Game Of Thrones season 5: what we learned from the Blu-rays
We’ve scoured the episode commentaries from the Game Of Thrones season 5 Blu-ray set - and here are 125 things we found out.
76. Filming the fighting pit training scenes, actor Iain Glen scratched his left eye which made it fill up with blood. Instead of writing that into the script, every shot of him in episodes seven and eight had to be digitally fixed in post-production.
78. Maisie Williams had to have shucking lessons to play Cat, the oyster seller. Her gloves are proper functioning gauntlets because oyster shells are really sharp.
79. The poisoned oysters that Arya sells to the Thin Man were actually mushrooms because the actor playing him is a vegetarian. The oysters Maisie Williams is eating when she spies Ser Merryn Trant for the first time were made from bits of chicken.
80. Aemon’s chamber at Castle Black doubles for Jon Snow’s office and Samwell Tarly’s chamber.
81. The paving stone that Cersei laps up water from in her prison cell was made from plastic and covered in cellophane to keep it hygienic.
82. Magheramorne Quarry in Northern Ireland is the location of the Hardhome set. They mapped it with an aerial LIDAR scan of an Icelandic beach, where plates for the sequence were filmed, and composited into the final look.
83. Everything you see in the Hardhome sequence is real up to the rocks. Originally it wasn’t going to be the four-walled set we saw. There were going to be a lot of financial restrictions on the angles they could shoot from, but extra money was petitioned for and won, so it was made into a real space.
84. The script description for Jon Snow arriving by boat to Hardhome said “He looks like George Washington crossing the Delaware, except with much better hair.”
85. Kristofer Hivju (Tormund) broke all four of the prop sticks he was given to beat the Lord of Bones to death with in episode eight.
86. When the Wildling crowd react to Jon saying that he put an arrow through Mance Rayder’s heart at the Hardhome Council, one Northern Irish supporting actress shouted “You fucking c**t!” loud and clear on every single take. It was deliberately lost in the babble.
87. Fifty stunt performers and two hundred extras worked on the Hardhome sequences for a sixteen day filming period over three weeks in a cold, rainy November. The mantra on set used to cope with the gruelling filming conditions was “Go hard or go home”.
88. To keep the extras happy during the Hardhome filming, jokes about who was next to die and how were told over the PA system, until it became waterlogged and broke.
89. Stunt performer Andy Pilgrim broke his ankle filming the Hardhome sequence where the fence is forced down by the invading Wight army.
90. The director of Hardhome, Miguel Sapochnik, used Spielberg’s Jaws as a reference for the attack. The idea was to make it like a scene from a horror movie, instead of an action or battle movie.
91. A moment from 1950s film The Ten Commandments before the Red Sea is parted by Moses was borrowed to signify the start of the Wight Army attack, when the clouds drop down from the sky and touch the water.
92. The Wights that fall off the cliff, then get up and keep coming were not CG but extras who actually walked off the cliff into a box rig.
93. Stunt performer extraordinaire Vladimir Furdik played the Wight that Jon Snow fights in the longhouse at Hardhome. The contact lenses he was wearing reduced his vision to twenty percent. His look was achieved entirely through prosthetics, not with CGI.
94. In the original Hardhome script, Wun-Wun the giant used a whale bone as a weapon, but it was later changed to a log. Why? “Because Wun-Wun prefers logs” say the showrunners.
95. The waves on the sea at Hardhome were created half from plates filmed at a beach in Iceland and half by a dinghy driving around and around at high speed before every take to stir up the water.
96. Ian Whyte played Wun-Wun the giant, who was filmed at thirty frames per second as opposed to the twenty-four frames per second used for everyone else to enable them to play back his movements fractionally slower. His scale is forced simply by adjusting the camera angle.
97. The scene of Wun-Wun breaking out of the longhouse was filmed over three days and included a heavy photographic element, using half-scale models on a green-screen stage.
98. To create the sequence of Wights crawling over Wun-Wun’s back, they built a wooden structure called the “Christmas Tree” which was pulled along on ropes and on top of which stunt performers in grey suits clambered.
99. Ian Whyte waded through a water tank in hip waders with 10lb weights tied to his ankles to get the reference material for the sequence of Wun-Wun entering the water.
100. The sequence of Jon and the others running to the boats was filmed on a golf cart driving after them, with Wun-Wun’s reference material filmed on a treadmill.
101. For obvious reasons, most of the supporting actors in the boat sequence are wearing immersion suits underneath their costumes.
102. An average VFX-heavy feature film will usually have a forty to fifty week post-production schedule for a two to three hour finished product. Game Of Thrones has fifteen weeks to generate ten hours of footage.
103. The Wight with the arrow through his head became known as “Steve Martin” in post-production, in reference to Martin’s famous comedy prop.
104. Kit Harrington does most if not all of his own stunts. When Jon Snow falls off the deck and onto the floor when fighting that Wight, Harrington did that for real on a wire.
105. The Night King’s look was achieved using silicon prosthetics aided by half an inch of “digital ice”.
106. The Wight boy who leads the attack on Wildling Karsi was in fact a 23-year-old man previously used as a stand-in for Peter Dinklage’s character. As an adult, he could legally work longer hours than a child.
107. In episode nine, The Dance Of Dragons, a dead horse carcass prop seen at Stannis’ camp was taken from Ridley Scott film Exodus: Gods And Kings.
108. The exterior shot of the Iron Bank of Braavos was a local church that they weren’t allowed to actually walk inside of. When Arya watches Ser Merryn and the others walk in and out, they’re just faking it.
109. Although it has yet to feature in A Song Of Ice And Fire, George R.R. Martin has confirmed that it was always his intention for Stannis and Melisandre to sacrifice Shireen to the God of Light.
110. When the Fighting Pits scene was filmed in Spain, Game Of Thrones season one had just arrived on Spanish TV and so there was enormous public interest everywhere they filmed, including the bull ring used as the Fighting Pit.
111. Iain Glen’s seven-year-old daughter came on set for episode nine and the make-up artists did her up with fake cuts and bruises so she could be the same as her dad’s character, Jorah.
112. When Drogon arrives at the Fighting Pits, he burnt nineteen bodies, which is a record for the number of full body burns carried out in one day.
113. In the episode nine script, Stannis’ silent realisation that he was going to lose to the superior size of the Bolton army was called his FTW, or 'Fuck The World' moment.
114. Originally, Stephen Dillane had several lines in the scene when Brienne takes her revenge on him but they were all cut when his performance carried it all. “Go on, do your duty” is the only one he needed.
115. Brienne does 100% kill Stannis in that scene. The only reason they didn’t show him actually dying was to avoid being gratuitous.
116. Episode ten, Mother’s Mercy, was costume designer Michele Clapton’s swan song on the show. She’s not returning for season six.
117. The bloody scene in which Arya kills Ser Merryn Trant was influenced by the work of Quentin Tarantino. They don’t say which work, but still.
118. The character of Myranda, Ramsay’s mistress, was written especially for Charlotte Hope after she impressed the showrunners on hire as a day player. Indira Varma, Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmanuel’s characters, Ellaria, Grey Worm and Missandei, were also expanded because of how much the showrunners liked their performances.
119. The poison-covered handkerchief that Ellaria Sand throws away after sending Myrcella to her grave is CGI because the real one just landed in the sea with a plonk and didn’t flutter away attractively.
120. When Maisie Williams wears Arya’s blind contact lenses, she really can’t see anything.
121. When Emilia Clarke is acting against Drogon in episode ten, she’s really talking to a giant, green, stuffed pickle.
122. The reason Drogon could be so badly injured in the Fighting Pits is that he’s just an adolescent dragon. His impenetrable adult scales haven’t come in yet, the poor thing. If you want to know how big a fully grown dragon is, look at the dragon skull Arya hides in in season one.
123. Lena Headey’s body double for Cersei’s walk of shame is Rebecca Van Cleave. They filmed Headey and Van Cleave walking the route and digitally swapped the head in. Headey was pregnant at the time of filming, and feels that she wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on conveying Cersei’s emotions had she really been naked.
124. The actor who plays young Olly in Castle Black, Brenock O’Connor, is nicknamed “Baby Tom Hanks” on set.
125. The blood leaking from Jon Snow in the season’s final shot wasn’t CGI, but a physical blood bag. Look closely at Kit Harrington’s eyes and you’ll see them dilate at the precise moment Jon dies. That’s right. He’s definitely a goner.
Game Of Thrones season 5 is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital release on Monday the 14th of March, 2016.