Over the course of three seasons, “Game of Thrones” has said goodbye to many, many characters. But viewers were warned from the start.
Back in January 2011, when the campaign for the debut of the HBO series was building up steam to its April premiere, the show’s producers could not have been clearer about what was to come.
“A lot of people get killed,” Executive Producer David Benioff said at the time, seated at a roundtable interview alongside fellow EP D.B. Weiss. “George [R.R. Martin’s] world is a violent world — there’s a lot of killing and bloodshed and eviscerations and decapitations and there’s a lot of sex. … It’s one of the things that I loved about these books.”
Whether you read the books or not, it’s been emotional watching the exits of characters brought to life by some magnificent actors — characters we’ve invited into our homes each week, grown fond of and rooted for during the HBO run so far.
“The world they live in is cruel and George knows it better than anybody. … He allows you to get emotionally attached to these people and then, with ruthlessness, he takes them away from you. And I think, you grieve for characters, you do,” Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) told AccessHollywood.com, as she spoke about her character’s own murder at The Red Wedding, an event that aired last Sunday. “You absolutely grieve for characters.”
With everyone still a little emotional over last Sunday’s episode, Access decided to take a look back at what stars from all three seasons have said over the years about their exits.
Mark Addy On King Robert Baratheon (Season 1)
Cause Of Death: Impaled by a boar’s tusk while hunting.
On Whether Mark Knew Robert’s Fate When He Auditioned: “I didn’t. I wasn’t familiar with the books. They sent me about three or four scenes to learn for the audition and I thought, ‘This is actually really good stuff!’ Then, subsequently, [I] went and bought the book and thought, ‘This is a really good book.’ … It was great to have the opportunity of being part of something that is such a huge and beloved thing.”
On Filming His Final Scene: “We were shooting in winter the Paint Hall in Belfast, where it’s freezing. But other than that, I’m dying in King’s Landing, which is warm and temperate and I have a fever. … It’s all part of the magic. That was actually my final scene of the shoot for me. In a way, it was nice to play that last, but it was quite sad because we had such a great time shooting everything.”
Harry Lloyd On Viserys Targaryen (Season 1)
Cause Of Death: The Dothraki poured melted gold on his head to give him a “golden crown.”
On The Technicalities Of Filming His ‘Golden Crown’ Exit: “[I] had these fantastic little [packs]. They looked like they’d been made by like Boy Scouts. There was this incredible kind of smoke pack on my front, which had this kind of tube. It had two little kind of coat hangers which went over my ears… so you always had some real smoke in camera and you didn’t have to add that later. … They had this kind of incredible molded, silicon kind of gold hat, which they molded to my head, like six months before. … Paul Engelen, the makeup guy… put lots of little gold [blobs on my face], which we had to do in a bit of a hurry on the day.”
On His Feelings About Viserys’ Short Arc: “I was never too upset about [it ending]… I always knew that was the part. … It was nice to play someone beginning to end — and also the fact that it is such a death scene. I’d rather have a death scene like that than seven series of any character. If you’re gonna go, you might as well go like that!”
Sean Bean On Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark (Season 1)
Cause Of Death: Beheaded under King Joffrey’s order.
On The Emotions Behind Ned’s Final Scene: “We filmed that in Malta and there was a big crowd as well. … You can play it for the kind of sympathy vote, but then you’re signaling that there’s gonna be some head chopping off… So, as Ned, I thought, ‘I’ve had to form an alliance with someone in order to save my children’s [lives].’ I think he’s been told more or less he’ll be all right if he just admits he’s betrayed the King, the realm, and he’ll be a traitor. [The order for him to die is] just as much of a shock to him as it is to anybody else. … But, it was a wonderful moment to have the stage to yourself, as it were, and to make a speech like that. It’s kind of tragic circumstances, but it’s very enthralling, very thrilling to be acting that kind of thing.”
On The Shock Of Ned’s Death: “It comes as a shock to everybody — everybody except this young little brat that’s sat on the throne. So I thought it was a very dramatic ending, a very dramatic thing to do, to kill, I suppose I was playing the lead… and you just get killed. … I thought it was a great decision by the writers. They not only kill the King off, they kill his right hand man.”
Jason Momoa On Khal Drogo (Season 1)
Cause Of Death: After being injured in battle, he was treated by a double crossing maegi, and quickly began deteroirating. After a blood magic ceremony put him in a permanent catatonic state, he was smothered by Daenerys Targaryen, with a pillow, to free him.
How He Found Out About The Khal’s Exit: “The description of Drogo was amazing, so… [I] started reading the book… It took me four days. [When] Drogo died, I literally freaked out, set down the book, went to Barnes & Noble, bought the second book and I’m flipping through it because, of course, I’m [somehow back] in it and I was so bummed [I wasn’t]. … I was super bummed.”
On Filming His Final Scene & Seeing Daenerys Emerge From The Fire With Her Dragons: “It was super, super windy and we were gonna end up burning this place down in Malta. It was out of control. We couldn’t make the flames big enough and she’s supposed to walk into the flame and she walks back out, you just hear the earth cracking open, you just hear the sounds of the eggs opening and then she comes back out, and she’s not on fire and it happens at night. It was a bummer because I know everyone wanted to really get it in and it ends up being [shot] in the day. When I saw the dragons [on screen, months later]… I thought it was phenomenal. They looked so cool.”
Gethin Anthony On King Renly Baratheon (Season 2)
Cause Of Death: Melisandre and King Stannis Baratheon’s shadow baby stabbed him in the heart.
His First Thoughts On Reading The Script Of How They Planned To Shoot Renly’s Exit: “I was just kind of like ‘Wow! That’s kind of cool,’ ‘cause it kind of happens in such a way that you’re not really expecting it.”
On The Technicalities Of Filming The Shadow Baby Scene: “[It was] a really long day, actually. Bless Gwendoline Christie. She was in armor for hours on end. … Gwen then had to do all the fight stuff with the guards who rush in. There’s all this exciting stuff going on and basically, they just kept saying, ‘This is when this will happen.’ So I just had to kind of sort of… fall. … There would be a gentleman who would come in with like a silver ball on a stick. …. They were doing all the technical stuff. … Like a month later, I got invited to the same studio again, and there was a huge crew around, and a massive sort of green tent thing in front of which I stood. David, the director, [and I], we just sort of talked it through, about the beat and how [we] wanted [it] to happen. … I did the sound of it months later. I went into a studio and breathed over it, which was quite fun.”
Amrita Acharia On Irri (Season 2)
Cause Of Death: Strangled by Dorreah, which was not seen on screen.
On Whether She Expected Her Character’s Early Exit: “I wasn’t, because it doesn’t happen in the books. But then, you know, that’s not to say something different won’t happen just because it’s written one way in the books. … So yeah, that was a shock, but I like a good death scene.”
On Her Happiness Over Helping To Shock The Audience: “I love the fact that there’s so many twists and turns. … I think once there’s a book, people are like, ‘This is how it has to happen.’ But when it doesn’t, I think it puts people more on the edge of their seats and bit more on their toes. … I think it’s a cool thing.”
James Cosmo On Lord Commander Mormont (Season 3)
Cause Of Death: Stabbed repeatedly by Night’s Watch member Rast.
On Knowing The Expiration Date Of His Character: “I knew from friends of mine that had read the books that Lord Mormont expires at the beginning of the third book and they were following the books pretty closely… I knew that it would certainly only be three seasons, which, from my perspective, was absolutely terrific. You have all the fun of creating the character and playing it and… although it’s lovely to be working on such a great show, you’re not sort of [saying], ‘Are we going for another season and another season?’ You’re in there and it’s gonna finish at three and that’s fine. Move on to something else.”
His Thoughts On How They Wrote The Old Bear Out: “It was a well-written exit and I know that David and Dan were very keen to make the most of Lord Mormont’s death and make it as shocking as possible and it showed in the writing… It was very flattering that they thought Lord Mormont was important enough to have that — to be regarded as such.”
Michelle Fairley On Catelyn Stark (Season 3)
Cause Of Death: Had her throat slit by one of Lord Walder Frey’s sons.
On How She Found Out About Catelyn’s Murder In The Story: “I know how many years I signed for. … George and the guys, we had this conversation, and George’s saying to me was, ‘You’re going to have an incredible emotional journey to go through with this character.’ And that’s something that I relish. … And also, when you meet people, if they’ve read the books, The Red Wedding is something that chimes with a lot of the readers. It’s a monumental chapter in the books, in terms of what it does, and in terms of the slaughter and the scale of it and people are shocked by it because it’s a blatant – it’s a testament to George’s skill as an author as in like you wipe out your characters — you just wipe them out.”
On Catelyn Exiting Similarly To Ned — After Trying To Strike A Bargain To Save Her Offspring: “It’s one of those things — because they are such an honorable family. They come from very honorable families themselves and they have instilled honor in their own children as well and that’s what is important to them and that’s their religion, that’s how they have strived to bring their family [up]. But what’s interesting as well, is they’re almost too good for that world. They’re not ruthless enough. They aren’t. And it’s literally at her moment of death when she learns ruthlessness.”
Richard Madden On Robb Stark (Season 3)
Cause Of Death: Shot with arrows by Lord Walder Frey’s men and stabbed by Lord Roose Bolton.
On Filming His Exit With Longtime Acting Partner Michelle Fairley (Catelyn): “The whole episode was so operatic almost, of how the writers had placed little details throughout the whole sequence of events that happen in Episode 9. And when we shot the scene, it took a few days because it’s huge, and there’s actually a moment in the scene that [Michelle and I] look at each other and it’s Robb Stark essentially saying goodbye to his mother and giving up. … And actually, rather than it being something really bad, there’s a moment of tragedy and — and utter relief actually, because these two characters have fought, and fought, and fought, and fought, and it’s finally over and I think me and Michelle really felt that on the day — as did a lot of the crew.”
On Leaving Robb Behind: “It’s not like any other job I’ve had because you don’t close the book on that character. It’s just like you step away from him for six months and then you come straight back into his shoes, literally the same boots that you were wearing the season before — the same costume. … It was really hard shooting the end of it, but still very difficult for me to process that I’m not going back, that it is completely gone.”
“Game of Thrones” wraps up its Season 3 run on Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash