It was just another weekend in the small town of Osuna, in the province of Sevilla, in the autonomous community of Andalucía, in the country of Spain. Osuna, Spain: a town of about 18,000 people; a pueblo blanco, or white town; one of the biggest bull rings in Spain; and a couple famous movie stars. Not so normal after all, I guess.
Andalucía has a wonderful open expanse of countryside and mountains perfect for filming movies because of how spread out every town is and with such gorgeous scenery. Osuna is in the middle to eastern part of the province of Seville, about a half hour north of the Sierra de Cádiz (the mountain range that runs through my little town of Olvera). It’s about an hour north of Olvera. Of course, when something big like the filming of Game Of Thrones comes to town, people always find out about it. I heard about the excitement in my school, that the show was filming in Sevilla. Unfortunately, by the time I had a day off, they would have moved on to the small town of Osuna, which was closer to Olvera but harder to get to without a car.
Getting to Osuna proved to be challenging. James and I had already planned to travel by bus to Cádiz that Thursday night to pick up our visas Friday morning, then take a bus back to Olvera Friday afternoon. Well, we kept our trip to Cádiz as planned, but changed the destination. All trains to Osuna from Cádiz that day were full until 6:00pm, so we opted for the longer bus ride. After hours and hours of searching for a hotel with availability, we finally came across one with an open room at a reasonable rate (would you believe some rooms in some hotels were listed at 800€ a night?) When we arrived, it turned out some of the lesser movie staff was also staying there (hair and makeup, stunt doubles, etc.)! That was a promising start. We arrived late Friday night and didn’t expect too much, so we dropped our stuff in the room and headed out to see what Osuna was all about. First stop, the bull ring. It was closed off and a few people with name tags were around, but other than that it looked empty. Not surprising at 7:00pm on a Friday night. So we walked around the local shops, down the main street, and finally chose a restaurant to eat at. After dinner, we were walking home when we were stopped by a large crowd blocking the street and police directing traffic. It looked like we walked right into a Game Of Thrones party!
Sleuths that we are, we noticed everyone standing outside was local Spanish, and the only people speaking English were the Game Of Thrones cast and crew. Plus one for us! Next, the guard was Spanish and was keeping out anyone who didn’t look like they belonged, but no identification was necessary to enter. A plan was starting to form in our minds. What happens when two English-speakers walk confidently into a Game Of Thrones party like they belong there? The guard steps aside, no questions asked, and let’s you into the private open bar birthday party of Emilia Clarke, aka Daenarys Stormborn.
At first, being on the early side, everyone was keeping to their own groups of friends and not being as social as when a lot of alcohol is involved. Fast forward an hour and the alcohol starts flowing more freely and people start chatting with their neighbors. We met one of the catering crew who filled us in on basically what we already knew, that it was an open bar private party. From there, we spotted fellow New Jerseyan Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) talking to another man we didn’t know. We decided it was time to tell Peter we were basically neighbors, being from the same state and all. He was deep in conversation with someone else at the time, so we befriended the other man, David, for the time being. David was very easy to talk to, funny, and another local East-coaster born and raised (although now lives in California). At this point the music started getting quiet because David’s phone, which was hooked up to the speakers, had died and he couldn’t find more good music to put on. He called over his friend Danny to hook up his phone, and introduced us to Danny. Danny was another American from Chicago who now also lived in LA. We had just met the only other two Americans in the bar. Here was where our cover got blown. As the cast and crew of Game Of Thrones is all British, Irish, or Scottish, these other Americans wondered how we were related to the show. They seemed harmless, so we confessed that we weren’t related to the show. They laughed it off and we all kept hanging out.
Eventually, we introduced ourselves to Peter Dinklage. James had a long conversation with him and Peter was incredibly surprised to find two other people from New Jersey in the same private party as him, in a small out-of-the-way town in Southern Spain. What are the odds! While James was talking to Peter, David was telling me about Emilia Clarke’s birthday party and how the cake was going to come out soon. Then he brought Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei, over to chat. How adorable that she brought her mother to the party. What a proud parent!
At this point, the beer was flowing like wine and we were all a little buzzed. James was still bonding with Peter, while I was nearby with David and Danny. David had just come back with a very large cup of something alcoholic and Danny looked at his small glass. I told him he must not be able to handle the big cups and dared him to go get a bigger one. He came back with a 3 foot tall beer. It was the funniest part of the night!
Soon it was time for the birthday cake to come out. We all sang happy birthday and passed cake around. We were making new friends left and right. James met his namesake in Spanish, Jaime. James is in Spain as an English teacher, and Jaime was in America as a Spanish teacher. Two peas in a pod! We discovered Jaime does all the pyrotechnics for the show – dragonfire galore! We also met the visual effects supervisor, Jabbar, who won an Emmy for his work on Game Of Thrones. He started giving us pointers on who everyone was. It turns out, our new friends David and Danny were just the two writers and producers of the show, David Benioff (married to a very pregnant Amanda Peet) and D.B. Weiss; they are two of the three people in the world who know what is going to happen in the show. If we had known who they were from the beginning, we probably wouldn’t have told them we snuck into their private open bar birthday party, told them they were bad dj’s for having the music run out, or dared them to get bigger beers. Either way, they were good sports and very comfortable to talk to.
Around 3:00am, we decided it was getting much too late and we had to get going. We said our goodbyes to our new friends and headed back to the hotel. The next day we spent wandering around the town, shopping, and grabbing tapas. Since it was a small town and there were a lot of cast and crew, we couldn’t go anywhere without bumping into new friends from the night before. It was a wonderful feeling to know so many people (and English speakers) in a foreign town!
Saturday night was calmer, and Sunday we headed out. Luckily, it was daylight savings time so we got an extra hour to grab breakfast in front of the bull ring before heading out. There was a crowd in front of the bull ring so we knew they were filming right behind us as we ate. James’s counterpart Jaime sent us some pictures of his fire handiwork and even came out to say bye to James before we caught our train home. It was a wonderful weekend full of good memories and new friends.
Moral of the story: go with confidence and you can get anything!
For another Osuna and Game of Thrones story from a fellow auxiliar and some really wonderful pictures of the beautiful village, check out Kim-Ling’s blog, travel-ling.com.