Spoilers regarding the plot for Game of Thrones Season 8 (so far) are discussed below.
The Battle of Winterfell is almost here. All of the theories, all of the possibilities are all about to come down to this Sunday, April 28 episode. Getting to this point has been exciting for fans. For those who had to film it, it was hell. Game of Thrones’ cast has opened up about the "unpleasant" and "really miserable" experience that was filming the arduous battle sequence.
Humanity will make its stand at House Stark’s ancestral home. After a poignant episode that gave a quiet nod to its characters' mortality, Game of Thrones is plunging them headfirst into its biggest battle to date. The next installment is said to feature what is believed to be TV or film's “longest consecutive battle sequence” ever.
But nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It’s night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn’t stop. You can’t get sick, and you have to look out for yourself because there’s so much to do that nobody else can do… there are moments you’re just broken as a human and just want to cry.
There are even more harrowing details surrounding the shoot. An unidentified female cast member fainted while filming a scene where Game of Thrones cast members had to stand still. One clue on her identity? She is a series regular, meaning a principal member of the show.
If none of this sounds fun, it was not. Take it from the cast. Original Game of Thrones cast member Iain Glen, who plays Daenerys Targaryen's long-time supporter Jorah Mormont, expounded on how un-fun it was:
It was the most unpleasant experience I’ve had on Thrones. A real test, really miserable. You get to sleep at 7 in the morning and when you wake in the midday you’re still so spent you can’t really do anything, and then you’re back. You have no life outside it. You have an absolute fucked bunch of actors. But without getting too method [acting] about it, on screen it bleeds through to the reality of the Thrones world.
This is going to be intense. Game of Thrones set up the quiet before the storm, and before the previous episode’s end, that quiet was just about over. A horn blew to announce to all of Winterfell that the dead had arrived.
The foreboding moments that built up the tension on-screen were equally as arduous off-screen. Rory McCann, who plays Arya Stark's tough as nails frenemy The Hound, had this to say:
Everybody prays they never have to do this again.
As it stands, there should not be another Game of Thrones-related reason for the cast to endure what they did making the upcoming episode. That ferocious process is behind them. An eighth and final season showdown is coming. One that is filled to the brim with action, adventure, and let’s face it, probably a lot of death.
Viewers have yet to see the episode that required the cast’s blood, sweat, and tears. This fan will always be grateful for everything they put into it. Behind-the-scenes, the cast’s hellacious experience led to something else. Time away from the gym. Daniel Portman, who portrays Podrick Payne, revealed to Insider:
There was a group of us that were all involved in some long nights in the cold outside. It was hard, but it was necessary to capture what we need to. I really think [it's] going to blow people away. ... So you're working all night and then you wake up in the afternoon and it's dark already. You're not really seeing the sun at all for almost three months. It was really hard. At the time, we all were going crazy. We weren't getting enough vitamin D, we weren't eating well enough, we were all weird. Nobody could go to the gym or anything — it was odd. But looking back it was strangely a very happy experience.
Prepare to be blown away! I think it will surpass expectations. The Battle of Winterfell will be a defining moment for Game of Thrones. This is the battle that Jon Snow has been talking about for seven seasons and counting. It is a fight for survival and humankind.
Will Sunday's episode be the last for the cast members quoted above? Arya seems safe. Jorah gave Daenerys a pep talk, which could have been a narrative hint, he may not make it. Scenes that bring closure are not often a good sign. However, this is Game of Thrones, so you have to reconsider the typical rule book.
Of the group, Podrick’s fate feels the most uncertain. The Hound still has to face off with The Mountain. Right? Right. So, he has to survive to fight another day. Of course, anything can happen.
Find out who survives the Battle of Winterfell when Game of Thrones continues this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.