Somewhere, Ned Stark is smiling. That’s because his creator (and executioner) George R.R. Martin has finally gotten a taste of his own medicine. Midway through Syfy’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, the third entry in the unstoppable Sharknado franchise, the Game of Thrones author loses his head in the jaws of an airborne shark. That’s right — that portly, bearded gentleman in the movie theater who kind of looks like George R.R. Martin? It really is George R.R. Martin, making a top-secret cameo that the network managed to actually keep a secret until the film’s premiere Wednesday night.
The manner of Martin’s Sharknado death is so cruel and callous, he could have written it himself. One moment, George is sitting there marveling at the majestic sight of a three-headed shark in the film Shark Wedding…
… and in the next instant, a live shark bursts through the screen and lands on his lap, making a meal of his midsection.
Then another shark flies by, taking Martin’s noggin with him and splattering blood on the woman one seat over… who happens to be wearing a wedding dress. (We shouldn’t have to spell the significance of that visual metaphor out for you.)
And unlike Jon Snow, there’s no Lord of Light priestess waiting in the wings for an anticipated resurrection of Martin’s onscreen alter ego. Instead, to quote Arya Stark, “He dead. Like so dead. Like OMG dead!”
So how exactly did the man who has written death warrants for so many citizens of Westeros come to be shark food himself? According to Sharknado producer Chris Regina, Syfy’s Senior VP Program Strategy, the wheels were put in motion during a Random House party at the 2014 edition of San Diego Comic-Con where Martin was approached by various members of the Sharknado creative team. “He has great enthusiasm for the franchise and the brand,” Regina tells Yahoo TV. “He’s a genre fan, so he appreciates everything that speaks to the genre and keeps it alive and exciting.”
Despite his enthusiasm for all things Sharknado, Martin didn’t immediately leap at their offer to appear in the third installment, instead half-jokingly telling the group, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you.” At issue was the fact that Martin’s Santa Fe-based movie theater, the Jean Cocteau Cinema, wasn’t selected as one of the theaters able to stream a special Sharknado event where the first installment was ribbed by the smart aleck RiffTrax crew in front of a live audience. “We were like, ‘We’ll get you the print that you can run in your theater, if you can be in the next movie,” Regina says. “It was this fun little trade-off, and that’s how it came to be.”
From the beginning, the filmmakers’ plan was to kill Martin off in memorable fashion, as opposed to letting him escape unscathed — a fate that the author wholeheartedly agreed with. As Sharknado screenwriter Thunder Levin tells us, “Considering how many beloved characters George R.R. Martin has killed in his books, it seemed only fitting that he should die in a Sharknado!”
Levin adds that Martin’s appearance was actually filmed inside the Jean Cocteau Cinema (although the exterior marquee is from a theater located within Orlando’s Universal Studios theme park, where much of Sharknado 3 was shot). That setting informed the manner of his death. “If someone is in a movie theater, they’re likely to be sitting down, so decapitation seems the obvious method of shark-kill,” Levin explains.
But Regina confirms that the nod to Ned Stark’s death isn’t coincidental, and neither is the lady in the blood-spattered wedding dress sitting next to Martin. “The movie George is watching is called Shark Wedding,” he points out. “And at one point, somebody even said something like, ‘That’s some red wedding!’ It might have been George’s line or the woman next to him. We ended up trimming it, because we were running long on content.” (Levin says that the alternate version of the scene with Martin’s missing line may appear on the Sharknado 3 DVD.)
Because Martin’s scene was filmed towards the end of production, the author hasn’t seen his Sharknado debut — and demise — yet. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he’ll be experiencing it with the rest of the world,” Regina says, laughing. (If so, you can bet that he’ll live-tweet the moment on his popular Twitter feed.) But the big question remains, is Martin Ned Stark-dead within the Sharknado universe or is he merely Beric Dondarrion-dead? “This is the Syfy Channel,” Regina insists. “We have limitless imagination here. There are always stitches!”
So… George R.R. Martin is Frankenstein? That sounds like a Syfy Original Movie waiting to happen.