The epic final battle sequence — reported to last more that 90 minutes — incredibly marks the first time Arya Stark joins the fight against the Night King.
As the countdown to Season 8 of "Game of Thrones" continues (41 days!), we are learning more exciting details about what's to come for the final chapter.
In an exclusive first look, Entertainment Weekly takes us inside the highly-anticipated final season and the epic battle at Winterfell, which will bring the largest number of major characters together since the pilot in 2011.
The final brutal fight scene will show our "GoT" favorites, including Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and more coming together to fight the Night King and his army.
It's hard to believe this, but the battle will mark the first time our favorite badass, sword-wielding heroine Arya (Williams) will be joining in on the fight. "I skip the battle every year, which is bizarre since Arya's the one who's been training the most," she said. "This is my first taste of it. And I've been thrown in at the deep end."
The episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who previously helmed "Hardhome" and Emmy-winning "Battle of the Bastards." Sapochnik even warned Williams about how physically taxing the battle scene would be to film. (It's said it might be the longest battle sequence in cinematic history, with some saying it's 90 minutes long.) "Start training now," Sapochnik told Williams, "because this is going to be really hard."
"And I said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,'" Willaims recalled. "But nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It's night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn't stop. You can't get sick, and you have to look out for yourself because there's so much to do that nobody else can do... there are moments you're just broken as a human and just want to cry."
Williams wasn't the only veteran cast member who felt this way about the filming the scene. Iain Glen, who plays Ser Jorah Mormont, called it the "most unpleasant experience" he's had on the HBO drama.
"A real test, really miserable," he said. "You get to sleep at seven in the morning and when you wake in the midday you're still so spent you can't really do anything, and then you're back. You have no life outside it. You have an absolute f--ed bunch of actors. But without getting too method [acting] about it, on screen it bleeds through to the reality of the Thrones world." Rory McCann, who plays The Hound added, "Everybody prays they never have to do this again."
The actors weren't kidding when they said filming the wild episode was difficult. EW pointed out that "one of the show's series regular actresses" collapsed during a scene and they had to call a medic. They didn't name the star but said she had fainted and had to be sent home that day.
Sapochnik explained that he kept the actors focused in the cold temperatures (it reached the low 30s!) by having them reflect on their characters' motivations. "You're in the middle of a battle and Miguel comes up and goes, 'Why are you here?'" McCann recalled. "Why am I here? It gets you thinking. Then he'll go to another actor and go, 'What are you fighting for?'" Glenn added, "Everybody is fighting for a personal reason and Miguel [Sapochnik] tries to imbue every moment in that."
The eighth and final season took 10 months to film just six episodes. Episode 6, the climactic chapter, is directed by showrunners David Benioff and D.B Weiss. The co-creators explained that they have known "from the beginning how the show would end."
"We want people to love it," Weiss said of the series finale, which will air on May 19. "It matters a lot to us. "We've spent 11 years doing this. We also know no matter what we do, even if it's the optimal version, that a certain number of people will hate the best of all possible versions. There is no version where everybody says, 'I have to admit, I agree with every other person on the planet that this is the perfect way to do this' -- that's an impossible reality that doesn't exist. I'm hoping for the 'Breaking Bad' [finale] argument where it's like, 'Is that an A or an A+?'"
"A good story isn't a good story if you have a bad ending," Benioff added. "Of course we worry...I plan to be very drunk and very far from the internet."
"Game of Thrones" premieres April 14 on HBO.
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