D.B. Weiss and David Benioff said that the singer was invited to the set as a surprise for Sheeran superfan Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on the HBO series. "For years, we tried to get Ed Sheeran on the show to surprise Maisie, and this year we finally did it," Benioff said, the Guardian reports. Sheeran ended up filming a small, unspecified role while on set.
Game of Thrones has a history of recruiting rockers to make brief and often unrecognizable appearances on the show, including Coldplay's Will Champion, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody and members of Sigur Ros, Of Monsters and Men and Mastodon. In the latter case, the members of Mastodon were unidentifiable as the zombie-like Wildings, Vanity Fair reports.
In addition to Sheeran, Weiss and Benioff confirmed rumors that the final Thrones season in 2018 would consist of only six episodes, as HBO programming president Casey Bloys hinted.
"From the beginning we've wanted to tell a 70-hour movie," said Benioff. "It will turn out to be a 73-hour movie, but it's stayed relatively the same of having the beginning, middle and now we're coming to the end. It would have been really tough if we lost any core cast members along the way, I'm very happy we've kept everyone and we get to finish it the way we want to."