It’s finally here, the very fitting moment Arya was preparing for with our beloved Syrio, all the way back in Game of Thrones’ first season.
Even better, Arya’s first true battle will be the series’ biggest yet and directed by the incomparable Miguel Sapochnik (“Hardhome, Battle of the Bastards”). As described in an Entertainment Weekly cover story, the long-awaited showdown between the White Walker army and … well, everyone is nearly upon us and by all accounts, the process of filming what the cast and crew call “The Long Night” was harrowing — eleven weeks of night shoots to capture the epic event that involves over 750 people in sub-30 degree temperatures.
Of filming, Maisie Williams said,
I skip the battle every year, which is bizarre since Arya’s the one who’s been training the most. This is my first taste of it. And I’ve been thrown in at the deep end … nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It’s night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn’t stop. You can’t get sick, and you have to look out for yourself because there’s so much to do that nobody else can do… there are moments you’re just broken as a human and just want to cry.”
Of course, Williams’ heroine isn’t the only Stark (or human) under pressure here; this is it, the be all to end all fight of their lives for humanity. The players going against the terrifying Night King and his reanimated horde — including Viserion — must all unite as one if there are to be any survivors to sit upon (never mind the human infighting) the Iron Throne. That means (Ae)Jon Snow (Targaryen), Sansa Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, Grey Worm, Brienne of Tarth, Tyrion Lannister, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Davos Seaworth, Samwell Tarly, and Jorah Mormont are among the warriors. Even the hardiest actors who have been through many Thrones‘ fights had something to say about how hard this battle was to film.
“Everybody prays they never have to do this again.” (Rory McCann aka The Hound)
“It was the most unpleasant experience I’ve had on Thrones. A real test, really miserable. You get to sleep at seven in the morning and when you wake in the midday you’re still so spent you can’t really do anything, and then you’re back. You have no life outside it. You have an absolute f—ked bunch of actors. But without getting too method [acting] about it, on screen it bleeds through to the reality of the Thrones world.” (Iain Glen aka Ser Jorah)
Liam Cunningham aka Ser Davos was especially impressed with the crew, who he heard “… was getting 40,000 steps a day on their pedometers. They’re the f—king heroes.”
That penultimate episode dubbed “Night” is rumored to have a 90-minute airtime, to be followed a week later by the David Benioff and Dan Weiss directed series finale for which filming was so secretive, there were closed sets and required special crew badges. I shudder to think how many of the characters shown here …
… will be missing after May 19th. For more photos and the full story, check out EW.
For now, I’ll just keep watching clips of Arya and Syrio until I’ve convinced myself his training was so great, Arya couldn’t possibly die.