[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones ahead.]
Jessica Henwick has discussed the grueling battle scene at the end of Game of Thrones episode 'Stormborn' and why it was worse for the actors than the audience. While much of 'Stormborn' was focused on setting up the remainder of season 7, a number of plot-lines moved forward. In the end, action finally erupted as Daenerys' best laid plans were torn to shreds by Euron Greyjoy. While the version of Euron we saw last week was a pale shadow of his character in the books, this week's final battle finally did the Crow's Eye justice.
With an abundance of blood and fire that would make Dany's ancestor's happy, Euron swept aside the Greyjoys not loyal to him, shattered Theon once again, and wiped a number of characters off the map. Among the deaths was Jessica Henwick's Nymeria Sand. Though never featured prominently on the show, book fans will certainly be sad to see her go. Luckily, she was able to make time in between shooting Iron Fist and The Defenders to send her character off. Still, it was no easy feat:
EW spoke with Henwick about filming her Game of Thrones death scene and what went into the chaotic battle. While the actor admitted that most battle scenes are a breeze compared to how they look in the episode, the ship scene was full of actual danger and turmoil:
"It was grueling. It was one of the few occasions where it was more intense on set than it will be on screen. Normally there’s a lot of CG [when filming action scenes] and you watch it on screen and you see a massive epic battle, but when you’re filming it’s all quite tame by comparison. For this, the audience can’t feel the heat on their face from the pyrotechnics going off or feel the wave machine trying to knock us off our feet, or the sweat dripping off our faces. They were blowing burning embers onto us. One of the stunt double’s wigs caught fire. And some of the stunt doubles fell through the balsa wood floor of the ship. It was hard, night shoots, we were really battling the elements they had created. I’m sure it’s going to look great but it was bigger in real life than on screen."
While the fast cuts and night shoot made much of the action hard to follow, it's interesting to learn how much actual chaos went into filming the scene. For a show that could easily rely on CGI, it's refreshing to know how much practical effects helped build the scene. Of course, many fans will also be displeased that two of the three Sand Snakes on the show came back after a long absence, only to be unceremoniously killed off. For Henwick, however, it was better to give Nym a farewell than leave her fate unknown:
"The plan was for it to be a more of a drawn out storyline. But because of my limited schedule [the story changed]. The first thing I thought was that it’s brutal. It’s hard reading these scenes where characters you love are getting absolutely demolished. And in our case, it’s by a crazy madman. I knew it was going to be very intense and very physical. I was excited because on the page you could feel the scope of it. And there is something fulfilling about finishing it."
With less than a dozen episodes left in Game of Thrones as a whole, the deaths in 'Stormborn' are likely only the beginning - as the forces of Dany, Cersei, Jon, and the White Walkers continue their wars.
Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘The Queen’s Justice’ @ 9pm on HBO.