Game of Thrones Theory: Naomi Watts Is Playing The FIRST Lannister

Production is well underway on HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, The Long Night, and Naomi Watts has been cast as the female lead - and it's theoretically possible that she could be playing the first Lannister. While next to nothing is known of her role aside from HBO’s cryptic description of her being a charismatic socialite, the lack of specificity allows room for speculation that she could be tied to one of the oldest and most powerful houses in Westeros.

What has now been officially titled The Long Night is set more than 8000 years before the events of the flagship series, during the Age of Heroes. This period in Westerosi history took place after the arrival of the First Men and their subsequent conflict with the Children of the Forest. According to show canon, the Long Night occurred as a result of the Children creating the first White Walkers in an attempt to mold soldiers that could defeat the men attacking them. As fans know, the Walkers eventually rose up against both men and Children of the Forest, and they both fought the first White Walker army back. Subsequently, Stark ancestors built the Wall to act as a barrier against any further attacks.

Related: First Look at Game of Thrones Season 8

Book canon aligns roughly with the show aside from the fact that there are far less specifics known about the creation of the White Walkers, and the Long Night comes 2000 years after the First Men and the Children of the Forest ended their conflict. The show doesn’t specify if the White Walkers rose up during the war between the two factions or after as it does in the A Song of Ice and Fire canon, but for all intents and purposes, the Long Night happens during the Age of Heroes - and that brings us to the Lannisters.

Lann The Clever/Casterly Rock

The Age of Heroes serves as the basis for much of Westerosi folklore and mythology, and many of the great houses of Westeros trace their roots back to prominent figures from these stories. Bran the Builder of House Stark is responsible for constructing Winterfell and the Wall, Garth Greenhand spawned the first kings of the Reach and was said to have taught men how to farm, Durran Godsgrief was the first Storm King and supposed builder of Storm’s End, and, finally, Lann the Clever founded the Lannister dynasty and was the first ruler of Casterly Rock.

Casterly Rock is named for the Casterly family who built the castle by carving it out of a coastal bluff as they mined the gold within it. Legend has it they were swindled out of their seat by Lann, a notorious trickster to whom Tyrion is often paralleled. There are several variations to the story of how Lann managed to winkle the Rock out from under Casterly control, but they all share a common thread of discord through deception which eventually allows Lann to wrest control of the house from the Casterly’s indirectly. Most involve him slipping into the castle through secret openings and causing trouble between the Casterlys through various means. These have included whispering rumors into their sleeping ears and rattling around pretending to be a ghost, terrifying everyone into chaos.

Is Naomi Watts Lady Casterly?

But probably the most notorious versions are romantic, one of which sees him as a guard who impregnates a Lannister daughter and manages to snag her hand in marriage. This kind of intrigue surrounding sex, love, and their intersection with power pops up all over the place in Martin's work and has played a huge role in steering events in the series; from Robb and Talisa to Cersei and Jaime (and Lancel and Euron) to Lysa and Littlefinger, and even to Jon and Daenerys - among the upper classes, romance is inescapably political. It's well within the realm of possibility that Lann the Clever managed to secure Casterly Rock through a very strategic marriage or affair with a prominent Casterly woman - perhaps the Casterly woman.

Related: Theory: The Long Night Will Tell Azor Ahai's Story

If the Lannisters' origin story and the history behind how they acquired their power makes for one of the major storylines in The Long Night, a “socialite with a dark secret to keep” could be a woman working against the interests of her family. Given the amount of variation surrounding Lann’s origin story, it’s not a huge leap to speculate that Naomi Watts could be a Casterly involved with Lann. Perhaps a member of the household helping him, or in a parallel to Cersei and Lysa, a woman of stature looking to get rid of her husband. And there are still more possibilities.

Page 2 of 2: Is Naomi Watts Playing Lady Casterly & Lann The Clever?

The Age Of Heroes Is Just "Myth"

The interesting thing about the source material for The Long Night as opposed to that of Game of Thrones is that it's far less rigid. If the prequel intends to build its narrative off of what are ultimately Westerosi tall tales, then there’s a lot of room to play around with what those stories would be through the lens of realism.

The Arthurian legends are prime examples of grandiose mythology built off of several different historical threads and embellished over time, and it makes sense the stories of the Age of Heroes followed a similar model. (It’s possible George Martin and Jane Goldman could completely abandon those stories in favor of completely original material, but that seems unlikely.) And if fans were to look at the story of Lann the Clever as its own brand of revisionist history, it could be that he wasn’t a man at all.

Is Naomi Watts A Gender-Swapped Lann The Clever?

A popular theory floating around the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom since the '90s posits that Lann the Clever could’ve been a woman. Its basis lies in the lack of definition surrounding most figures in the Age of Heroes and Martin’s predilection for writing women that masquerade as men for both survival and independence, the obvious example being Arya and to a lesser extent Brienne and Ygritte. If Lann the Clever really just refers to whomever was the active agent in Casterly Rock changing hands to Lannister control, that could easily be a scheming Casterly woman or a Lannister woman who manages to overthrow her own liege lord. In either of those instances, it's not hard to accept that a patriarchal society would eventually rewrite history into mythology that empowered men as opposed to women. To adopt that perspective on the story would make for an ambitious and timely choice for Game of Thrones' successor.

Is this tinfoil? Probably. Everything's a little tinfoil at this stage considering how little fans know about The Long Night, but this theory does offer some compelling avenues for speculation about not only Naomi Watts' character, but the overall trajectory for the next installment of the franchise. Game of Thrones has been no stranger to accusations of indulging in gratuitous violence against women and serving less feminism and more feminist lip service. Regardless of whether or not the bulk of fans agree with those admonishments, Goldman's prequel indicates The Long Night will offer more gender parity than its predecessor did, even if fans have no idea what form that will take.

More: Game of Thrones Spinoff: Every Update You Need To Know

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