By Piya Sinha-Roy
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Television actors treated Comic-Con audiences to glimpses of their upcoming shows, including HBO's "Game of Thrones," which highlighted its new season premiere on Friday at a packed showcase inside the giant pop culture event.
"Thrones" fans, many dressed as their favorite characters, lined up hours in advance to hear cast members speak in a panel discussion that introduced new actors for season 3, including Mackenzie Crook as Orell and Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell, also known as the Queen of Thorns.
George R. R. Martin, author of "A Song of Fire and Ice" books that were adapted into the "Game of Thrones" TV show, was joined on the panel by actors Richard Madden, Michelle Fairley, Alfie Allen and others. Yet, little was revealed about upcoming season except for the premiere date, March 31, 2013.
"Game of Thrones" has captured audiences with its epic tale of a fictional, medieval world where a battle for the Iron Throne wages between the leaders of seven kingdoms who grapple with murder, betrayal, sex, love and moral questions.
"Everyone's sort of flawed in the show. I think the dark and complex characters are more interesting to play than straightforward heroes, but there aren't any straightforward heroes in 'Game of Thrones,'" said Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy.
Comic-Con, which attracts more than 125,000 people over four days, is a pop culture showcase where fans of comic books and science fiction movies gather. Hollywood's studios have trekked here for years to showcase their upcoming fantasy films, and more recently TV producers and networks have shown up, too.
Convention veteran Elijah Wood, who has been coming here since 2001, brought new Disney channel show "Tron: Uprising" to fans this year, as well as returning with his FX comedy, "Wilfred" for the second year.
"Comic-Con encapsulates enthusiasm. The words 'geek' and 'nerd culture' get confused a lot, but it's about enthusiasm for a multitude of art forms slanted towards the genre of fantasy and sci-fi," Wood told Reuters in a recent interview.
"It's fun to take things there ... people line up for these things. There's an immediate sense of enthusiasm and excitement and there's a serious lack of cynicism," he said.
Wood and his "Wilfred" co-stars - creator Jason Gann, who plays Wilfred the dog, Fiona Gubelmann and Dorian Brown - hosted a panel with a screening of an episode.
"'Wilfred' is not your average comedy show. It's quite strange and left-of-center and cerebral, and some of those elements are some of the things the core audience at Comic-Con are interested in," Wood said.
Other TV highlights this year have been Starz network's "Spartacus," which returned to the convention for the final time this year ahead of its final season airing in January 2013.
CBS brought new show "Elementary," a modern interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories, as well as Comic-Con's favorite TV nerds from the network's "The Big Bang Theory."
Cable TV network Showtime brought back anti-hero "Dexter," a lovable serial killer masquerading as a forensics expert.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)