What’s it like to die in Game Of Thrones? Andrew Lowry tracks down the actors behind some of the (many) killed off characters to talk severed heads and blood. Warning: this is as spoilery as it gets.
Richard Madden was Robb Stark
Cause of death: Crossbow bolt and stabbed at the Red Wedding [Series 3]
"It was hard not to know what was coming – I tried to read the books from season to season, so as not to pre-empt it, but people were queuing up to tell me about it. I was in a pretty thoughtful state. Everybody there was like family to me – I saw Michelle Fairley, who played my mum, 10 times more than I saw my actual mum. It was five years of my life, from the first pilot to being killed.
"The Red Wedding took a week to shoot, it was the last thing we shot for Series 3. We had a couple of rehearsals – it was: ‘You get those arrows in your back now, you guys in the back get slaughtered, you grab that knife there,’ and so on. It was like a dance, so that when we shot it with all the effects, we all knew what we were doing.
"That said, I had this pipe that went up my leg to my chest so that when I got stabbed all the blood shoots out, but it got f*cked on the first take. It’s pressurised, and it ran down the inside of my costume, so I was drenched in fake blood for the rest of the day. That was my last day, so I got straight on the flight back to London and I was emotional as it was obviously a traumatic final scene to do. I was covered in fake blood and looked like I’d murdered somebody, and I was going to the attendant, ‘I’ll have another vodka.’
"The show did a lot for me – If I’d not done it, I wouldn’t have done Cinderella, but if I was still in Game Of Thrones, I wouldn’t have been able to do Cinderella."
Richard Madden stars in Cinderella, out now
Harry Lloyd was Viserys Targaryen
Cause of death: Molten gold poured over his head by Khal Drogo [Series 1]
"It’s great to die on screen because you can’t really overact. I kept on having to come in through the door into this Dothraki tent and act drunk, so I would sit outside the door in a chair in this big freezing cold studio. I’d raided the minibar in the hotel the night before, so I would have little nips of whisky to keep me going. Just to have the flavour in my mouth, of course."
"When it comes to the big moment, you just have to let it all go. I looked into what would happen – the gold would go into my skull, and melt the brain, and I thought about all that. You just do a bit of screaming and die.
"I’ve written and co-directed a web series called Supreme Tweeter which deals with Game Of Thrones. It’s about a version of myself, where I join Twitter and I get followed by Kim Jong-Un, who turns out to be a huge fan of the show.”
Gethin Anthony was Renly Baratheon
Cause of death: Stabbed in back by smoke monster [Series 2]
"My death was very technical. Essentially, you shoot the live action of the scene on the first day in the tent, and then at the point at which the sword goes through my chest, these chaps with a big green wall come in, do the photography, and then we do it again on a green screen. Then they create the monster and composite it on to what was captured on the original day. I can’t say I fully understand how they did it.
"My last day of filming, I was lying in state as some people came out. I remember getting emotional – you get a round of applause from the whole cast and crew. I also remember being a little hungover."
Burn Gorman was Karl Tanner
Cause of death: Sword through the back of the head courtesy of Jon Snow [Series 4]
"Karl was a mother*cker, wasn’t he? But I got to drink from a skull and call somebody a ballbag, so I was pretty happy. I had to spit in Kit Harington’s face, which you can’t do because of union rules, so they had a guy come up with this contraption that sprayed goo into his face. It was ingenious how they did the sword through my head, more of it was practical effects than you might think. Then I just did ridiculous gagging noises – you feel like a bit of a prat, to be honest."
Jason Momoa was Khal Drogo
Cause of death: Smothered by Daenerys Targaryen after being resurrected into a vegetative state following an infected knife wound [Series 1]
"It was gnarly. When I found out I was going to die, I was f*cking furious, bro. I devoured the whole first book, then I got to the end and was like, ‘What?’ I ran out of the house and went to the bookstore, I pushed people out of the way and found the second book, flicked through it and I had a hissy fit when I saw I wasn’t in it. I was like, ‘F*ck you George Martin.’ I was p*ssed, but Drogo had to die – he would have crossed the ocean and dealt with those Lannisters without breaking a sweat. It would have been a short series. My sex scene was the last thing I shot, where I walk in and Emilia’s just staring at me. I was butt naked, it was awesome. Get the old sock on the winkie and jump on in there. It was a pretty funny way to finish – I went out with a bang."
Jason Momoa’s Road To Paloma is released on DVD and Blu-ray 6 April
Esme Bianco was Ros
Cause of death: Multiple crossbow bolts from Joffrey [Series 3]
"They were gearing up for Series 3 when they got me on for a conference call, and I was, ‘Ah sh*t, they’re going to kill me.’ It was like an awkward break-up. When we shot it, it looked very realistic. I had one bolt going into my stomach and I couldn’t look at it because it was so disgusting. The thing about Jack Gleeson, who played Joffrey, is he’s a sweetheart. It’s amazing being on set with him, there’s this look that comes across his face, it’s like something changes in his eyes and you see the exact moment when he’s no longer Jack, he’s Joffrey. It’s uncanny."
Roxanne McKee was Doreah
Cause of death: Locked in a vault by Daenerys [Series 2]
"Shooting the scene where Dany locks me in was hard, a lot of emotion – Doreah was being put to death in a cold-blooded way. She was put in with Xaro, the merchant she’d stolen Dany’s dragon eggs for. Fair to say it backfired. I didn’t even have any matches to kill him and cook him and eat him. I don’t think he would have been the man she would have chosen to be locked in with, but maybe they had one for the road… There’s a deleted scene where I have these sick lines as I’m strangling a handmaiden, telling her how pleasurable it is. Doreah was so sexual, she was a lot of fun to play."
Mackenzie Crook was Orell
Cause of death: Stabbed by Jon Snow as he warged into an eagle [Series 3]
"My death was a gruelling couple of days. It was raining but not enough to show up on camera, so they had to bring in massive rain machines. We had wetsuits on under the costumes, but the rain got in pretty much immediately, and you had layers of drenched fur and leather and you were doing these fight scenes. I was knackered by the end. When I was run through with the sword, I had another ‘acting challenge’ to do as well – I had to transfer my spirit into an eagle. You just have a punt at what that might look like. Maybe they’ll bring me back as the eagle and I can do that in a motion-capture suit."
Tony Way was Ser Dontos
Cause of death: Shot with a crossbow by Littlefinger’s men after assisting in the assassination of Joffrey [Series 4]
"Quite sensibly, they don’t give us actors much information about what’s coming, because we’d just tell everyone. Shooting my death was pretty somber, both because of the atmosphere and how late and cold it was. The main chunk for me had been in Dubrovnik, in sunshine by the pool, but for my last day, I came to Belfast and they’d built this great big galleon in a car park. Nobody was more upset about it than my girlfriend, it meant no more trips to Dubrovnik. Being on the show did a great deal for me – between the second and fourth seasons I was in a Tom Cruise movie, Edge Of Tomorrow. I’m very grateful."
Sibel Kekilli was Shae
Cause of death: Strangled by Tyrion [Series 4]
“I knew I was going to die from the very beginning – and there were superfans who repeatedly reminded me of what was going to happen. So I knew it, although I originally thought that it would happen in Series 3, not 4. I am still sad. Shae really loved Tyrion – she was there, even when there was no one else, even when he married another girl. And when he called her a whore for the first time, of course with the intention to save her life, he stepped over this invisible line. She was hurt and wanted revenge. She had no other choice. At the end she had the hope to get out alive and go on with her sad life. So that’s why she also ended up in bed with one of the most powerful men in King’s Landing – and that’s what led to her death.”
Mark Addy was Robert Baratheon
Cause of death: Gored by a wild boar [Series 1]
"Killed by a boar, that was a new one for me. I remember the showrunners said they looked into showing it on-screen, but discovered wild boar aren’t easy to train. Probably for the best. It was quite nice shooting my deathbed scene with Sean Bean, as we were at drama school together and go way back. It helps if you’re familiar with somebody in real life when playing two guys with a long relationship. We did get out to Belfast for a few Guinnesses, I have to say. They wrote an extra scene for me and Lena Headey which was probably my favourite, a big seven-page scene where we talk about the war and our marriage. That wasn’t in the books, but they put it in to show what could have been. Other than that, all I say to her is, ‘Shut up, woman.’ I was like the Andy Capp of Westeros."
Game Of Thrones Series 5 starts on Sky Atlantic HD on 13 April; Series 1-4 are available on Sky Go
(Images: Sky Atlantic)