Warning: Spoilers for season 8 episode 3 of Game of Thrones ahead.
The Night King was unceremoniously ended on the most recent episode of Game of Thrones when Arya Stark jammed the catspaw's dagger into Old Icy's guts, bringing an ending to a mystery that's hung over the show since its very first episode. With only a few episodes left, we'll likely never find out what drove the Night King to march on the living, but the actor who played him has some idea.
In a new interview with Variety and Vulture, Vladimír Furdík talked about that scene with Arya and Bran Stark and also reiterated that the North's boogeyman has a suitably angsty reason for wanting to end the world of man. In short, he never asked to be born.
Furdik, a stuntman who earned the role of the Night King after impressing in earlier Thrones fight scenes, said that the embodiment of Winter and Death was really just miffed at being brought into existence and being forced to reside in the sort of space where even the most hospitable areas have names like Hardhome.
"Somebody, many years ago, made some mistake and he became the Night King, and he didn’t want to be the Night King," Furdik explained. "He was like now I have a way to go to war. Now I kill everybody because you made me the Night King and made me live seven or 10 thousand years behind the wall in a cold country. He’s tired of living out there in the cold and the snow."
In spite of his appropriately cold demeanor throughout the episode, Furdik said that there were levels to his performance, with him nodding toward feelings of desire without expressing too much. His explanation of approaching Bran in Winterfell's old-school outdoor holy place was particularly interesting.
"I remember a couple of times when I did the walk, and I go for my target, which was Bran, and [director Miguel Sapochnik] said, 'Bran, he is not man. He is a cake. And you would like to eat this cake," he told Vulture. "And I would like to see you acting, you’re walking to him, you’re walking like you’re looking for that cake, which is waiting for you under the tree.'"
Furdik also revealed that the final scene with Arya was physically and emotionally draining. He said he had trained actress Maisie Williams for fights earlier in the series, so sharing this final scene with her was particularly tough (before we even get to the whole, catching Williams in the air thing).
"This was one of the hardest days of my life. I did many difficult stunts, running through fire, many crazy things. But this moment with Arya when I grab her, and the emotions from Maisie were so strong, I felt like I spent all my energy that day," he said. "It was raining, it was cold, it wasn’t easy for Maisie to jump at the right time, it wasn’t easy for me to grab her at the right time, it was the most difficult thing to do in front of a camera."
Furdik also spoke about the scene with The Hollywood Reporter. "It was very, very difficult. We are very good friends. We know each other. It wasn't easy for me to [pretend to] hurt her," he explained. "When I grabbed her under the jaw, it wasn't easy [on a practical level]. If you make a bad move — if you don't grab her well — she could have an injury. So I was under pressure and she was under pressure. It was not an easy day."
When asked about why the Night King smirks at Daenerys during the episode, Furdik said that "she would like to bully him, and it doesn’t happen." He continued: "He throws the spear at her and I think he says, 'Go away, don’t — I don’t have the time for you. You are not for me. I don’t need to fight with you, so go.' When he throws the spear and she flies out, and he makes the smile, it’s like, 'Ah, you see? Just go, go home and stay there. Leave me alone.'"