Those who follow Game of Thrones news religiously in the "off-season" have known for months that international pop star Ed Sheeran had filmed a cameo in the Season 7 premiere, but many fans didn't take too kindly to his appearance after the premiere aired. After a slew of negative reactions on social media, from both fans and critics alike, the singer even deleted his Twitter account on Sunday night, although he reactivated it again on Monday, and now the director of the premiere is coming to his defense. Here's what director Jeremy Podeswa had to say when asked about the negative backlash surrounding Ed Sheeran's Game of Thrones cameo.

"I think Ed did a lovely job. He's a lovely actor and a lovely person. 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. 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."
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The Game of Thrones premiere reactions from fans, in regards to Ed Sheeran, were often quite negative, and the critics were not on board as well. The Guardian's review called the Ed Sheeran cameo a "dud," while GQ proclaimed that Ed Sheeran's appearance was "the worst kind of cameo". The Ed Sheeran cameo was first announced by Game of Thrones creators/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss at the SXSW festival, revealing that they wanted to cast him as a surprise to Maisie Williams, since she is a huge fan of the singer. He only appeared in one scene, where Maisie Williams' character Arya Stark comes across a group of Lannister soldiers on her travels, one of which (Ed Sheeran) is singing a brand new song she had never heard of. The soldiers make small-talk with Arya, who reveals she's on her way to King's Landing, and when asked why she's going there, she tells them that she's going to kill the Queen. Director Jeremy Podeswa, who has directed six episodes of Game of Thrones in total, including the premiere and the Season 7 finale, revealed he was surprised at all of the backlash about this innocuous character. Here's what the director had to say during his interview with Newsweek.

"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. He comes with no entourage. There's nothing connected with him that's in the least bit self-aware or self-conscious. The only thing I don't feel great about is that Ed is such a lovely guy and really genuine and down to earth. He came into this with only lovely intentions to come and do a good job and sing well. So I think that's the only drag."

The online backlash certainly didn't stop fans from tuning in, though, with the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere setting a new ratings record. 16.1 million viewers watched the episode on Sunday night, which includes the premiere, repeats on HBO, DVR and streaming, 10.1 million of which tuning in for the 9 PM premiere. Fans may get more details about the new season tomorrow with the Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel starting at 1:30 PM in Hall H. In case you missed it on Sunday night, or want to watch it again, take a look at the clip featuring Ed Sheeran's cameo from the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere.