Back in April, Complex and every major media publication around reported about an epic battle in the last season of Game of Thrones that took 55 nights to film. Turn out that was, unbelievably, an understatement.
A new Entertainment Weekly cover story reveals it took 55 days only to film the battle’s outdoor scenes at the Winterfell set. Shooting other parts took additional weeks. Weeks! EW reports the epic showdown against the army of the dead is “expected to be the most sustained action sequence ever made for television or film.”
The episode is directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who also helmed “Battle of the Bastards,” which took 25 nights to shoot. “It’s brutal,” Peter Dinklage told EW. “It makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park.”
Although the conclusion consists of just six episodes, Thrones spent 10 months filming.
There is still minimal information about the final season of GoT. Cast and crew were given scripts, production documents, and schedules with code names for characters (Emilia Clarke’s was “Eldiss”), and we already know about the drone killer.
But we now know Season 8 opens at Winterfell, where Daenerys and Jon Snow arrive to prepare for the ultimate fight against the Night King. As to be expected, it’s a reunion.
“It’s about all of these disparate characters coming together to face a common enemy, dealing with their own past, and defining the person they want to be in the face of certain death,” co-executive producer Bryan Cogman told EW. “It’s an incredibly emotional, haunting, bittersweet final season, and I think it honors very much what George [R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire author] set out to do—which is flipping this kind of story on its head.”
When the clash arrives, the storyline “intercuts between multiple characters involved in their own survival storylines.” “Having the largest battle doesn’t sound very exciting—it actually sounds pretty boring,” co-showrunner David Benioff said. “Part of our challenge, and really, Miguel’s challenge, is how to keep that compelling…we’ve been building toward this since the very beginning, it’s the living against the dead, and you can’t do that in a 12-minute sequence.”
In this new season, Winterfell has been expanded, costumes were upgraded, and everything is a little more top-notch across the board. ‘This is it,’” Clarke said of filming the final scenes. “Everything feels more intense. I had a scene with someone and I turned to him and said, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to do this ever again,’ and that brings tears to my eyes.”
Kit Harington experienced that sense of finality during a table reading, and cried as he arrived at the final page of the script. “Every season, you read at the end of the last script ‘End of Season 1,’ or ‘End of Season 2,’” Harington told EW. “This read ‘End of Game of Thrones.’”