Oscar nominee Naomi Watts has landed an enormous small-screen role: The English actor will star in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel from creators Jane Goldman and George R.R. Martin. The as-of-yet-untitled fantasy-drama was picked up to pilot in June.
Though the name of Watts’ character has not yet been revealed, THR describes her as “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret.” Knowing the world of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, we can only imagine her character is of royal standing—after all, the average resident of Westeros is far more concerned with surviving than socializing.
This Game of Thrones prequel, one of several potential spinoffs of the epic fantasy juggernaut that HBO is considering, is set thousands of years before the events of the central series, chronicling the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. The pay-cable channel’s logline teases, “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 prequel pilot is based on a story by Goldman and Martin, with showrunner Goldman earning teleplay credit. Goldman and Martin will executive produce the series alongside Game of Thrones alum Vince Gerardis, Bloodline and Damages co-creator Daniel Zelman, and Jim Danger Gray, with Chris Symes as a co-executive producer.
HBO programming president Casey Bloys has previously said that any Game of Thrones spinoffs given the green light would not air until at least a year after the original series’ grand finale, coming sometime in 2019.
Watts, like Sean Bean before her, gives the Game of Thrones prequel a steady presence at its center. (With that parallel in mind, perhaps we shouldn’t get too attached to her character.) Oscar-nominated for her performances in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s 21 Grams and J.A. Bayona’s The Impossible, Watts most recently appeared in David Lynch’s surreal TV revival Twin Peaks: The Return and Claire McCarthy’s Shakespeare reimagining Ophelia.