Westeros is a dangerous place; not only have you gotta avoid Cersei's wrath, Greyscale epidemics, Red Weddings and Dany's dragons, but you're also acutely aware of the fast approaching winter and an army of the dead heading your way. And the whole spectacle sounds just as difficult to shoot according to the Game of Thrones cast.
We recently heard from Rory McCann, a.k.a. the Hound about some of the brutal conditions that left him injured during Season 7, but Elle has gone on to ask other cast members about the moments they found the most challenging over the last seven years. From temporary blindness to mental torture, here are the moments the #GameofThrones cast found the toughest to film.
Euron's Moment With The Drowned God
For Pilou Asbæk who plays Euron Greyjoy, the moment he found most challenging was filming the drowning at the Kingsmoot from Season 6. In the scene, Euron is drowned to prove his legitimacy to rule the Iron Islands and be blessed by the Drowned God.
"Drowning after the kingsmoot, over and over. The kingsmoot is in the books for a whole chapter, but that’s not possible to do on a TV show with so many beautiful characters that we need to follow. So it’s a little bit different."
He explains that the scene took more than a day to shoot, and the whole time he was being held underwater in chilly Irish seas:
"The funny thing about that scene, I did that in September, and the drowning and resurrection took one or two days to shoot. When you’re underwater, and there’s a guy pushing you down, and it’s very, very cold, it’s one of those challenges that you have to accept as an actor: This is what it is. This is what we’re going to do."
Tormund Vs. The Wights
For Kristofer Hivju, the toughest scenes involved filming the onslaught of the wights. Tormund Giantsbane has cut down a fair few of the undead over the seasons, especially during Season 5's Massacre at Hardhome and Season 7's expedition beyond the wall.
"When you fight people, that has some kind of logic. But when you have to fight wights, they just keep coming. There's no end to it. There's just trying to survive. That gives you a desperate feeling."
Hivju says that the stunt coordinator created a system to attack the wights in a safe but realistic way, which was just as relentless as it looked on screen:
"What we did—because we couldn't choreograph every single kill—so Rowley [Irlam], the stunt coordinator, made up an alphabet for every one of us. We had seven movements we could play with. The stuntmen knew the language as well, so we just went for it. In the beginning, it was tough, but in the end it became a kind of horrible dance. It was extremely exhausting: They just kept coming, kept coming, kept coming. That was some great cardio training."
Maisie Williams has had to do several insane things in the name of Game of Thrones, but ultimately her most difficult scenes to film were during Season 6 when she was wearing those white contact lenses after the Many-Faced God makes her blind as punishment. Fortunately, they looked great!
"The contact lenses when Arya goes blind were really uncomfortable. But they looked incredible! They looked great on camera."
Meryn Trant's Well-Deserved Demise
It wasn't just #Arya who had issues with blindness while shooting Game of Thrones. During Season 5, Meryn Trant (played by Ian Beattie) met his end with a dagger to the eye and a cut to the throat.
"My death scene, which was shot over a few days. It was just me and Maisie [Williams], and my overriding memory was of darkness, because we started very early in the morning, and then I got prosthetics on both eyes, about 9 o’clock onward in the morning."
Trant is the first name on Arya's list, after she assumes he was the one to kill Syrio Forel. After learning Trant's preference for very young girls, she disguises herself to be alone with him in a Braavos brothel, stabbing him in the eyes and several times in the chest. For Beattie, the lack of sight helped him with the realism of the moment:
"I was completely blind. And I was blind until we finished at 9 o’clock that night. So it was in many ways quite a surreal day. It was very technical, but Maisie and I had worked it out in the rehearsals, and we were ready. And not being able to see helped with the vulnerability of the character in that moment."
Daario Wanted a New Outfit
The costume design on Game of Thrones is insane, but those outfits don't look like the most comfortable things in the world to wear under the beating Croatian sun. Michiel Huisman struggled with the heavy armor he had to wear while shooting in the height of summer:
"On Game of Thrones, one of the challenges has been wearing these beautiful, but really hot and heavy costumes. Especially if you’re shooting in August. I often throw just cubes of ice in the back of my costume, because I can’t just take it off. It takes longer to take it off than it takes to put it on."
Sadly, his suggestion of easy-release velcro hasn't been taken on board. Maybe he can ask IKEA.
"I’ve been begging them to use Velcro. Velcro, please! Thank you very much. But Game of Thrones wouldn’t be Game of Thrones if they didn’t go all the way. They want to use real stuff. No Velcro."
Jorah In Daznak's Pit
The show goes whole nine yards with its fight scenes, and what takes up only a few minutes of screen time takes days, and perhaps even weeks, to shoot. For Iain Glen, Season 5's battle in Daznak's Pit where he faced off against multiple foes to try and regain Daenerys' favor was the hardest to film:
"Doing the gladiatorial fight in Spain, where Jorah had to take on all these various fighters in front of all these people, that was two weeks of very intense work, guided by our wonderful director David Nutter. But it took a great deal of preparation, and you’re really at the mercy of how a director is going to shoot it, to see if he’s going to leave you dead on the floor, or if he’s going to find a way to shoot it multi-camera, so you don’t have to do it all the time, from beginning to end."
However, the whole experience was an enjoying (if not challenging) one. He explained that sometimes accidents happen, but overall the scene turned out well:
"In the end, I really enjoyed that. I’ve always enjoyed stage fighting. But at the time, and running up to it, I was pretty fearful, thinking, I just hope I can do this. When it’s that extensive of a fight—I was fighting various people with different weapons—things can happen. Accidents can happen. But we were blessed, and it all went well. I was very happy with the way it all turned out."
Theon's Mental Torture
Poor Theon. His storyline ever since he was captured by Ramsay has been a dismal sight to witness. Much of Season 3 and 4 was spent having parts of him removed, violently tortured and humiliated. To prepare, Alfie Allen dug deep and watched movies to take him to a dark place:
"My prep for the torture scenes is all in the mind. Mental. Mental stuff going on in my head. So my preparation has more to do with what's going on in there. And I just watch stuff, like Reservoir Dogs, I watched that quite a bit. I thought Kirk Baltz was underrated."
He tried to imagine the most painful things he could to portray the agony his character was going through:
His ear...and pain—my job as an actor is to convey emotions that I experience in my own life and make that relevant to other people, and that pain is something you need to experience yourself, you know? So I just thought of the most painful things I could think of, and tried to exaggerate it, but it was hard. Really hard."
It's clear that Game of Thrones is a gruelling show to film, with the harsh conditions, heavy costumes and intense fight scenes. Having said that, when you think about the amount of moola the cast get paid per episode, it's hard to feel too sorry for them.
Who do you think had the toughest time on set? Let us know in the comments!