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My Night With Sibel

The lovely and talented SIBEL KEKILLI -- best known to all you GAME OF THRONES fans out there for her amazing portrayal of Shae -- came to Santa Fe last December.  We celebrated her visit by screening HEAD ON, the breakthrough German film that gave Sibel her first starring role and won her the Lola (the German Oscar) for Best Actress, but that was not the main purpose of her visit.  She was here to film a segment of a popular German travel show DURCH DIE NACHT (roughly, INTO THE NIGHT), for the French/ German TV network ARTE.

The premise is the show is that each week, a celebrity visits some place they have never been before, and a local shows them the town, with an emphasis on the nightlfife.  Sibel asked me to show her Santa Fe, and I was delighted to say yes ( though I did warn her that Santa Fe, for all its charms, does tend to roll up the sidewalks at 9:00 pm or so).    So after a rather adventurous series of flight, and a six-hour drive through the night with a stranger in a car full of fish, Sibel made it to the Land of Enchantment, and I had the honor of playing her host.  We took in my own lair, a local gallery, a comic book shop, two restaurants, two bars, and of course the Jean Cocteau.  (With a film crew trailing us everywhere we went).

I had a great time.  Got to introduce Sibel to margaritas and chile con queso, two of my favorite things.  All in all, she seemed to enjoy the experience.  And driving around through the night, we talked about all manner of things, which was fun as well.

The segment has now been edited and broadcast.  For those of you not in France and Germany who did not get to see it, here you go:

I've met some wonderful people through GAME OF THRONES, and Sibel is one of them.  What an amazing, talented, courageous young woman.   And yes, I confess it: her Shae was better than my Shae.

Oh, and by the way, here's that song I had them sing for Sibel -- Istanbul, Not Constantinople, by the Four Lads.


Mar. 26th, 2015 08:43 pm (UTC)
You can not compare them in earnest
D&D changed the character. Presumably because an opportunist prostitute is not good for TV.

Whatever the case maybe, she did well with the script she had. No doubt about it.
Jake Radford
Mar. 26th, 2015 08:47 pm (UTC)
Dragons with two legs
Loved the bit about you wanting your dragons to be as anatomically correct as possible. I think technically, they'd be Wyverns, but I'm not sure that's nearly as foreboding. "The Wyvern has three heads."

Obviously you've done a fantastic job with all your characters in the books, but are there any others that you feel the TV show might have done better than you had at the time?
Mar. 26th, 2015 08:51 pm (UTC)
TV can be great outside of HBO... ;-)
dear george,

thank you for that great segment with sibel!
I enjoyed it a lot and had to laugh wholeheartedly many times...

just as you wrote, sibel is an amazing person and actress. I kept following her career since "gegen die wand/head on" because she grew up in the next big city from where I live now (heilbronn, germany).

maybe you could do a second segment with her, this time in istanbul (not constantinople!)?! ;-)

thank you also for posting this youtube link which I just shared with an italian friend who is also a huge GoT fan and had been very sad to realize that the video posted at the "arte" site did not work for her... I guess this now made her day...

best regards from germany,
Mar. 26th, 2015 08:51 pm (UTC)
Indian Adaptation of 'Game of Thrones'
Hey George! I was wondering if you have heard of the Indian version of Game of Thrones that is in the works. If so, what do you think about it? Thanks!
Mar. 26th, 2015 09:10 pm (UTC)
Endearing video

This was thoroughly entertaining. It made me laugh, and in few moments it almost brought me to tears. It's really great to see people meet in rather unusual circumstances and get along so well :)

Thank you!

P.S. I admit that I am writing this comment whilst I'm only at minute ~42 of the video.
Mar. 26th, 2015 09:57 pm (UTC)
You mentioned in the video that HBO owns the rights to toys which look like characters from the show, but do you still own the rights to licensed toys based on the books?
Mar. 26th, 2015 10:03 pm (UTC)
Pre-existing deals were grandfathered in.
Mar. 26th, 2015 10:08 pm (UTC)
I see, so any new deals for ASOIAF licensed products must be produced under the Game of Thrones brand? I assume this means the only products based on the books left are the games by Fantasy Flight and Valyrian Steel replicas?
Mar. 26th, 2015 11:50 pm (UTC)
Not at all. There's Fantasy Flight Games, Valyrian Steel... and also Dark Sword Miniatures, Green Ronin Games, Shire Post Mint, Mystic Spiral t-shirts, there's the comic books, and there's probably other stuff I am forgetting.
Mar. 26th, 2015 10:02 pm (UTC)
I have to say, your tour guide skills impressed me ! Santa Fe seems like a fascinating city, especially when you tell the anecdotes about all the different places.

Sibel Kekilli is a very talented actress. I knew her before Game of Thrones for her role in "When We Leave", an excellent movie that stuck with me for a while (you can imagine my surprise when I saw she was in Game of Thrones). She also seems to be an intelligent and really nice person. I envy the people who got to meet and take pictures with both of you at the same time !
Mar. 26th, 2015 10:45 pm (UTC)
fascinating city tour :)
Dear George,
it was really amazing to watch this segment with Sibel Kekilli and you. She has such a powerful presence as an actress, I hope that Fatih Akin and she will work on a movie again. Currently she´s playing an investigator with epilepsy in Germany´s longest running crime show "Tatort", and it´s always great to watch an episode with her in it.
I very much enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Santa Fe. I had not realized until now what an interesting and culturally rich town this is - even if it can´t beat Constan... eh...Istanbul. :)
Lots of greetings from Norway,
Mar. 27th, 2015 03:56 am (UTC)
I was very dubious about TV Show Shae in Season 1. I kept thinking, "Man, this Shae is awfully bossy and confrontational for someone who is being paid precisely to ease her client's troubles. Is there a genuine market out there for prostitutes who get paid big money to treat you like a henpecked husband?"

I mean, everybody has a fetish, but I never picked out Shae as a dom and Tyrion as a sub.

I definitely warmed up to her over the series, though, and by the end I agree, I definitely liked her more than Book Shae.

On a very slightly off topic note, that chair I see you being interviewed in is awesome and I want it. Every time I see it, I think "Man, that chair looks comfortable."

Edited at 2015-03-27 04:42 am (UTC)
Rock Strongo
Mar. 27th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC)
oh man
George asks Sibel if she plays tabletop games. I'm going to assume he asked rhetorically, because the obvious answer is no. I've never walked into the dank backroom of a comic book store or fantasy store where people were playing magic or something that didn't also smell like a locker room.
Mar. 27th, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
In your video I found it fascinating that you said your world was 5 blocks growing up. Do you often go back to Bayonne New Jersey and visit your old 5 blocks? Have those 5 blocks changed much since those days?
Mar. 27th, 2015 07:45 am (UTC)

I really love Sibel. When I was in school we watched and analysed "Gegen die Wand" or "Head-On" in ethics class. I was so thrilled when she got cast on GoT and all the people I talked to didn't know why I reacted that way.

It's unfortunately still seldom that an actor from my country gets public acclaim elsewhere, but I'm glad that Sibel did.

All the greetings from Germany

Edited at 2015-03-27 07:56 am (UTC)
Mar. 27th, 2015 07:47 am (UTC)
I loved the film and your collection! It's incredible!
Bernhard Vienna
Mar. 27th, 2015 09:48 am (UTC)
That was just great! She has such a presence.

and what a great toy collection! Please do a TV show where you tell stories just with those figures. People could watch how you come up with stories. You don't need all those special effects. The stories are enough.
Mar. 27th, 2015 12:06 pm (UTC)
Nice show and really lovely dioramas - you could make a full photography book out of them ! :-)
Mar. 27th, 2015 01:05 pm (UTC)
I swear, chile con queso is the greatest thing on earth. Not just for generic chip-dipping either. You can pour that stuff on rice, on beans, in tacos, over a burrito....the possibilities are endless. I would be curious to try what you consider "the best" queso in Sante Fe sometimes.
Mar. 27th, 2015 02:17 pm (UTC)
King's Landing
As an Istanbullu, I refuse to believe King's Landing is not based on Constantinople. There are too many historical similarities
Mar. 27th, 2015 03:44 pm (UTC)
What a great show. It looked like you and Sibel were genuinely having a good time, even if she discovered that 'spicy' means one thing in Santa Fe and a totally different thing in Turkish cuisine. Hopefully sometime when you are in Europe she can show you her food - it is one of the great haute cuisines (Ottomans were rich for a long time and occupied a wide swath) on Earth, and underexposed in the US.

The best part was Melinda's cameo.

Steven Sidore
Mar. 27th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
Snow in Sante Fe
Sibel is well known here in Germany of course -- as Bernhard said above, she is currently one of the detectives on "Tatort," which a bit like LAW AND ORDER has been on forever and still gets watched. Germany's relationship with people of Turkish descent is quite complicated -- not unlike white Americans and Mexican immigrants -- but she has made the jump very well from porn starlet to a very well respected actress. Nice to see her enjoying herself, and you enjoying her company as well.

I was just fascinated with the fact that Santa Fe has snow... I've been there several times, including back when there were more art galleries than burger joints, but always in summer or fall. I though you had to go higher in the High Desert to get snow. Or was that an unusual occurrence?
Mar. 27th, 2015 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Snow in Sante Fe
Not at all unusual.

Santa Fe is at 7000 feet. Two thousand feet above Denver's "mile high city." Yet for some reason people seem to think we are more like Phoenix. Not so. New Mexico is not Arizona.
Jason Kenney
Mar. 30th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Snow in Sante Fe
How bad are the winters compared to say New England?
Mar. 27th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
I loved this
I've watched a lot of interviews, convention appearances, and Q&A's (and whatever else) with you, but this could end up as my favorite. You two were having so much fun and I along with you. Very sweet and now makes me want to go eat and drink in New Mexico (well, more than I already did).
Mar. 27th, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
Tyrion is comming
GRRM, Didn't you fear that suddenly appeared Tyrion with a crossbow in the middle of dinner?
Mar. 27th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
Tabletop games in Germany
It is too bad that nobody that was playing Die Siedler von Catan or Carcassonne or some other of the German games that tabletop gamers play; winners of the Spiel des Jahres. Even if she didn't play, she'd almost certainly have heard of them.
Trond Jansen
Mar. 27th, 2015 06:19 pm (UTC)
I kind of hoped to see some nopales dishes on the tour. For some reason eating cactus fascinated me.

From an article about both Turkey and Game of Thrones a few months back:

"Four military officers were discharged from the army after they let their students watch “Game of Thrones” at a military school in Istanbul in 2012.

"The new regulations also lay ground for the introduction of elective classes on Islam in military schools for the first time. The new classes will be based on “basic religious education, the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.”

With all the oil paintings, it would be interesting to know if there once was or still is one of Carl Barks.

And about dragons being more realistic with four limbs rather than six. I noticed in the TV-series that they have more than five fingers. Does this annoys you? It made me think that the main difference between fantasy for children and adolescents and more mature fantasy (and horror and science fiction for that matter) is that everything expect the fantasy elements should be as realistic as possible. Then again, we wouldn't have True Blood. If such vampires were possible people would probably line up to be transformed into one. They would think that hiding from the sun and drinking blood would be a small prize to pay for being healthy, fast, strong, immortal and young forever, depending on when you were turned. And you would no longer find blood disgusting. And all the things they could do with their glamming. If someone like Varys had a similar ability, he would be the most powerful man in Westeros. So I didn't feel the vampires used their full potential. But so far I have not noticed anything in Game of Thrones where I was thinking; "People would never have acted like that in real life".

Edit: I didn't read your latest blog post about off topic comments before after I had posted this one. Hope it wasn't too off topic.

Edited at 2015-03-27 06:28 pm (UTC)
Edward MacWhirter
Mar. 28th, 2015 12:24 am (UTC)
Thanks George I'd never heard that song before and I love it for capturing the city's romance. Surely one of the best cities in the world, with a fantastic history of intrigue and scheming to rival King's Landing. Poor old Justinian II even had his nose chopped off (and worse) and later replaced it with one made of gold. Who says history is boring?
Mar. 28th, 2015 02:27 am (UTC)
Haha this was awesome. How do I get one of those medieval window-like decorations that you have on your wall? The one with the Direwolf? Did you order it somewhere or what?
Mar. 28th, 2015 05:27 am (UTC)
What a great little piece! Santa Fe has been on my mom's radar for awhile, so it was nice to learn more about it. I'd love to take her there sometime.
Mar. 28th, 2015 08:08 am (UTC)
Cowboys and Indians
Sibel seems so down to earth, I'm glad you shared this with us.

And that antidote about the Indian was great.
Mar. 28th, 2015 12:57 pm (UTC)
Night in Santa Fe
I was glued to this entire video. Two things I've learned (always good to take something away), the first being that if a dragon can be scientifically accurate (oxymoron?) then it would have two legs. The second I drew from the comments. Since when is Santa Fe so high up?

Anyway, thanks for the video. 'Twas cool to see.
Mar. 28th, 2015 03:29 pm (UTC)
If I'm ever lucky enough to visit Santa Fe it would be a crime not to try the cuisine (especially the margaritas)! This episode is like Mexican food porn.

Sibil is amazing and it's good to see the two of you having a great time. And I love your miniatures, George! Don't ever lose your youthful spirit.
Mar. 31st, 2015 05:40 am (UTC)
What a delightful visit & good conversations you seem to have had!
Apr. 1st, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC)
Considering scientifically accurate dragons...
Thanks for the link! Hope it stays up, since Germany has some mind-numbing regulations regarding material form public broadcasters (geofences, 'de-publishing' after 14 days). Don't know about France, though - and arte is a French--German joint venture.

However, I had to go though the stupid registration process for yet another internet service to leave you a link to a just-published scientific paper in the current issue of 'Nature'.

For all of you who are concerned about scientifically accurate dragons: read this.

Hamilton, A.J., May, R.M. et Waters, E.K. (2015). Here be dragons. Nature 520: 42–43. doi:10.1038/520042a

Apr. 4th, 2015 06:23 am (UTC)
I'm such a big fan. I think your writing is amazing. I'd give an arm and a leg to be able to write like you.
I live in New Mexico, too. I'm an atheist but I was born muslim. I've been to Istanbul, and I like secularism there. I dislike Adrugan and what he think he's doing to Turkey, yet it hurt when Sibel said that violence is in Islam's culture and you said SURE. As a person who has studied history as much as you have I think you know that violence is not restricted to Islam and Muslims and that Muslims don't even make to the top ten violent acts or violent people in the history. Unfortunately, there are violent people who are muslim and I promise you, their presence hurts other muslims all over the world more than anyone else. I don't find it fair for someone to hear that their favorite author also calls their culture violent, too.

Edited at 2015-04-04 08:08 pm (UTC)
Apr. 6th, 2015 06:53 pm (UTC)
Sibel can speak to this with far more authority than I can... and, indeed, she has. Her comments have brought down a lot of hate on her, however, including threats of violence that rather prove her point.

In any case, I don't think either she or I suggested that violence was exclusive to Islam, or at Muslims were in any sort of "top ten" of violence in human history.
Apr. 4th, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for sharing that. Both your vision of Santa Fe and your miniatures. I've known for years that you collected them, but never pictured that at all.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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