If you think you’re a huge Game of Thrones fan, you need to see Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. The actors – who are married to one another – are in fact devotees of the highest caliber. And when the long-awaited final season made its debut in 2019, the duo got their friends together and had a truly epic viewing party. What’s more, they shared their pictures online so everyone could join in.
For its part, it’s safe to call Game of Thrones a pop culture phenomenon. And when the show began in 2011, it was an almost instant success. Based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, it tells a story of political machinations in the fictional land of Westeros. And the end goal for many characters is the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms.
For its part, Game of Thrones blends medieval politics with high fantasy. And among the show’s character reel there are three dragons, which are introduced as babies at the end of the first series and gradually grow into terrifying beasts. Furthermore, other magical beings, such as the Night King, gain prominence as the show goes on.
Meanwhile, Game of Thrones gained such a devoted fanbase over time that elements of it passed into popular culture. “Khaleesi,” which describes the title of the character Daenerys Targaryen, became popular as a girl’s name, as did the name “Arya.” And the phrase “Game of Thrones” itself became shorthand for describing political deceit and conflicts.
And it seems that everyone wants in on the Game of Thrones action. Indeed, the show is illegally downloaded so much that in 2015 Guinness World Records named the show “the most pirated television program.” But this didn’t hurt the series financially, because the franchise is just that huge.
Unsurprisingly many famous people love Game of Thrones, even some of the world’s biggest politicians. Apparently, the show can count none other than former U.S. President Barack Obama among its fans. Indeed, in 2013 the New York Times reported that Obama loved Game of Thrones, as well as the political thriller House of Cards.
And one-time Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even wrote an article for the Guardian in 2014 about how Game of Thrones paralleled with her political career. She wrote, “I first felt the addictive power of Game of Thrones when I was PM, living in a world where power was also pursued relentlessly, albeit far less colorfully. Certainly the characters of my world were nowhere near as good-looking or exotically dressed.”
“Drawn in, I binged on series one over three days on brief Christmas leave in 2012. I devoured the second and third as soon as I could,” Gillard continued. “Fiction and reality started to collide. Returning to my office after an aborted coup in March 2013, I was greeted with posters of sword fighting with the slogan, ‘What do we say to the god of death? Not today.’”
And outside the world of politics, Game of Thrones can count pop music extraordinaire Ed Sheeran among its fans. Indeed, the singer loves the show so much he managed to wrangle himself a cameo on it. And this was thanks in no small part to actor Maisie Williams, aka Arya Stark, being a big fan of his. His appearance met with an unfortunate amount of backlash – but at least he can say now that he’s been on Game of Thrones.
And it isn’t just Sheeran that’s a huge fan of Game of Thrones. Big names such as Kerry Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Sofía Vergara, and former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron have all revealed that they watch and love the show. And yet Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard just might have everyone beat.
Indeed, Bell is a bona fide Game of Thrones superfan, and first revealed her obsession back in 2013. A fan tweeted her, “Do you have a favourite show on TV at the moment?” Bell answered, “Yes! Game of Thrones… whoa. I am so obsessed at the moment I dream almost exclusively of the characters.”
And Bell’s love for the show didn’t end there. Indeed, that same year, she attended The Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actress Roundtable, and revealed she was binge-watching Game of Thrones. She enthusiastically announced, “I want to wear one of those cloaks, have the dragon baby. You can even go online and see where Winterfell is in relation to Westeros.”
Then in October 2013 Bell and Shepard did Halloween dressed as Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen, even though Khal Drogo was dead in the show by that point. Part of the reason, Bell told HuffPost Entertainment, was to please her husband. She said, “It’s mainly revolving around the fact that [Shepard] wants to be something shirtless, so Drogo is his main pick.”
Meanwhile, Bell wanted to include her daughter Lincoln and her pets as well. Bell told HuffPost Entertainment, “I think Khaleesi’s dragons are going to be Lincoln and my two dogs. We’re going to go dragon, dragon, dragon. Then the whole family is involved! That’s what we’re leaning towards.”
In fact, Bell and Shepard’s daughter Lincoln has learned to love Game of Thrones too, although she’s probably too young to understand it. Bell declared to Jimmy Kimmel in March 2016, “One of the first phrases I taught my kid to say was, ‘Winter is coming.’ She used to run around before she knew what it meant, and she would say, ‘Winter coming! Winter coming!’”
Meanwhile, Bell doesn’t bring out her Game of Thrones costumes just for Halloween, she has even dressed up to watch the episodes as well. In 2015 she held a viewing party and dressed up as Lady Tyrell, alongside her friends dressed up as other characters. But it all ended in tears when Jon Snow appeared to die.
Bell started the night happily tweeting a picture of her adorable dog awaiting the episode. She wrote, “Guys, my dog has greyscale. Do NOT tell the lord of light.” But by the end of the night she, along with no doubt many other fans, was shocked by the episode’s revelation, writing, “HOW. DARE. THEY.” But it was all fine – Jon Snow was back the following season.
Bell then got an exciting opportunity in 2016, after being cast in a movie alongside Peter Dinklage. Thrones devotees know him as Tyrion Lannister, and he is one of the most popular characters in the whole franchise. Indeed, Dinklage has won three Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the character.
The movie Bell starred in was comedy flick The Boss, and both she and her co-star Melissa McCarthy were utterly starstruck by Peter Dinklage when all three of them were on set. They also repeatedly hummed the Game of Thrones theme song at him to hide their nerves, and, luckily, he took it fairly well.
Indeed, Bell’s fannish behavior was another matter. McCarthy revealed on Live! With Kelly and Michael in April 2016, “Kristen Bell is truly too much. Her questioning of Game of Thrones, her weird knowledge of backstories… She’s like, ‘Well, so and so said on April 17…’ She was asking him stuff and he was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about anymore. I’ve never gone that deep [into the story]!’”
At around that same time, Bell and Shepherd attended the April 2016 premiere of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, and it’s safe to say Bell enjoyed herself. She observed with glee at the time on her Instagram, “Everyone was in suits and dresses. People were sipping cocktails. We were in tank tops that said, ‘Stark in the streets, Wildling in the sheets.’”
Bell continued, “We sported temporary tattoos that said ‘Ours Is The Fury’ and ‘Winter Is Coming.’ At one point I lifted a cantaloupe in the air and said ‘this egg shall change history’ and ran out the fire exit.” It sounded like an epic event – but even then, she hadn’t yet reached peak Game of Thrones fandom.
Meanwhile, season seven of Game of Thrones premiered in July 2017, and Bell threw another party. This one included snacks – namely “dragon eggs” and “wilding wings.” But the actress along with her husband Shepard did something else pretty spectacular to mark the occasion. They brought out their costumes again and made a music video.
In the YouTube video posted in July 2017, Bell and Shepard strummed along to the Game of Thrones intro while dressed as the show’s iconic characters: Cersei, Jaime, Daenerys and Jon Snow among others. At the end, Bell-as-Daenerys began enthusiastically kissing Shepard-as-Jon – and that was before those characters ever got together in the show.
“Anyone else imagining that this was not shot in a studio but they have a green screen room at home with a ton of props and there are A LOT more videos like this that will never see the light of day? Just me? Okay,” wrote one commenter on the YouTube video. And another said, “Can’t wait to see how you two will top it next season.”
The next Game of Thrones season then aired in April 2019 after a one-year break, and Bell and Shepard sought to exceed all expectations with their celebration. They held a big screening party with their friends, including Ryan Hansen of Bell’s show Veronica Mars, and everyone got dressed up for the occasion.
Attending the screening were Melisandre, Arya, The Hound and more, thanks to Bell’s devoted and impressively costumed friends. Ryan Hansen dressed as the ill-fated Robb Stark, and his wife Amy came as the even more ill-fated Talisa. And as for Shepard, he became Bran Stark, complete with Warg effect.
Bell’s costume might have been the most impressive one of all, though. She decided to portray Viseron, one of Queen Daenerys’ dragons and a sadly departed one. At the end of season seven, the Night King kills Viseron and the latter is brought back to life as an ice dragon. But Bell must have decided the ice aesthetic was a good one.
Meanwhile, Bell had on an impressive dragon bodysuit, complete with wings and a tail. She even gave herself Viserion’s ice-blue eyes by wearing contacts. And – possibly to make it obvious which dragon she was, or maybe just because it was funny – she taped a little action figure of the Night King to her back.
Bell tagged her Instagram slideshow: “Maximum effort on #GOT night. For the throne!” And it appeared someone had put maximum effort into the snacks as well. Available at the party included dishes like “Dragon’s Slop,” “Hodoritos” and one particular food called “Arya’s House of Frey Pot Pies.” Indeed, true Throneheads will know what that one refers to.
Fans loved the amount of effort Bell and Shepard had put in. One Instagram user wrote, “Oh my goodness. The little night king on your back is amazing! And [Shepard’s] eyes in the first pic! Seriously, so good.” Meanwhile, another posted, “I’m bending the knee to you right now for this epic party.”
For his part, Bell’s husband Shepard discussed the party with Jimmy Kimmel when he appeared on his show in April 2019. He said, “My wife plans all the costumes. She handles all of that. She said to me, ‘Hey, Sunday you’re in a wheelchair.’ And then she started moving about the area and I go, ‘What do you mean I’m in a wheelchair on Sunday?’ She’s like, ‘Costume mandatory. You’re the three-eyed raven, you’re Bran, so you’ll be in a wheelchair.’”
However, for the party, Shepard didn’t exactly behave like Bran Stark – he used the wheelchair to perform tricks instead. The actor told Kimmel, “This whole thing backfired on her because I’m supposed to just be [still], but no! I’m in the kitchen doing wheelies and then I’m spinning… I’m putting on a real show. And it got away from her and I.”
Kimmel asked Shepard if he’d enjoyed the party and the premiere, and the latter responded, “It was a really fun party. And I believe a good episode.” In fact the season opener, titled Winterfell, pulled in over 17 million viewers overall. And critics gave it good reviews, with Forbes calling it “a return to greatness.”
As for Bell, she couldn’t resist wearing her dragon costume to work the next day. Currently, she’s starring in the TV series The Good Place, and she posted a video of her on set still clad in wings and scales. She wrote on Instagram, “A #GoodPlace morning: Keeping the THRONE ALIVE at 6 a.m. the morning after!”
Meanwhile, episode three of season eight, The Long Night, became the most watched episode of the final series. That episode saw the Night King finally coming to Winterfell, and it promised to be an epic, heart-stopping battle. And Bell and Shepard threw a get-together for that one as well.
Bell posted a picture to her Instagram in April 2019 of herself, Shepard, and their friends gathered round a table, wearing black and looking sombre. After all, Game of Thrones is famous for killing off important characters, so the atmosphere was an appropriate one. The actress wrote, “Dressed tonight for everyone’s funeral.”
In the end, though, the episode wasn’t the bloodbath some fans had been expecting. Only Theon, Jorah, Lyanna, Melisandre, Edd, Beric and Viserion – oh, and the Night King himself – died or appeared to die. The others will presumably conclude their own stories in the last few episodes of the season.
Meanwhile, Bell and Shepard may have a few more opportunities to don black or dress up as a dearly departed character. The Long Night was the third episode of season eight, which means there are three more left to go now. Characters such as Daenerys, Jon, Bran and Arya may come out alive, or they may not.
If they don’t, alas, then Bell might be in for a bad time. Indeed, in 2018 Shepard uploaded a video of his wife crying over the show’s most shocking scene, the Red Wedding. In that episode, several of the show’s most beloved characters, including Robb and Catelyn Stark, are ruthlessly killed. And poor Bell had the same reaction many Thrones fans had: tears.
However, even if the final Game of Thrones season does end in death, it’s not necessarily the end of the story. One prequel series is already in the works at HBO, with the possibility of at least three others to come. So Bell and Shepard may need to keep hold of those spectacular costumes for the future.