10 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets We Learned About Game of Thrones From The Last Watch

The Night King actor Vladimir Furdik prepares for a scene on the set of Game of Thrones
The Night King actor Vladimir Furdik prepares for a scene on the set of Game of Thrones
HBO

Game of Thrones may have sadly come to an end, but fans are still clamoring for more information and behind-the-scenes details. Despite many poor reviews and fan complaints regarding the eighth and final season, that doesn’t change the fact that the HBO series has been a part of our lives for nine years now. Which is why so many fans don't seem ready to say goodbye just yet.

So it goes without saying that fans were excited when HBO announced that Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, a documentary that took viewers behind the scenes of season 8 to give an in-depth overview of the many challenges the show's cast and crew faced in putting together the final season. Here are 10 things we learned from the two-hour special.

  1. They had to build King’s Landing in Its entirety.

As the final season of Game of Thrones showed Daenerys Targaryen burning King’s Landing to the ground, the crew had to literally build the capital city in order to then tear it down. Instead of shooting in Dubrovnik, the Croatian city that usually stands in for King's Landing, the production team built King’s Landing from the ground up on in empty backlot at Titanic Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It took seven months to build the city, just to then demolish it.

  1. Kit Harington was not prepared to learn that Jon would kill Daenerys.

Unlike most of his co-stars, Kit Harington didn’t read the full season 8 script before the first full table read. So when the cast got to the scene in the final episode where Jon Snow fatally stabs Daenerys, Harington's reaction—which we got to see in the documentary—was absolutely authentic. Visibly shocked, Harington put his hands on his head and quickly shot back in his chair. Looking up at Emilia Clarke, Harington was met with a nod from his co-star.

Harington wasn’t the only actor who reacted strongly to their character’s big scene: Conleth Hill, who played Lord Varys, tossed his script when they reached his final scene, which ended with him being burned alive by Drogon.

  1. The production needed a lot of snow, which is where Del Reid, the team's "head of snow," came in.

Lots of Season 8 action took place in Winterfell, so you can imagine the amount of fake snow the production team needed. The documentary introduced fans to Del Reid, Game of Thrones's "Head of Snow," whose job was to make sure each scene had enough of the white stuff. Funnily enough, he revealed that the snow was made of just paper and water.

  1. Daenerys meeting Samwell for the first time was the first scene filmed for season 8.

The first scene shot for the final season was Daenerys’s original meeting with Samwell Tarly. In the premiere episode of season 8, “Winterfell,” the Mother of Dragons and Jorah Mormont meet Sam at the library in Winterfell, where Daenerys is forced to inform him that she executed his father and brother. (Awkward!)

  1. Vladimír Furdík was much more than just the Night King.

Vladimír Furdík plays the Night King in Game of Thrones season 8HBO

Many fans know that the man who portrayed the Night King, Vladimír Furdík, was originally a stuntman on the series. What we didn’t know was just how much behind-the-scenes work Furdík continued to do while also portraying the character.

Explaining that he has been a stunt actor for more than 30 years, Furdík recalled being asked to play the undead leader. “I didn’t hear ‘Night King,’ I just heard ‘king,’ and I said ‘I can be any king,’” he remembered. He worked with a variety of actors over the seasons, teaching them how to perfect their fight scenes, and even choreographed the highly-anticipated Cleganebowl.

  1. "Tiger toast" was a popular on-set snack.

During filming, the cast and crew often grabbed food from Leigh McCrum's coffee truck, which was located right outside set. McCrum revealed a surprising concoction that was very popular with the Game of Thrones team: “tiger toast” or, as McCrum also called it, a "fully loaded toastie." This sandwich included bacon, chicken, cheese, ham, tomatoes, onions, and tobacco onions, all on tiger bread. She explained that she used to try to get healthier options, but the cast and crew really just wanted anything that could keep them going through all the strenuous shoots.

  1. The visual effects team essentially lived on the set during season 8.

The documentary took us inside the visual effects team, specifically Barrie and Sarah Gower, a husband and wife team who own their own prosthetic makeup design company called BGFX. Sarah explained that when they first got the job on Game of Thrones, they didn’t even have a crew or workshop yet. Since then, the prosthetics makeup team has won three Emmys for the series, and for season 8, they basically lived on set.

One scene showed Sarah getting emotional because she hadn’t seen their daughter for a couple of months, which made it all the more heartfelt when their daughter was able to visit the set and even got to play a wildling in the final episode.

  1. getting Emilia Clarke’s hair just right was a laborious process.

Helen Sloan/HBO

Daenerys is obviously known for her long, flowing, white-silverish hair. And even when Clarke dyed her hair nearly the same color, her hair and makeup routine didn’t change much for the final season. The actress still had to arrive in the early hours of the morning to have a cap put on her head before Dany's wig was added, as absolutely no roots could be showing. The documentary took us inside Clarke’s last day putting on the now-iconic wig. "Is there any part of you that's a bit relieved?" she asks her hair person. "Do you know what I mean? Not in a 'Ah! Thank f*** that's over,' but as in ... like a, 'Ahh, right. That's one thing I don't need to panic about anymore. ... There's definitely an exhale of breath. ... It's kind of exciting to think, 'Oh! Who am I without this?' I wonder." She had previously shared that putting on the Daenerys wig made her feel so powerful, still much different from how she felt when she dyed her hair blonde in real life.

  1. The cast and crew got festive.

Among the many Thrones posters, T-shirts, coffee cups, and more on set, the cast and crew even had a Christmas tree in theme with the show. Their ornaments included a naked Barbie doll imitating Cersei Lannister’s Walk of Atonement, a ball with an illustration of a “Sansa Clause” on it, and other funny takes on the show’s characters.

  1. The show went to great lengths to ensure secrecy.

We were expecting the final season of Game of Thrones to be the most secretive yet, and although leaks of the episodes still got out eventually, the cast and crew really did go all in as far as throwing fans off the scent while shooting. The documentary revealed that Tom Wlaschiha, who played Jaqen H'ghar; Faye Marsay, who played the Waif; and even Vladimír Furdík, who played the Night King, were all asked to come out to Spain while they were filming the Dragon Pit scene, just to confuse people.

Additionally, extras did not find out what they were filming until the day of for the final season, and episodes had alternate names. For example, “The Last of the Starks” was called “The Faith of Angels.” And as you would expect, physical copies of the scripts were quickly shredded after table reads (although director David Nutter—who directed half the season—had paper scripts while shooting).

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

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Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

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Video games

Sony

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Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

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Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

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Beats/Amazon

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HBO/Amazon

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Amazon

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Casper/Amazon

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Ganni/Amazon

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12 Spirited Facts About How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Each year, millions of Americans welcome the holiday season by tuning into their favorite TV specials. For most people, this includes at least one viewing of the 1966 animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Adapted from Dr. Seuss’s equally famous children’s book by legendary animator Chuck Jones, How the Grinch Stole Christmas first aired more than 50 years ago, on December 18, 1966. Here are 12 facts about the TV special that will surely make your heart grow three sizes this holiday season.

1. Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel And Chuck Jones previously worked together on Army training videos.

During World War II, Geisel joined the United States Army Air Forces and served as commander of the Animation Department for the First Motion Picture Unit, a unit tasked with creating various training and pro-war propaganda films. It was here that Geisel soon found himself working closely with Chuck Jones on an instructional cartoon called Private Snafu. Originally classified as for-military-personnel-only, Private Snafu featured a bumbling protagonist who helped illustrate the dos and don’ts of Army safety and security protocols.

2. It was because of their previous working relationship that Ted Geisel agreed to hand over the rights to The Grinch to Chuck Jones.

After several unpleasant encounters in relation to his previous film work—including the removal of his name from credits and instances of pirated redistribution—Geisel became notoriously “anti-Hollywood.” Because of this, he was reluctant to sell the rights to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, when Jones personally approached him about making an adaptation, Geisel relented, knowing he could trust Jones and his vision.

3. Even with Ted Geisel’s approval, the special almost didn’t happen.

By Al Ravenna, World Telegram staff photographer - Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Whereas today’s studios and production companies provide funding for projects of interest, television specials of the past, like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, had to rely on company sponsorship in order to get made. While A Charlie Brown Christmas found its financier in the form of Coca-Cola, How the Grinch Stole Christmas struggled to find a benefactor. With storyboards in hand, Jones pitched the story to more than two dozen potential sponsors—breakfast foods, candy companies, and the like—all without any luck. Down to the wire, Jones finally found his sponsor in an unlikely source: the Foundation for Commercial Banks. “I thought that was very odd, because one of the great lines in there is that the Grinch says, ‘Perhaps Christmas doesn’t come from a store,’” Jones said of the surprise endorsement. “I never thought of a banker endorsing that kind of a line. But they overlooked it, so we went ahead and made the picture.”

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas had a massive budget.

Coming in at over $300,000, or $2.2 million in today’s dollars, the special’s budget was unheard of at the time for a 26-minute cartoon adaptation. For comparison’s sake, A Charlie Brown Christmas’s budget was reported as $96,000, or roughly $722,000 today (and this was after production had gone $20,000 over the original budget).

5. Ted Geisel wrote the song lyrics for the special.

No one had a way with words quite like Dr. Seuss, so Jones felt that Geisel should provide the lyrics to the songs featured in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

6. Fans requested translations of the “Fahoo Foraze” song.

True to his persona’s tongue-twisting trickery, Geisel mimicked sounds of classical Latin in his nonsensical lyrics. After the special aired, viewers wrote to the network requesting translations of the song as they were convinced that the lyrics were, in fact, real Latin phrases.

7. Thurl Ravenscroft didn’t receive credit for his singing of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

The famous voice actor and singer, best known for providing the voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, wasn’t recognized for his work in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Because of this, most viewers wrongly assumed that the narrator of the special, Boris Karloff, also sang the piece in question. Upset by this oversight, Geisel personally apologized to Ravenscroft and vowed to make amends. Geisel went on to pen a letter, urging all the major columnists that he knew to help him rectify the mistake by issuing a notice of correction in their publications.

8. Chuck Jones had to find ways to fill out the 26-minute time slot.

Because reading the book out loud only takes about 12 minutes, Jones was faced with the challenge of extending the story. For this, he turned to Max the dog. “That whole center section where Max is tied up to the sleigh, and goes down through the mountainside, and has all those problems getting down there, was good comic business as it turns out,” Jones explained in TNT’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas special, which is a special feature on the movie’s DVD. “But it was all added; it was not part of the book.” Jones would go on to name Max as his favorite character from the special, as he felt that he directly represented the audience.

9. The Grinch’s green coloring was inspired by a rental car.

Warner Home Video

In the original book, the Grinch is illustrated as black and white, with hints of pink and red. Rumor has it that Jones was inspired to give the Grinch his iconic coloring after he rented a car that was painted an ugly shade of green.

10. Ted Geisel thought the Grinch looked like Chuck Jones.

When Geisel first saw Jones’s drawings of the Grinch, he exclaimed, “That doesn’t look like the Grinch, that looks like you!” Jones’s response, according to TNT’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas Special: “Well, it happens.”

11. At one point, the special received a “censored” edit.

Over the years, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been edited in order to shorten its running time (in order to allow for more commercials). However, one edit—which ran for several years—censored the line “You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch” from the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Additionally, the shot in which the Grinch smiles creepily just before approaching the bed filled with young Whos was deemed inappropriate for certain networks and was removed.

12. The special’s success led to both a prequel and a crossover special.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Given the popularity of the Christmas special, two more Grinch tales were produced: Halloween is Grinch Night and The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat. Airing on October 29, 1977, Halloween is Grinch Night tells the story of the Grinch making his way down to Whoville to scare all the Whos on Halloween. In The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat, which aired on May 20, 1982, the Grinch finds himself wanting to renew his mean spirit by picking on the Cat in the Hat. Unlike the original, neither special was deemed a classic. But this is not to say they weren’t well-received; in fact, both went on to win Emmy Awards.