17 Fascinating Game Of Thrones Backstage Facts

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1. The Pilot Was So Poor The Show Almost Didn’t Air

The show was very nearly dropped altogether after the original Pilot episode was given a tepid response from HBO. Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, told the MailOnline: “Apparently the pilot was fairly bad. We had to reshoot basically all of it because it was really bad. We thought it was great [but] apparently HBO almost said no [to the series].”

Tamzin Merchant and Jennifer Ehle were replaced by Emilia Clarke and Michelle Fairley to play Daenerys Targaryen and Catelyn Stark respectively, and after the reshoot, the Pilot was aired.

2. Benioff And Weiss Were Trusted After Guessing Jon’s Mother

Before the show was even in production, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss first had to meet with George R.R. Martin to pitch their vision for the show. Understandably, Martin needed to know he could trust these two men with his enormous project.

Weiss told Collider: “He asked us, “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?” We had discussed it before, and we gave a shocking answer. At that point, George didn’t actually say whether or not we were right or wrong, but his smile was his tell. We knew we had passed the Wonka test, at that point.”

3. The Show Boosted NI’s Economy By $100m

Looking at the picture above it’s tough to believe that it’s on this planet, let alone sitting on the coast of Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is just one of the nation’s jaw-dropping beauty spots, and while it hasn’t featured in Thrones, plenty of Northern Ireland has.

Filming has taken place in castles and stunning natural surroundings across the whole region, and it’s thought that Thrones’ presence has injected $100 million into the Northern Irish economy, with tourists traveling in from far and wide to get a glimpse of their favorite locations.

4. The Same Fighters Are Used Throughout

The Unsullied, Men of the Night’s Watch, and the City Watch are just three types of soldier in Westeros and beyond, yet they make up a microscopic proportion of the number of soldiers in the realm.

Those particular three groups are unlikely to meet anytime soon (if ever), though the men beneath the helmets tend to be the same. So when you see an unsullied warrior wiping out a slaver, you could see the same man a minute later being cut down by a white walker, then just as quickly guarding Cersei during a tense courtroom scene.

5. Actors Kept On Their Toes

To keep the extras and actors on their toes, unconventional methods were deployed to get everyone fired up and ready for the scene ahead.

Bobby Holland Hanton, a stuntman on the show, told The Huffington Post: “Sometimes just before a take they’ll knock a weapon out of someone’s hand, so they’ve got to quickly pick it up before they call action.”

6. Emilia Clarke Got Stuck To A Toilet

Just watching Daenerys wolf down a stallion’s heart was enough to put the entire Game of Thrones audience off food for a lifetime, but imagine being Emilia Clarke on that day?

As if munching on a gelatinous glob of gloop wasn’t enough, she told Jimmy Kimmel: “It [the blood] kind of just stays sticky for quite a long time and then there was a moment when we were filming it that I disappeared, um, and I was stuck to the toilet.”

7. The Golden Crown Mixture

Have you ever found yourself wondering: “How can I produce a molten gold crown designed to savagely murder my brother-in-law?” Khal Drogo has.

The Dothraki warlord’s execution of Viserys Targaryen was quite sensational and Harry Lloyd, the actor behind the latter, opened up on Reddit about how it all came to work: “So ingredients include a big bowl of gold-gelatinous-paint, a smoke machine, strapped to my chest, a nice gold cap molded to the shape of my head, a bit of CGI, and some sound FX.”

8. Each Wig Is Made From 2ft Of Human Hair

Sticking with the Targaryen theme, many people are still unnerved to see Emilia Clarke wandering the streets with her brunette locks as opposed to her iconic white blonde.

Her wig, and many others on the show, are crafted from two feet of human hair, and designed specifically for her character at a cost of around $7,000 per item. Thankfully Varys’ hair bill somewhat balances out the cost.

9. Oberyn Wore His Costume At Home

Pedro Pascal’s time on Game of Thrones was all too short, with Prince Oberyn finished off in the most horrific, literally mind-blowing fashion. But hey, at least he was comfy on set.

Speaking during a HBO Q&A session, Pascal said: “It was like putting the skin of the character onto my body. I took my mock robe home, and I walk around my apartment with it on sometimes.” And by the look of it, he’s got the right idea. Dressing gown, anybody?

10. The Night’s King Killed Batman’s Parents

Zipping North of the Wall, we’ve seen the sheer power of the Night’s King, his army of white walkers and their lesser-wights, but you’ve almost certainly seen him somewhere before, you just don’t realize it.

Richard Brake is the man beneath the CGI and prosthetic, but strip all of that away and you could recognize him as Joe Chill, the man who kills Bruce Wayne’s parents in Batman Begins. The film also contains a young Joffrey back before he started his reign of tyranny.

11. Hodor Is Gay In Real Life

There are countless anecdotes and interesting facts about basically every actor and actress on the show, but one man who we really don’t understand at all in the show is Kristian Nairn a.k.a. Hodor.

Nairn became the first openly-gay actor in the show when he made an announcement to a fan site. He’s also a touring DJ so if you can track him down prepare to get your Hodor on. Hodor.

12. Aemon Is Blind In Real Life

Staying in the North, Season 5 saw us bid goodbye and congratulations to Maester Aemon. On one hand, he sadly died in the show, but on the other, he’s quite possibly the only Thrones character to die of natural causes. An achievement in itself.

Peter Vaughan, the actor behind the wise old man, is also partially blind, and that trait flowed into Aemon’s storyline, though his condition clearly hasn’t hindered his ability to land roles. Long before his Thrones spell, he told Shropshire Magazine: “as long as you’re fit and healthy to carry on, and the offers come in, you just keep on going.”

13. Peter Dinklage And Lena Headey Don’t Make Eye Contact

Normally you’d expect tabloid headlines such as “[insert actor’s name here] didn’t look at [insert actress’ name here]” to spark mass rumors of a feud or set bust up.

But not in the case of Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, Tyrion and Cersei, who often don’t look at each other to avoid bursting into the laughter while filming the most intense scenes of the show.

14. Sophie Turner HATES Lemon Cakes

If you’re the sort of fan who can’t watch a show without developing the overwhelming urge to send your favorite actress her favorite on-screen treat, here is a word of advice: Don’t.

Sansa’s love of lemon cakes knows no bounds, but that’s not a feeling shared by Sophie Turner who explained that she “can’t hate another cake more than lemon cakes” during her Season 4 DVD commentary for the show.

15. Arya’s Direwolf Played Them All

The Direwolves are the most important characters never to speak a word in Thrones, digging characters out of deep holes on a number of occasions throughout the seasons.

But once Arya’s wolf Nymeria was no longer needed for the show, the producers re-used the dog. Maisie Williams posted on Reddit: “After my dog finished playing Nymeria, she actually went on to play Shaggy Dog, and they dyed her. She was the best-behaved dog out of all of them, so she ended up playing all the other wolves, even though she was mine originally.”

16. The Show Was Banned By The Turkish Army

At the end of 2014, the Turkish national army banned Game of Thrones from being aired in their military schools for fear of spreading “sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment and all negative behaviors” among their ranks of younger recruits.

But this wasn’t the first time the show was denounced in the country. A couple of military officers were kicked out of an academy for allowing young recruits to watch the show.

17. The Show Saved A Breed Of Rare Pigs

You may think nothing prosperous can possibly come from a blood-thirsty, war-ravished, self-destructive realm like the one seen in Game of Thrones, but for one man in the real world, Westeros has given him a whole new lease of life.

Northern Irish pig farmer Kenny Gracey explained “It has funded the preservation of my rare and specialty breeds. I could not afford to keep all the animals I have commercially so it’s been a godsend. Game Of Thrones has put me on the map.” He has appeared in the show several times in costume to tend to his animals (though thankfully none were used in the making of the scene above…) and the show also bought a huge collection of his old farm equipment that was intended to be thrown away.

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