Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for Game of Thrones’ season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone.”
Speaking to Newsweek, Jeremy Podeswa complemented Sheeran’s performance and called him “a lovely actor and a lovely person.”
“He was appropriate for the part because he needed to sing,” Podeswa said. “If people didn’t know who Ed was, they wouldn’t have thought about it twice. The hoo-ha seems to be from things that are outside of the world of the show. In the world of the show he did a lovely job, and he looks like he belongs in that world.”
The strong reaction to Sheeran’s appearance surprised Podeswa.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss first announced Sheeran’s cameo at SXSW in March, revealing they cast Sheeran as a surprise for Maisie Williams (who ended up appearing in his scene). Fans didn’t seem to expect to see Sheeran, who played a Lannister soldier and performed the song “Hands of Gold,” so soon.
Podeswa also explained to the Daily Beast that he meant the scene to be one of Game of Thrones’ “grace notes”—a character moment rather than a plot-driven scene. And the scene does surprise. After poisoning dozens of Freys, you’d expect Arya Stark to kill the Lannister soldiers she stumbles on, including the one who sang a lovely song. (Even Sheeran assumed that his character wouldn’t make it.) Instead, they share a conversation, and Arya gets some much-needed insight into the lives of common men amid the upheaval in deteriorating King’s Landing.
Even with Sheeran’s star power, he fit right in with the rest of the cast behind the scenes.
“He really just wanted to do a great job,” Podeswa explained. “He’s been acting for a little while; he takes it very seriously. And he was a real trouper, too. We were shooting in the middle of nowhere in Northern Ireland. He sat around outside with the cast and crew all day long, and just kind of hung out and was good-humored and lovely. He took direction well. He really could not have been nicer.”