HBO aired the two-hour making-of special, recording the end of ‘Game of Thrones’ from the viewpoint of its creators and through the lens of documentarian Jeanie Finlay. From Kit Harrington’s big finale reaction to those bizarre makeup jobs, there’s ample for Thrones fans to grip over. So here are just eight of our favorite moments from The Last Watch.
1. Thrones used A-list cast members as press (and fan) decoys
Thrones fans are a creative and smart group. So much so, that the show started sending its actors to places where they weren’t shooting to throw theorists off their tail. The most important smoke and mirrors act? The filming of Tyrion’s nomination of Bran as King in King’s Landing’s dragon pit in Season 8, episode 6.
To make sure fans would not pick up on any significant details, The Waif (Faye Marsay), Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), The Night King (Vladimir Furdik), and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) all came to location in Spain where the scene was set to be shoot, despite not appearing anywhere near the final product. (Especially, neither Marsay nor Wlaschiha come out in Season 8 at any point.)
“It’s weird, I’ve come out basically as a decoy,” laments Harrington as he tags along in a crew van. “It feels weird being here and not actually filming.“
2. Designers spent seven months building King’s Landing, just to blow it up
Thrones’ production designer and art director Deborah Riley worked untiringly with her team over the course of seven months to make the final set for Dany’s renowned rampage — only to blow it up for the cameras after a few days of filming.
“It’s very early to blow this up it feels,” notes episode director Miguel Sapochnik, as he and Riley wander the IRL King’s Landing.
“I know! It really bothers me,” says Riley. “It’s like, wait a minute, what did we approve? Should’ve at least had Cersei going down for lunch once or twice or something.”
Moments later, the pyrotechnics team goes through with the arrangement, lighting the thrilling set ablaze to ape Drogon’s demolition. It’s an amazing accomplishment of craftsmanship and commitment, made even more stunning by its unexpected destruction.
3. Emilia Clarke shared a very special bond with the wig department
The Khaleesi doesn’t create the wig, but the wig sure can make the Khaleesi.
Throughout The Last Watch, fans are treated to a behind-the-scenes look at Emilia Clarke’s training process, with particular importance put on her rapport to Daenerys’ iconic hair. As Clarke noted in her Instagram post saying goodbye to Thrones, the ever-evolving “wig of dreams” played a huge part in creating the legendary Queen.
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Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me. The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart. I’ve sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice. Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor and as a human being. I just wish my darling dad was here now to see how far we’ve flown. But to you, dear kind magical fans, I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we’ve made and what I’ve done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams. Without you there is no us. And now our watch has ended. @gameofthrones @hbo #love #motherofdragonsoverandout
Each day of shooting, Clarke would meet Thrones’ hair supervisor Candice Banks at the wig department’s stationing area — sometimes as early as 3 a.m. — to start putting on her platinum locks.
“When you put that on, it’s just an instant whoa,” Clarke says, donning a bald cap in preparation. “My heart is in my throat when I think about this not happening much longer.“
4. “Dead” extras couldn’t breathe during the Battle of Winterfell
While shooting the long-awaited Battle of Winterfell, Thrones’ major stars may have been the ones feeling the most stress — but it was the scene’s supporting players who were left holding their breath.
Because of the low temperatures while filming close to Belfast, Battle of Winterfell extras and stuntmen who had been “killed” during the episode’s grand battle were instructed to not breathe during shooting, lest their cold exhales be seen on-screen, crushing the delusion of their recent hazard.
“Background and stunts, until the moment we yell cut, you need to hold your breath, but also not breathe out,” a voice on the PA can be heard saying. “It’s gonna be amazing. If anybody dies, let me know.” Remarkably, the same applied to Iain Glenn as he and Clarke acted out the heart-wrenching final moments between Jorah and Dany. Talk about an acting challenge.
5. That coffee cup probably came from a super nice lady named Leigh
After so-called Cupgate, Thrones fans carry on to look for answers. Unluckily, The Last Watch fails to definitively point the finger at any particular individual — but it does disclose where that cup of coffee likely came from.
Leigh McCrum, the pleasant food truck owner behind Thrones’ sustenance, can be seen throughout The Last Watch selling sandwiches, ice pops, and lots of coffee to crew and cast members. She’s a warm, friendly presence, reveling in the cinematic magic of catering the largest show in TV history.
As for the constant inquiry, each cup McCrum sells puts on that same logo seen in Episode 4, originally mistaken for a Starbucks logo. Was it an effortless accident or the utmost branding stunt known to Westeros? It’s hard to say, but if anyone has the answer, it’s Leigh.
— ♉️ (@_alexalexalex) May 6, 2019
6. Episode 2’s iconic Dany and Jon scene wasn’t quite as magical IRL
Dany and Jon’s romantic dragon getaway may have been one of Season 8’s most romantic moments, but the energetic was remarkably less relaxing on set. As seen in the doc, not only did Harrington and Clarke have to emote at a massive green square while toughing the harsh Icelandic weather, they also had to make out while pretending to hear nearby dragons.
“Move to your right a little bit, Emilia,” prompts Thrones director David Nutter over intercom, as Jon and Dany kiss in the snow. “And growl.”
Yup. That splendid ruh-roh shot of Jon reacting to Drogon and Rhaegal’s condemnation was stirred by an emphatically delivered “growl” from David Nutter. Movie magic, people. It’s wonderful.
7. The Night King (aka Vladimir Furdik) is just the sweetest guy ever
A shining but lesser known star in the Thrones-verse, Vladimir Furdik is the stuntman-turned-actor behind the late Night King. The Last Watch offers fans an opportunity to get to know the usually quiet star — and good congenial, if he isn’t a complete pleasure.
Walking us through the magic of makeup, the particulars of stunt work, and the awesome nature of reputation, Furdik is the most important stature in the doc. Amusing, enthralled, and pleased to be there, he is the polar opposite to everything you thought The Night King would be.
In one scene, Furdik, serving as a press decoy in Spain, carefully approaches a crowd of fans. “You know who I am, yes?” Furdik asks, his thick Slovakian accent hardly masking his uneasiness.
Immediately, the crowd explodes with cries of “The Night King!” and begins begging for autographs. Furdik’s face lights up, and he keenly begins signing merchandise and posing for pictures. It’s a moment of pure magic, fit only for the one true King.
8. Game of Thrones’ real MVP? Iconic extra Andy McClay
Of all the big reveals in The Last Watch, none are quite as beautiful as the overdue honoring of Andy McClay.
McClay, an Irish actor and diehard Game of Thrones fan, served as an extra on the show for numerous seasons, most recently appearing as a member of Jon Snow’s guard during the finale. Following Harrington’s goodbye speech to the crew, McClay offered his thoughts on the end of an era directly to camera
“I’m choking up here, man,” McClay says. “Honestly. It’s what Kit was saying. Even though, I’m just an extra, in comparison to him being the main star, it really has changed my life. I didn’t think I was going to get this emotional. It has. It really has. The past five years have been the best five years of my life.“
Devoted and fanatical, McClay served as a necessary backbone to the series, stressing just how much the making of Thrones was a true team effort. Now, as made obvious in The Last Watch, he serves as a Game of Thrones trip guide in Belfast, screening fans still not prepared to move on where the magic really happened.
Where is internationally critically acclaimed 8 season extra Andy McClay and is he doing ok and does he need anything pic.twitter.com/eWNOefoELR
— gabrielle rza (@gabriellemrza) May 27, 2019