In the grander scheme of things, it truly doesn't matter that Ed Sheeran, noted regular international superstar boy with a guitar, was in about three minutes of Game of Thrones. But people care dammit! They really do!
And when they saw his face, that slightly befuddled half-grin poking out of some Lannister armour rather than his trademark regular-guy-trying-too-hard-to-look-like-a-regular-guy outfit, it naturally pulled some people out of the Game of Thrones experience.
But in a new interview with Newsweek, Game of Thrones Season Seven premiere director Jeremy Podeswa defended Sheeran's presence on the show.
"I think Ed did a lovely job—he's a lovely actor and a lovely person," he said. "He was appropriate for the part because he needed to sing. If people didn't know who Ed was, 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. In the world of the show he did a lovely job, and he looks like he belongs in that world."
This makes technical sense, as they put a guy who can sing in a scene where he needed to sing. But it also doesn't make sense for a director trying to sell a good experience to viewers. Yes, they're trying to cast a guy who can sing, but the guy who can sing also needs to work in the greater context of the show's tone, image, and escapism. Ed Sheeran doesn't really do any of that, as fans know him as the regular guy with the guitar, who also is friends with Taylor Swift, and sings about being a regular guy with a guitar.
"I think people interrogated it too much, they're bringing so much of his [superstar] presence into the thing which is far beyond what anybody was thinking going into it. He is known to the producers of the show and some of the cast, and he's a gigantic fan of the show. As everybody knows, the show really eschews stunt casting—it's never, ever done that," the director said. "I was quite surprised about the reaction actually because I know he's very well known and a successful singer but you're in the bubble of the show—the cast are well known too, everybody is really well known...none of them can walk down the street without being followed. You don't think about that very much in this context."
But wasn't the entire point of casting an international celebrity randomly in a tacked-on three-minute scene intended to almost exclusively bring his "superstar presence" into it? If he's only in it because he so happens to be a random fan who can sing, then why am I not in it as a random fan who could be shot by an arrow in the background of some battle?
If you're only putting Ed Sheeran in your show as a fun stunt to get a viral moment, then say you're only putting Ed Sheeran in your show as a fun stunt to get a viral moment. And even if that's the case, does Game of Thrones really need a celebrity cameo to boost its ratings? This isn't How I Met Your Mother.