Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has given the New York Times an inside look as to what filming that blazing battle sequence at the end of this week’s ‘Game of Thrones‘ was like.
‘The Loot Train Battle‘, as the producers are somewhat lamely calling it, saw Drogon torch the living shit out of the Lannister army, reducing men to ash in seconds. The camera followed Jaime (Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) through the total chaos of a medieval-style battle with a Napalm-style dragon, and from the sounds of this, filming the scene was almost as intense as the final product.
Speaking to the NY Times, Coster-Waldau said:
“I loved it, because even though it’s not as big when we shoot it, it’s still big. You have the whole wagon train. You have all the explosions going off. You’re on horseback. It is quite exhilarating, to be honest. When you see the Dothraki riders, the skill level is insane! Because they do it. It’s in-camera. It’s not C.G.I. They jump up on those horses. They shoot a bow and arrow while standing up on horseback, galloping, on a field that is not even. It’s rough terrain, by the way. And they didn’t fall off. They didn’t have any injuries.”
So the stuntmen are actual horse-lords, you say? I believe it.
But not Coster-Waldau, apparently.
“There’s this weird thing that happens when the word “action!” gets yelled out — you have to fool yourself. For that minute, I have to fool myself into thinking that this is really happening. That it’s real. Jaime Lannister would never worry for a second about falling off a horse, so you can’t think too much about it. I mean, I worry about it after, but I don’t worry about it during the take. Or I try not to, anyway.”
The scene ended with Jaime drowning, having been narrowly saved from dragon fire by Bronn (or someone who looks very much like him, anyway).
Apparently those few seconds of drowning took an entire day to film, and sounds absolutely nightmarish; Coster-Waldau says his inability to equalise properly made him sick afterwards.
“You have to go down, you have to equalize the pressure, and I’m not very good at that. It was just a tough, tough day. Also, as you can imagine, because you can’t see anything when you go underwater, you depend on these divers to come to you when you signal, and you always want to have the feeling that you can escape if something happens. But because of the armor, I couldn’t. Once I let go, I couldn’t do anything. It was a great test of what level of claustrophobia I have, which turned out to be quite high. [Laughs] It’s funny, because it’s all in your mind. In my mind, I know safety is paramount and people are ready, but when you can’t see, and you can’t move, and you feel the pressure of the water? It was … absolutely disgusting, to be honest. But it looks amazing!”
The scene took three weeks to film, and set a record for setting the most men on fire 20. The BTS footage released by HBO yesterday went deep into how they managed to film it – hearing stuntmen talking about “holding their breath” and “keeping calm” while literally being on fire and pretending to be in serious pain is next level weird.
Coster-Waldau also gave a few insights into Jaime that make it seem like he will almost definitely be surviving this drowning, however impossibly that seems.
“I don’t think Jaime ever thought Tyrion [murdered Joffrey], but he didn’t know that he didn’t, if that makes sense. I don’t think he believed it. But they didn’t know who did it. And it raises a question of who can he trust?
“Will it change anything? Will he ever get a chance to tell Cersei about it? Jaime’s always been on the fringe of this whole game of thrones, if you will. I think he’s getting to the place where he’s questioning, What’s the point of all this? Power for the sake of power?”
It seems extremely weird – and a bit pointless – to be asking these questions if his character wasn’t about to try and answer them. And besides, IMDb might’ve just spoiled the whole cliffhanger anyway.
Have a read of Coster-Waldau’s full interview here.