We're coming up on a year since the fantasy mega hit Game of Thrones took its final bow on HBO. While some (OK, many) fans will never be satisfied with how the series spent its final six episodes, much less the actual finale, few of them would argue that their negative feelings about the end of the long-running show negated their love for the many brilliant moments that came before. One of those brilliant moments is sure to be the Battle of Blackwater, which was seen in the penultimate episode of Season 2. And, cinematographer Sam McCurdy, who worked on the episode, has some intriguing memories of it.
For those who worked behind the scenes on Game of Thrones, part of the gig on pretty much any episode probably included doing lots of things that led to at least some of the actors being a bit uncomfortable as they went about filming their scenes. The Battle of Blackwater was no different, as there was a lot of rain to go along with the massive battle and all the blood, gore and fire that resulted from it. Sam McCurdy has some fond memories of making actor Peter Dinklage, and many others, a bit soggy during the shoot.
Game of Thrones is one of those jobs that lives on adrenaline and the choreography of the schedule brings it to life. I’ll always remember fondly the one day that it didn’t rain so we brought in our own. It was the day Peter Dinklage gave his speech to the troops when they were readying for battle, and everyone on set was just soaked and couldn’t believe how much rain we actually ended up pouring on them on the one day it was totally dry!
I can only imagine that it was probably a pleasant surprise for Peter Dinklage and the other actors to find that it wasn't raining when they set out to shoot their Blackwater scenes that day. But, of course, the weather during the battle had to match, which means that Sam McCurdy and his team had to make it rain, and, unfortunately for Dinklage and the rest, that meant regular old water instead of dry (and useful) greenbacks.
To refresh our collective Game of Thrones memories, because Season 2 aired way back in 2012, "Blackwater" was the episode which fulfilled the confrontation that the whole season had been building to: the Baratheons vs. the Lannisters. Stannis and his forces had sailed to Blackwater Bay to take King's Landing from Joffrey (long may he reign in hell), and, even though his fleet took heavy casualties right at the beginning, much of the ensuing battle made things look like a losing proposition for the Lannisters.
The scene that Sam McCurdy is referring to involved Joffrey abandoning his troops when all appeared to be lost, and his Hand, a.k.a. Uncle Tyrion, rallying the troops before leading them to a small victory that allowed some time for help to arrive in the shape of Tywin and his forces. Feel free to refresh your memory here:
Man, you can't say that Tyrion didn't make a lot of mistakes as we followed his arc on Game of Thrones, but this was definitely a shining moment for him. Didn't he make you want the Lannisters to win? That, my friends, is the true power of good acting!
While we all know that "Blackwater" turned out to be one of several magnificent Game of Thrones episodes during the show's eight season run and led to a Supporting Actor Emmy nod for Peter Dinklage, as well as wins for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, and a British Society of Cinematographers nomination for Sam McCurdy, as could be expected, working on the episode was far from a walk in a dark, wet park. As McCurdy told Nerds and Beyond:
It was such an incredible experience working on "Blackwater." Probably one of the toughest, both physically and mentally, jobs I’ve ever done. Shooting in Northern Ireland in the winter was at times quite extreme and was one of the toughest weathers I’ve ever shot in. The wind and rain never stopped and everything about "Blackwater" was huge. The number of horses, extras, and stunts that we used every day were vast, and the whole scheduling of it was a mammoth task for the producers and ADs.
Luckily for fans everywhere, Sam McCurdy and everyone else involved in Game of Thrones was able to pull it off and bring us one of the most memorable episodes of the series, if not one of the most memorable episodes of television ever.