, rivals, laws, travels, and sundry other matters."
Other Links From TVGuide.com Game of ThronesNaomi WattsGeorge R.R. MartinJosh WhitehouseJane Goldman