“Game of Thrones” Begins Third Season Sunday Night

HBO(NEW YORK) -- One of the most popular shows on cable television returns for its third season this weekend.

The season premiere of Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, airs Sunday night on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. The epic, sex-and-violence-soaked fantasy drama follows various families, or houses, as they battle for control of the Seven Kingdoms.

At a recent red carpet event for Game of Thrones, cast members provided insight into the upcoming season. Peter Dinklage, who has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role as Tyrion Lannister, said his character "has to pick up the pieces" after the huge battle and assassination attempt he survived at the end of the second season.

Describing where Tyrion is now, as the third season opens, Dinklage told ABC News, "He’s gone from the highest position in Kings Landing to no position and he doesn’t know what his next move is going to be, so he does go quickly to his father to figure that out."  Unfortunately, as viewers will see, Tyrion's dad, the fearsome, filthy rich Tywin Lannister, isn't much help.

Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, the bastard son of the late Ned Stark, said conflict is ahead for his character, who has gone undercover with the Wildlings, also known as the free folk, in an attempt to bring back intelligence for the Night's Watch.

Harington told ABC News that the new season "is all about Jon trying to work out whether he is still loyal to Night's Watch, or whether he now wants to be a free man, wants to be part of the free folk.  And he's being tempted by that by Ygritte and certain other characters beyond the Wall, to try to come to their side."

Sophie Turner's Sansa Stark undergoes an evolution in the new episodes. Asked to describe Sansa's biggest challenge in season three, she told ABC News, "I think it's the transition that Sansa goes through, not only going from kind of young lady to woman, but also the transition that she goes through in going from kind of being used as a chess piece to actually being a player in the game. She becomes a lot more independent." Rumor has it Sansa will get married this season -- not to evil boy King Joffrey, but to someone completely unexpected.

The Game of Thrones fan base kept growing during the first two seasons, so the season premiere will likely bring in huge ratings for HBO. Why are so many people drawn to the show? Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Tyrion's brother Jaime Lannister, known as "The Kingslayer," believes it's because everyone can relate to it. He said the core of the show "is just people figuring out life."

Or, as Dinklage puts it, "It's both very current and real -- but also has dragons."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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