In case nobody caught up to speed earlier this week, the seventh season of HBO’s Prime TV property “Game of Thrones” began with its premiere episode “Dragonstone”. Said episode would go on to be the most-watched out of the entire show’s run since 2011, on both broadcast and streaming services. While fans were eager to catch up with what their favorite (and despised) characters have been up to since the season 6 finale, they were also caught by surprise by one singular appearance in the episode that seemed so out of place yet so fitting. The bit part of British music artist Ed Sheeran has been talked about and – sadly – also disparaged; so much that the show’s director had to step in and say something.

Strong reactions

The “Game of Thrones” production has been cooking up a long cameo of Ed Sheeran for seasons past as a gift of sorts for actress Maisie Williams, who is a major fan of his. This was the foundation of the singer’s bit part in the season 7 premiere episode. In the short scene involved, Arya Stark (Williams) runs into a patrol of Lannister soldiers cooking their meal outdoors. Despite the fact that they serve the family that tore her own apart, Arya shares their meal and enjoys her time with them, such as when one soldier (Sheeran) sings a song that features in the source book series written by George R.R. Martin.

However, not everyone who saw the premiere episode on HBO were impressed.

Some very scathing criticism of Sheeran’s long cameo began surfacing on social media. They have flooded his own Twitter account to the point that the artist had decided to delete it for a time. The furor had gotten so intense that Jeremy Podeswa, director of “Dragonstone”, had to make some statements defending Sheeran’s performance.

"I think Ed did a lovely job,” Podeswa said. “He's a lovely actor and a lovely person."

Not the first time

It may come as a surprise but Ed Sheeran was no pioneer in musicians appearing in “Game of Thrones”. Those who have already played their little roles in Westeros include the American heavy metal band Mastodon, Coldplay’s Will Champion, Sigur Rós, and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol.

Photos of the scene in the episode with Sheeran and Maisie Williams sitting together as their characters laughing has been circulating online since the start of the week.

Jeremy Podeswa’s statement tries to dissect the intensity of the reactions to Sheeran’s performance. “If people didn’t know who Ed was,” Podeswa said, “they wouldn’t have thought about it twice. The hoo-ha seems to be from things that are outside of the world of the show.” He concluded his remark with, “In the world of the show, he did a lovely job, and he looks like he belongs in that world.”