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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
Vladimír Furdík was much more than just the Night King.
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.
"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.
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.
getting Emilia Clarke’s hair just right was a laborious process.
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.
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.
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).