Game of Thrones is almost here, and rather than sulking in the bittersweet reality that this is the beginning of the end, there's a few more days to speculate what the final season may hold. The show's weapons master Tommy Dunne recently explained in a series of interviews how he and his team have managed to create every weapon for the acclaimed series, from the Valyrian steel sword to the dragonglass used to kill White Walkers.
Without giving too much away, Dunne told the Los Angeles Times that creating the weaponry for the eighth and final season was "the biggest trouble I ever had." Although he ultimately got it done, he completed the pieces "at the 11th hour as per normal."
Dunne has been the go-to weapons creator for Game of Thrones since the pilot. With 25 years of experience creating weaponry for film and television, Dunne explained that the show's creators approached him while he was working for the film Your Highness. "I had a read and I said, 'Ah, we’ll give it a go. It can’t be that big,'" he remembers. "All you can do is create the weaponry. You have no power. If it doesn’t go, then we’ll have a lot of souvenirs to get rid of."
In terms of where he draws inspiration from, the weapons master explains that he referenced Aztec armament while ideating obsidian—the naturally occurring volcanic glass referred to in the show as dragonglass.
"What’s the point of having any other weapon?" Dunne explained to Inverse. "Nothing normal is gonna work on the wights and the White Walkers. Everything has to go obsidian; every shape, every form of weaponry that we know of has to be turned into dragonglass."
Because of obsidian's unique chemical composition, it's very brittle, thus Dunne had to ensure that all the dragonglass weapons were short in comparison to other swords, otherwise there's a higher chance that they would break.
"When I was out in Mexico on a job, I brought a lot of real obsidian back with me," Dunne explains. "I collect rare or specific items. All our gear in that movie was from the Mayans—the exact type of look, feel, and time period that I wanted to try and replicate. These are the weapons that were used in the same way that people in Thrones would use them."
Although the obsidian used on the set of Thrones is made up of 99 percent rubber, Dunne mirrored the real deal while construction the harmless replicas used on set. "They’re all mapped out, hand-carved, and obviously molded and created to be safe."
In terms of what his weapons are made out of, Dunne confirmed that they're hand-forged using bronze and aluminum, however for the battle scenes, they use models made out of bamboo for safety purposes. Although he can't recall exactly how many weapons he's crafted over the course of his Thrones stint, he notes that "every army requires 200 to 300 swords, scabbards and shields, many featuring elaborate filigree and leatherwork."
The final season of Game of Thrones will premiere on Sunday, April 14 on HBO.