Oh, I didn’t see that one coming. This is the last time we’re ever going to be doing this. It’s completely unexpected. -I– I mean, I audibly gasped.
-(GASPS) Like, “No!” ♪ (EPIC MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ DAVE HILL: First episodes of every season are always a challenge. But for the final season, it was a lot of pressure because we had all these characters convening at Winterfell.
D.B. WEISS: We thought that the arrival was a way to capture what was at stake for Dany and for Jon. For Arya on the ground, and for Tyrion and Varys, and Grey Worm and Missandei on horseback. Everybody has a slightly different take on what’s happening here.
Background! Action! David Nutter directed half the season for us, and there’s no more beloved director in the business. BERNADETTE CAULFIELD: Usually a director on Game of Thrones will shoot for three days, then he has two days prep, and then he maybe shoots for a full week, but Nutter just had to go all out for eight or nine weeks of shooting. KIT HARINGTON: I was so happy that he was back for the final season.
David Nutter really felt like part of the family. DAVID NUTTER: We shot, uh, a lot of the parade stuff at the end of the year where we had kind of the two shortest days of the year. Then we came back and kinda brought some scope to it.
Winter’s Town is a settlement just outside of Winterfell. And so that road was snowed. We built the little buildings that led up the road. It was completely redressed to be the Winterfell little town. It’s basically a huge parade. The ADs sought out background villagers’ reactions, so you’re actually working with the extras in a way so you’re getting a performance out of everybody.
We worked with the military advisers so a lot of these guys looked professional marching step. (GRUNTING) JAMIE MILES: When we tell them to do something, they do it. We teach them some very basic drill movements so they know how to stand, everything’s under a command, a whistle blast, so they get to learn to react in a military style, in a disciplined style.
CHRIS NEWMAN: Anything that’s on the page, we tend to… show rather than just imply. If you’re gonna say you want to see thousands of Unsullied, then we have to show it. STEFEN FANGMEIER: It’s a significant big scope moment.
So the challenge was definitely to find ways to really make it seem like thousands are arriving. You have to have a vantage point from higher up. NUTTER: When I read the opening sequence and I saw this little boy running to try to see the parade and see the show and see what he’s missing, I felt like that little boy, ’cause I’d been gone for two seasons. So, in some respects, I kinda was that little boy.
(DRAGON ROARS) SOPHIE TURNER: Daenerys arrives and immediately, Sansa wants to make it very clear that she runs this shit. ♪ (UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ This is a tough crowd. KIT: I think Jon knows Sansa well enough now that, when it comes to Dany, he knows he’s going to have some difficulty. SOPHIE: Jon is in love with her, has bent the knee, he’s got googly eyes on, he’s got like, beer goggles on. NUTTER: I basically sat down with Sophie and told her, you have to remember one thing: This is your house. JON SNOW: Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen.
Thank you for inviting us into your home, Lady Stark. The North is as beautiful as your brother claimed. As are you. You’re meeting the family!
You want to do well! You want them to like you, goddamn it! And, um, you’re met with this stony, stoic silence. KIT: It’s not a comfortable homecoming, no.
There are a lot of people on set kind of like a giant game of “Where’s Waldo?” In the first episode, a couple of our friends from the comedy world were in a scene. They gouged my eye out!
-(LAUGHS) -They gouged my fucking eye out! They can put it back in, right? -Right? -Yeah. (LAUGHS) Benioff told me they would.
DAVID BENIOFF: When we found out that George Lucas wanted to visit, we thought maybe it was a practical joke, and then we were really excited and also nervous because it’s George Lucas. DAENERYS: Your sister doesn’t like me. JON: If it makes you feel any better, she didn’t like me either when we were growing up. Now print.
NUTTER: George would be sitting at my director’s chair, that was so cool for me. I had George go out and speak to Kit and Emilia. Okay, okay, that was great. Great. Great. No direction for you… -I don’t really care about you.
-(LAUGHS) I don’t care what happens to you. -What?! -What’s going on?
I mean, like the first time like I could remember telling stories was me as a little kid mashing together these, like Stormtrooper dolls. For so many of us, he’s the one who started our obsession with this kind of big, epic storytelling. NUTTER: And of course, the input that he put through with the writer Dave Hill’s head. MAN: Three, two, one, go! (GRUNTS) HILL: I very much learned the lesson that sometimes when you write two words, that you then create so much work (CHUCKLES) for everyone involved.
Oh, I get an axe in the head. Simple enough. Next thing I know, I’m flying to London, to go out to have my face sculpted, be wrapped in plaster and molded. The day of, I’m in a chair for four-and-a-half hours. (GRUNTS) It was great to see that we were basically gonna get to take Dave Hill out, one of our writers.
It’s quite nice to be able to, um, kill fellow crew members off (LAUGHS) in the nicest kind of way. HILL: Having to go and be the one who give the performance is so much more trouble (CHUCKLES) than I imagined. And I was just trying desperately not to screw it up. And I did, the first time. And the second time, better at it. DIRECTOR: And board.
(INDISTINCT CHATTER) ♪ (DISTORTED MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ DEBORAH RILEY: The Godswood Tree is such an iconic piece of the show. To create that Godswood tree is a huge amount of effort. Every year, it would have to be painted white. It would be coated in latex, a sculpted face would be applied to it. The greens team would go about adding branches to it with flocked red leaves that Kevin Fraser would paint up for us.
It’s a process where you take a flock, which is a fiber, and actually adhere it to the leaf on one surface. So, obviously, you’ve got some quite interesting dynamics when things were lit and shot. ARYA STARK: You used to be taller.
MAISIE WILLIAMS: When I first got the scripts, it was like a bunch of lords and ladies talking, and I was thinking, “Are we ever gonna get a scene together again? And then, finally got to that scene and I was just beaming. KIT: The really spooky thing was turning around and seeing her for the first time, and what I wanted to try and get was this kind of punch to the gut… of literally turning around and seeing time having past. JON: You still have the sword. -ARYA: Needle.
-JON: Needle. The most amazing thing happened. I just didn’t have to do anything.
We had two actors who hadn’t worked together since season one… to get a chance to show pure true love. (GASPING) NUTTER: The one thing I told the actors in season eight, the audience just wants to see you breathe. MAISIE: To watch Kit grow as an actor on the show has been incredible, and I think the fans are gonna love it ’cause I loved it. I hit you right in the face. -KIT: It’s all right.
-MAISIE: I’m so sorry! WOMAN: Cut, go again. Part of the fun of the episode was bringing back together all these characters. It’s also the challenge of the episode because you don’t want it to feel like it’s, you know, just the reunion episode.
DIRECTOR: Ready and action! ♪ (UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ ARYA: Leave him be. WEISS: The Hound and Gendry, we thought it would make sense for kind of the one-two punch of these two people who served very, very different roles in her life. GENDRY: Is that a command, Lady Stark? Don’t call me that.
He still thinks that she’s the same girl that he left beforehand. You’ve gotten better. Yeah, thanks. So have you.
I think for Arya, it’s remembering who she was before. -I mean, you look good. -Thanks.
Like I used to be that girl, and that’s who I was in love with and thought I would follow to the end of the world. WEISS: The Hound-Arya reunion, that’s a thing we were most excited about writing. You left me to die. I still robbed you. Everyone would hope the reunion between Arya and The Hound would be laughs and giggles, but actually, it starts off as like cold ’cause it’s kind of a defense mechanism for both characters.
THE HOUND: You’re a cold little bitch, aren’t you? Guess that’s why you’re still alive. There’s also Tyrion and Sansa. PETER DINKLAGE: There’s something between Tyrion and Sansa you can’t quite put your finger on ’cause they’re… “You left me, and then you know what happened to me, and I know what happened to you.”
Apologies for leaving like that. Yes, it was a bit hard to explain why my wife fled moments after the king’s murder. It’s tricky with them. They have to watch their words around each other, but at the end of the day, she does trust him. And at the very end, we have the silent reunion with Jamie and Bran.
If he tells the rest of the clan the truth… I’m– I’m done. I’m dead. NUTTER: To me, I wanted to make sure that, with respect to people getting back together again, those all had their credence and importance, but also, I didn’t want the audience to forget the fact that the impending doom was coming.
MAN: A Camera mark. ♪ (UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ They’re coming. There’s no way around it. (CHUCKLES) This is a great horror movie sequence that Dave Nutter, um, directed the hell out of. Somehow, Beric and Tormund survived falling down that wall of ice. We find that it’s strangely– there’s blood everywhere, but there’s no bodies.
Stay back, he’s got blue eyes! I’ve always had blue eyes! Did you find anyone?
BARRIE GOWER: The scene in The Last Hearth, we have this mandala of limbs and body parts the Night King has left behind, which form this kind of pattern, and in the middle of it, we have Ned Umber, who’s basically pinned to the wall on a huge stake. Obviously, we know what happens to people who are killed by the Night King or white walkers. (SHRIEKING) GOWER: The young boy was suspended in a harness, and then to basically kill the wight, Beric uses his flaming sword and takes out the wight. We had to shoot that on a stunt guy called Paul Lowe, who was of a similar sort of stature to the actor playing Ned. PAUL LOWE: Game of Thrones is the first time I got a full burn so that’s a nice tick.
What I guess a lot of stuntmen wanna have. And for that, because he was gonna be engulfed in flames, we had to make a lookalike fire mask. ROWLEY IRLAM: Are we good? You can hear me okay, yeah? I love– I love what you’ve done with your hair. BERIC DONDARRION: It’s a message.
From the Night King. Being Beric Dondarrion, I’m always setting people on fire. You have the mask off, you talk through it, what the process is gonna be. Then we’ll roll the cameras, okay? The first three-two-one will be to light the sword, then it’ll be three-two-one, action, for Nick to stab you. You lift your arm up to stab on three, okay?
On action, he’s gonna stab you. Hold this position like this. When you hear me start to count, that’s when you start to react. You then have to go and do it. They’ll gel you, they’ll spritz you and they’ll light you.
ROWLEY: One! Action! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, out, out, out! LOWE: Well, you have an idea of what it’s gonna be like but when I was set on fire, you’ve only got these little small eye holes. All I could see were little flicks in my eyes of like a little bit of red.
And the first time we’d done it, and like it went all, and they put me out, I said, “Was I on fire?” And they said, “Yeah, it was massive.” (CHEERS, APPLAUSE) JON: You’ve completely ruined horses for me. It almost seemed like you knew where it wanted to go.
-Not quite– -Aw, fuck! -(CONTAINED LAUGHTER) -KIT: Fuck’s sake. ♪ (UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ We’re shooting in Iceland! Isn’t it beautiful? We only have about six hours of light, so we all come out about 3 hours before the sun rises.
Grip and electric get to lay about a 40-foot track, our department was laying down all the bones for our nest for our dragons. BENIOFF: Some of those locales in Iceland are so breathtaking that real environments just help the actors so much, so if it’s Kit and Emilia walking past a frozen river in Iceland and they’re shivering– that’s real. Yeah, this fire lady, dragon mama is not used to the cold!
No problem, I can stand in the snow all day. I just loved that I could go there with Emilia. I got to show this thing that’s been such a… large part of the Thrones’ worl for me. I got to show her Iceland. EMILIA CLARKE: Magic dragon ride! I like it, it just felt like, a magic carpet ride!
We just sort of… playing tag on the dragons. (CHUCKLING) It’s beautiful. FANGMEIER: We were lucky to get a great day of aerial photography in Iceland with a helicopter shooting these most beautiful river canyons with beautiful snow coverage. And then where they land was meant to be a very pristine and gorgeous location as well. Dan and David said, “You know, maybe– Can we have a waterfall here?”
So, we went all the way to Iceland, to this beautiful canyon, and then we end up adding a massive waterfall later on in post because it still wasn’t quite spectacular. -Ooh! Ugh! -(EMILIA YELPS) DIRECTOR: And… let’s roll, please, rolling rolling. KIT: I think the actual dragon ride was like… yeah, it’s one bit where you gotta convey your love for each other and you’re in a green box on a– on a buck. So much of what we’re doing now requires robotics.
So we’ll start with previews and in order to then shoot it, we’ll go into a green screen stage with a motion base, which is kind of like a mechanical bull, only in this case, it’s got a dragon’s butt on top of it. And then the cameras are swinging around on a 3D-controlled wire rig, programmed to match the previews. Don’t know how to ride a dragon! Butt work is not easy. I think what sums up the buck for me was… there was a bit where Jon almost falls off the dragon, swings around really violently like this, and my right ball got trapped, and I didn’t have time to say stop, and I was being swung around. In my head, I thought, “This is how it ends.
On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles. Literally.” (CONTAINED LAUGHTER OFF-SCREEN) (CHUCKLES) Sorry. Probably too much information. ♪ (TENSE MUSIC PLAYS) ♪ KIT: It’s just… way too much to take.
I was joking with John like, “How do you, as an– How do you receive all those bits of information? How would you possibly try and act that? When they’ve got death raining down at them?” And suddenly he finds out the truth about his life, that he’s not a bastard, that everything he’s lived by is not the case.
And on top of that, the– his new lo– (SIGHS) his new love of his life is his aunt. Like, I mean, I was like, “Oh, come on. This is an impossible task.” I wasn’t a king.
But you were. You’ve always been. He wouldn’t want to hurt Jon with it. He would only tell Jon that if it were the truth.
If there’s one thing he knows about Sam, it’s that Sam is a stickler for facts, and Sam is very literal. SAMWELL TARLY: You’ve never been a bastard. You’re Aegon Targaryen, true heir to the Iron Throne. KIT: A way to get around it was disbelief, like, “Sam’s gone mad. What’re you talking about?” Quickly followed by it making sense and anger.
You’re the true king. Aegon Targaryen. Sixth of his name, Protector of the Realm. All of it. KIT: I don’t care if you’re my best friend in the world, I will… I will… knock you out.
How dare you tell this to me. My father was the most honorable man I ever met. Your father… Ned Stark, he promised your mother he’d always protect you. And he did!
Robert would’ve murdered you if he knew. And the truth that Samwell tells Jon, is probably the most incendiary fact in the entire world of the show. Ned Stark understood how dangerous the truth about Jon was, and that’s why he protected Jon from it. SAMWELL: You gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same? ♪ (SOMBER MUSIC PLAYS) ♪