Game of Thrones has been one of the biggest hit TV shows in the past few years and definitely HBO's most popular series to date. It has gained a massive following that rivals Harry Potter and the Twilight series. No one can get enough of Game of Thrones and fans are just on pins and needles having to wait for the season premiere in 2019. According to Variety, Season 7 of Game of Thrones was the show’s highest-rated yet, breaking several records in the process. The season finale was watched by 16.5 million viewers and of those, 12.1 million watched the episode as it aired, making it the most-watched episode in series history.
With so many characters and so many actors with different personalities and backgrounds, some crazy stuff went down while filming the scenes of Game of Thrones.
While we wait in anticipation for the thrilling new season to come out next year, for now, we can revisit some thrilling facts about Game of Thrones. Here are 19 things that went down behind the scenes of filming that will blow your mind. At least this will hold you over until the premiere of season 8!
WARNING! There are some spoilers ahead.
19 Peter Dinklage Was Handpicked By George RR Martin For The Role Of Tyrion Lannister
There was no casting needed for the role of Tyrion Lannister. (Although it would have been an unusual sight to see a long line of dwarfs auditioning for the role). In fact, even before the show came into being, George RR Martin always imagined Peter Dinklage in the role of Tyrion Lannister.
When it came time for showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to cast the role, no other actor was considered for the part, according to The Wrap.
The wound up winning Dinklage an Emmy for his performance in this role, and even more interesting is the fact that he almost turned it down.
"I had one hesitation, because of the fantasy genre, I told him I didn't want a really long beard and pointy shoes," Dinklage said in his Reddit AMA. "Dwarves in these genres always have this look," he told The Times. "My guard was up. Not even my guard — my metal fence, my barbed wire was up. Even 'Lord of the Rings' had dwarf-tossing jokes in it."
Before starring on Game of Thrones, he was a rising star on the horizon. He had many smaller movie roles and TV cameos: voicing a character in the Ice Age franchise, dating Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, and appearing in both the American and British versions of Death at a Funeral, according to Business Insider.
18 Emilia Clarke Wasn't The First Choice For Playing Daenerys Targaryen
Back when the first pilot for Game of Thrones was filmed, Tamzin Merchant was cast to play Daenerys Targaryen. Tamzin appears in many period pieces throughout her film career so it made perfect sense that she was the original choice. She now plays Anne Hale in Salem and also played King Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, in The Tudors. Plus, when she was younger, she played alongside Keira Knightley as Georgiana Darcy in Pride & Prejudice.
For whatever reasons that are unspecified, it just didn't work out and she was replaced by Emilia Clarke. Looking back at Tamzin's past roles, she seems like she would be the perfect ethereal, damsel in distress — which is a far cry from the Mother of Dragon's character. Daenerys is a fierce, strong, and independent character with not a delicate bone in her body.
Truly, no one could imagine anyone besides Emilia Clarke for this role, and Game of Thrones is what launched her career as an actress. Though her character may have been naive and innocent at the beginning, she transformed into a force to be reckoned with! Not that Tamzin Merchant isn't a talented actress in her own right, but it seems uncertain as to whether she could have captured that transformation as well as Emilia Clarke has done so far.
17 Fake Scenes Were Filmed During Production Of Season 7 To Confuse Internet Leakers
Whenever the time comes for the new season of Game of Thrones to kick off, there are always paparazzi capturing shots of scenes being filmed. This causes so many spoilers for fans that producers found a clever way to work around that. According to The Wrap, a few fake scenes were filmed during the production of Game of Thrones season 7 in order to confuse Internet leakers.
In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kit Harrington admitted that he had to film three different scenes, and they each took about five hours.
These were orchestrated specifically at times when they knew that the paparazzi were shooting photos for production.
Kit said to Jimmy Kimmel: "What I can say about this season is — we had a lot of paparazzi following us around, especially when we were in Spain, and we did fake some scenes. We put together people in situations where we knew the paparazzi were around so they'd take photos and that would get on the internet to fake scenes so people would think they were real."
One of the fake scenes that were filmed was one in which Jon, Daenerys, and Cersei inspect a captured Wight. That must have been a bit annoying to the actors.
16 The Furs Worn By Jon Snow And The Night's Watch Are Actually Rugs From IKEA
One of the most noticeable characteristics about the costume that Jon Snow and the Night's Watch wear are those big black feathers on their chest. In Game of Thrones, it looks like they've slain some wild medieval animals in order to give them that somber attire. In real life, those costumes are in fact constructed from black IKEA rugs.
Despite having a budget of around $10 million per episode, the show takes some creatively frugal shortcuts in its costume design, according to CNBC. Designer Michele Clapton revealed in a 2016 interview at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles that several of the plush capes worn throughout the show, including Snow's iconic fur cloak, are made from affordable IKEA rugs.
"We cut and we shaved them and added strong leather straps," she says. "I want the audience to almost smell the costumes."
Though Clapton never revealed how exactly other products were used on set, many die-hard GoT fans were taking bets on it. After this revelation went viral among fans, IKEA picked up on it and got in on the joke. IKEA then released a graphic in a pictograph style on how to transform one of its rugs into a cloak worthy of Jon Snow. It is safe to assume that it inspired many Halloween costumes.
15 The Original Scene Of Ramsay Bolton's End Was Too Gruesome To Air
HBO is not exactly known to be a G-rated channel and has had some explicit scenes that are not meant for young children. That said, the original shooting of the scene where Ramsay Bolton is finally defeated and meets his end was just too graphic even for HBO to air.
Even though many fans had a huge moment of satisfaction watching the downfall of this character done by the hands (or should we say the paws) of his own dogs, producers decided to scale that scene back.
Game of Thrones is known or its realistically gruesome scenes. In fact, that is what some people specifically tune in for. Image Engine — the company that created many of the memorable scenes for Season 6 — intended it to be even more brutal according to Variety. “They shot the scene with multiple takes,” explained Image Engine visual effects supervisor, Mat Krentz. “They did a pass of the dog on green screen, then Ramsay on green screen, and then we also had a background plate, which we put together.”
GoT fans with some morbid curiosity will forever wonder what the original take of that scene would have looked like. Knowing that Game of Thrones and its high tolerance for violence, it is safe to say that it would have been hard to watch for most people.
14 Originally, Iwan Rheon Auditioned For Jon Snow But Was Given The Role Of Ramsay Bolton Instead
Iwan Rheon made a huge name for himself playing the sadistic villain Ramsay Bolton. He did such a good job at playing that creep, that no one could imagine him as any other character. Surprisingly, he auditioned for Jon Snow originally for Game of Thrones.
While Rheon may not have gotten the part, he did make a lasting impression during his audition. When it came time to cast the show’s most malevolent character, the producers called him up to join the show in season 3, according to Time.
There were no bitter feelings on Iwan's end for the fact that he didn't land the part for Jon Snow. It is impossible for anyone to imagine anyone else besides Kit Harrington to play Jon Snow, and he agrees completely. “I think they made the right choice,” he told Interview. “It would’ve been a very different Jon Snow if I’d played him.”
Rheon even told The Telegraph in an interview: "I auditioned for the pilot of Game of Thrones and was down to the last two for Jon Snow, so I guess they knew me. But Ramsay is the complete polar opposite. In my mind, I secretly thought it was Ramsay."
13 Iwan Rheon Struggled With His Role As Ramsay Because Of How Cruel He Was
Though Ramsay Bolton was a horrible human being as his character, Iwan Rheon as the actor is actually a very sympathetic dude in real life. He even struggled with many of the scenes where Ramsay does something inhumane or sadistic.
There were some nights where he found it difficult to sleep before filming the scene, according to stuff.com.
The specific scene in what he did to Sansa on their wedding night stirred up much controversy. When he was questioned about it, his reply was: "It's not really for me to comment on. I'm an actor, I play the role. I try to do it as truthfully as possible and tell our story in the world that we have created in the most believable way," he said.
"It's really dark and horrific what happens to Sansa, but it was an inevitability in the world where cruel things happen. It's how it worked in those days and it happens in the world today, and I think that's a very important thing not to lose track of because you can go mad about a TV series but then people just ignore that it happens every day."
"The psychological [manipulation] that Ramsay put those characters [Theon and Sansa] through is absolutely horrific and so black and dark and twisted," he said.
12 Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) Quit Acting Altogether After His Character Was Written Off
Jack Gleeson will forever be remembered as Joffrey Baratheon, who was even just as, if not more, sadistic than Ramsay Bolton (though this is highly debated among GoT fans). The psycho child king had his time ruling all of Westeros and causing pain and misery for anyone who got in his way. Joffrey would even hurt people just for pleasure with no clear purpose in mind.
After Joffrey's character was written off the show in season 4, Gleeson told the Irish Independent that he plans to retire from acting when his turn on the show wraps up, saying he prefers a simple life over the glitz of Hollywood.
"It was always a recreation beforehand, but when I started doing Game of Thrones, perhaps the reality was made too real for me," Gleeson said of his acting work. "The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn't something I gravitate towards."
According to the Rolling Stone, Gleeson even copped to not watching himself on Game of Thrones, saying that the evil King Joffery is perhaps too maniacal and unredeemable for even himself to handle. "You tend to abstract yourself from the creepiness of it when you're playing it, but when you see it on television, it sends shivers down my spine."
11 Several Famous Musicians Have Appeared On GoT As Extras
There have been many famous musicians that have made cameos in Game of Thrones. However, they are disguised in medieval gear that so many fans would not even recognize them. HBO gets creative enough to just weave them in there as performing artists in the streets or small roles that interact with the main characters in just a few sentences.
The most buzzed about cameo was with Ed Sheeran appearing as a nameless Lannister soldier who welcomes Arya to his campfire group when she comes across them in the woods.
According to Time, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss revealed they had included him as a gift to Maisie Williams — who plays Arya.
“For years we were trying to get Ed Sheeran on the show to surprise Maisie and this year we finally did it,” Benioff said.
Other appearances from musicians have included: Dr. Feelgood (as a royal executioner), Snow Patrol (singing Westerosi folk song as Brienne and Jaime were captured), Coldplay (the drummer plays at the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey, AKA the Red Wedding), Sigur Rós (who played at Joffrey Lannister’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell), Mastodon (during the battle with the Night’s King), and Of Monsters and Men (when Arya is watching the Stark-Lannister saga play).
10 Carice Van Houten (Melisandre) Was Originally Asked To Audition For The Role Of Cersei
Melisandre is played by Carice van Houten, who is one of the most famous actresses to come from the Netherlands, according to Screen Rant. She has even won the Golden Calf several times, which is the Dutch version of the Emmy in her native homeland.
At first, she was asked by Game of Thrones producers to audition for the role of Cersei but she was the one who turned it down. They had envisioned her as the evil queen that would bring down Westeros with an iron fist. She turned down the audition because she wasn't in a place for a long-term commitment to a television show with her schedule. It wasn't until she saw how insane the success was with Game of Thrones that she became open to auditioning for another role. This is what led to her playing the sultry Red Soceress, Melisandre.
Out of all the roles that could have been cast onto another actress, it could be conceivable seeing Carice van Houten as Cersei, even though Lena Headey rocks it. There is something dark about both Melisandre and Queen Cersei that makes their characters do heinous things. Neither character is really seen as a protagonist on Game of Thrones, so either actress could have taken on both parts.
9 Lena Headey Had A Body Extra For Cersei's "Walk Of Atonement"
The Walk of Shame or "Walk of Atonement" is one of the most memorable scenes from Game of Thrones. This is the part where Queen Cersei is put in her place and punished for all of her wrongdoings that has been a long time coming for her. She is forced to walk in the buff down the streets. For a moment, GoT fans almost feel bad for her because this is the most degrading thing that any of the characters has ever had to endure.
It comes as no surprise that Lena Headey didn't do the scene showing her body. In fact, they used a body double to film Cersei's ultimate undoing.
Actress Rebecca Van Cleave worked closely with star Lena Headey on the gripping penance walk in season 5 finale, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“It was one of the scariest, most wonderful, most gratifying experiences I could have imagined,” Van Cleave told Entertainment Weekly. “I never in a million years would have thought I would be in Dubrovnik surrounded by hundreds of extras and crew members throwing food at me, but it was amazing.”
More than 1,000 actresses applied for the role of Headey’s double for the season’s climactic sequence, according to Entertainment Weekly.
8 According To George RR Martin, Some Fans Have Accurately Predicted How GoT Will End
Fan theories about Game of Thrones have gone viral since the show got more and more popular between the second and first season. Given the popularity of the book, it is no surprise that fans have been able to put the puzzle pieces together and predict accurately what will happen next. This requires a die-hard passion for the Game of Thrones series and a keen ability to pay attention to little details.
In fact, George RR Martin himself has admitted that "one or two" fans have put together the clues in his A Song of Ice and Fire series and correctly guessed how it will end, according to the Independent UK.
He told The Telegraph: "So many readers were reading the books with so much attention that they were throwing up some theories and while some of those theories were amusing bulls — and creative, some of the theories are right. At least one or two readers had put together the extremely subtle and obscure clues that I’d planted in the books and came to the right solution."
Though the ending is technically out there in Internet troll world, Martin said that he will still not be deviating from the original narrative path.
7 Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) Adopted Her Direwolf Dog In Real Life
Sophie Turner proved that there was indeed life after death. After her character's, Sansa Stark, direwolf, Lady, is terminated by Ned Stark after an altercation with Prince Joffrey, Sophie decided to adopt the dog that played her.
"Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one. We kind of fell in love with my character's direwolf, Lady, on set," the 17-year-old Turner told Britain's Coventry Telegraph, her hometown newspaper.
"We knew Lady died and they wanted to re-home her. My mum persuaded them to let us adopt her," she said of her Northern Inuit dog, named Zunni. (The dog's grandsons also made a cameo on the show as direwolf pups, according to the purebred's breeder.)
After the show's first season, all the Northern Inuit dogs who played the direwolves were out of work, as they were replaced by CGI-direwolves for the rest of the Game of Thrones series.
Now, it looks like her wolf brood is growing. Sophie Turner and fiancé Joe Jonas have adopted an adorable Siberian Husky puppy back in September. In an Instagram post, she posted a pictures of the puppy chewing on a stick with the caption: "Meet the newest addition to the krew @porkybasquiat." The same pic was posted on the dog's own account, with the caption: "It's not the size of the wand (stick), it's the magic within."
6 The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) Just Won World's Strongest Man Competition
Just a few days ago, The Mountain on Game of Thrones (played by Icelandic bodybuilder Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) won World's Strongest Man after being in third place in previous years. He has regularly finished in the top three for nearly a decade, but this year marks the first time he's made it to the top, according to Esquire.
While he was celebrating with his team, the powerlifter announced his glorious victory on his Instagram after being crowned the World's Strongest Man on Sunday in Manila. According to Esquire, he dominated three of the weekend's final events, which included deadlifting cars and dragging anvils around from place to place, as one does.
“It’s my passion and my dream to become the world’s strongest man,” he said in a 2016 profile in which he shared his workout secrets with The New York Times. “I would like to win the World’s Strongest Man competition, as you would win Best Writer in the World. Is that a title that exists?”
This guy is literally the human mountain. He checks in at 6-feet-9-inches and 400 pounds. This makes him the perfect brutish monster that Tyrion Lannister used in his battle fight, which saved him from being ended by his own father, Tywin Lannister.
5 Lena Headey (Cersei) And Jerome Flynn (Bronn) Used To Date, So Now There Are No Scenes With Both Of Them
Ever notice that Queen Cersei and Bronn have literally never interacted in the entire Game of Thrones series? Bronn has been the right-hand man for both Jaime and Tyrion, so it would make sense that his character would have crossed paths by now. There is a personal reason for that.
Actors Lena Headley (Cersei) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) actually used to be an item, but things really didn’t end well.
Things got so sour between them that they are no longer on speaking terms and can't even stand to be in the same room together.
In fact, it is part of their binding contract that they must be kept separate, according to Unilad UK.
It is pretty much everyone's nightmare to have to be working alongside their ex, and especially if the relationship ended on badly (which most of them do anyway). You would think that scenes and dialogue between Cersei and Bronn's characters would be interesting, but it looks like we will never know, unfortunately.
As fans of Game of Thrones, we just can't help but wonder what must have gone down between Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn. If Cersei and Bronn were to have some confrontation in their storyline, it would be art imitating life.
4 Richard Madden (Rob Stark) Had No Idea His Character Was Going To Be Terminated
It looks like Richard Madden didn't read the books before agreeing to play the character of Rob Stark. The GoT fans who have read the Storm of Swords already knew well in advance that Rob Stark's character was going to be written off, even before the actor did.
According to Access Online, when asked by one reporter why he thought that plot twist was important, Richard said it made The Red Wedding even more devastating.
“I think it was important for her to die because it’s just a full stop to that train of the story of that army,” he said. “I think it’s more tragic that there’s nothing left over from it, that there’s no possibility that Talisa’s in hiding and gonna have a baby and one day, that baby will take over as King in the North. And, you know, I think there’s something tragic about it just all being cut short instantly.”
The Red Wedding was one of the most plot-twisting scenes in Game of Thrones that left fans in shock if they have not read the book first. It looks like Richard Madden didn't exactly do his research. If he had, it would have been much less of a shock.
3 Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) Was Told That His Character Was Going To Be Ended By A Fan
Charles Dance was another GoT actor that didn't read the books while he was starring in the role of Tywin Lannister. It looks like even some of the stars of Game of Thrones even try to avoid the spoilers.
The ruthless Tywin met his end at the hands of his own son, Tyrion Lannister and he deserved it. After sentencing his son to be terminated, it seems only fitting that Tyrion finishes him off after he was released by his brother Jaime.
“I knew his demise was coming but I didn’t know how,” he told Radio Times; “I didn’t read the books. They are far too thick. They frighten me — books that thick.”
Charles claims that without the fan, he’d never have known how his character met his demise: “There was a guy in the street who came up to me and said ‘Game of Thrones, brilliant, you’ve got a great [end] scene’", according to news.com.au.
After hearing that Tywin died instantly got him to run to the nearest bookshelf to find out all the grizzly details of his character's timely ending. Many GoT fans were satisfied at the scene that marked the end of Tywin Lannister because no one wanted to see Tyrion go, so this was a better alternative.
2 GoT Has Included 10 Actors From 'Harry Potter' Movies
There is quite a long list of characters (14 to be exact) who are on Game of Thrones who also appeared in the Harry Potter series. This is hardly a shock seeing as though that British accents are a prerequisite to star on both those huge franchises. Here are a few of them:
Michelle Fairley who plays strong-willed Catelyn Stark made a brief appearance in the first part of Deathly Hallows as Hermione's mother.
Natalia Tena is known throughout the Harry Potter fandom as the amazing Nymphadora Tonks. In Game of Thrones, she plays the fearless wildling, Osha. Sadly, her character is later written off but she had her good run being loyal to Bran Stark and guiding him through his journey to be the Three-Eyed Raven.
David Bradley played Argus Filch, cruel caretaker at Hogwarts and then Walder Frey of House Frey who betrayed the Stark family. There is just something so nasty about him that both these characters portray.
Ciarán Hinds played Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus' brother and then became Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall.
Freddie Stroma played the slightly obnoxious Cormac McLaggen in Harry Potter and then showed up during the sixth season of GoT as Dickon Tarly, Sam's younger brother.
1 And 8 GoT Actors Have Appeared In 'Star Wars'
It looks like a good handful of stars on Game of Thrones went on to star in the new Star Wars Disney franchise. These actors got their big break on GoT and will keep appearing in more movies if they get Star Wars gigs too. These rising stars are just getting started.
Gwendoline Christie, who played Brienne of Tarth Christie plays the imposing Captain Phasma, the commander of the Stormtroopers who wears chrome armor — she stands at '6"3.
Keisha Castle-Hughes who played Obra Sand also played Queen Apailana in Revenge of the Sith — the newly elected queen of Naboo, who appears without dialogue during Padmé's funeral according to Fandom.
Taking it back to the old school Star Wars movies, the actor Julian Glover who plays Grand Maester Pycelle in GoT also plays General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster who plays Jojen Reed in GoT also plays Petty Officer Thanisson in The Force Awakens - the First Order conn officer who announces that there is an unscheduled departure, according to Fandom.
Emilia Clark (Daenerys Targaryen) is also slated to star in the new Han Solo anthology film, which is yet to be released. Not to mention that many of the stunt doubles in Game of Thrones also make appearances in the new Star Wars movies.
References: The Wrap, Uproxx, Buzzfeed, Tickld, unilad.co.uk, Independent UK, CNBC, The Telegraph, Time, Variety, stuff.co.nz, Rolling Stone, Screen Rant, Entertainment Weekly, Independent UK, New York Daily News, E! Online, NY Times, Access Online, news.com.au, Games Radar