HBO’s Game Of Thrones has sparked all kinds of fan theories about dragon fire and royal lineage—some of which have even panned out—over the course of its seven seasons. There’s still a lot of speculation on what Ned Stark whispered just before he was beheaded in the first season. Some fans posit the felled Lord Of Winterfell simply said “Valar Morghulis,” while others think he said something along the lines of “I kept my promise,” a phrase that would link to Jon Snow’s parentage. Here’s the clip from “Baelor,” in case you want to see what you can make out:
Now that the show has confirmed that R+L does in fact equal J, the idea that Ned, who raised Jon with the Stark kids, went to his grave knowing he’d kept his promise to his sister makes more sense. But now Sean Bean is blowing up that theory. In an interview with The Huffington Post, the actor said he didn’t spend Ned’s final moments making reference to his sister or the Faceless Men—he said a little prayer for himself.
Bean explains the thinking behind his little incantation: “I couldn’t be too specific, because I don’t know if religion [like that] was around in those days, whatever they were. I just thought, ‘What would you do if this were really gonna happen?’ You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you’d keep it quiet. You’d keep it to yourself.” It certainly works within the context of the scene—even though he’s just suffered the ultimate betrayal from Joffrey, at least Ned knows his youngest isn’t watching his execution, so small favors and all that. (But as usual, poor Sansa.)
“It’s quite subtle in that many people wouldn’t pick it up,” the actor continued. “It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There’s not much you can do really, you’ve got your head on a block. That’s about the only thing you can do is murmur.”