Spoilers ahead for folks who haven’t seen the Game of Thrones premiere just yet.
There’s a lot going on in HBO’s final season of Game of Thrones. It’s hard enough to keep all the many members–living or dead–of the warring families straight, let alone remember who’s allied with whom, and so on. But there’s just as much going on behind the scenes as there is between the pages. Luckily, the first in a new series of making-of featurettes (totaling almost 18 minutes in the first episode alone) slows things down a bit to show fans what they might have missed. In fact, there’s a trio of “blink and you’ll miss it” cameos in the premiere itself that are highlighted here.
Silicon Valley star Martin Starr and Always Sunny in Philadelphia all-star Rob McElhenney briefly appeared in the Season 8 premiere before being unceremoniously dispatched. Additionally, in a meta sort of way, the episode’s writer Dave Hill was literally axed on set, thanks to some stellar practical effects work. To make things even stranger, George Lucas stopped by to see how the premiere was shaping up (which had nothing to do with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss shifting gears to work on new Star Wars movies…), which you can see in this featurette, as well. On the more crew-friendly side of things, there are some excellent examples of stunt work and production design showcased here.
First up, did you catch the eye-popping cameo from Starr and McElhenney? The Always Sunny in Philadelphia star teased his brief Game of Thrones appearance on Instagram as the premiere aired:
— Rob McElhenney (@RMcElhenney) April 15, 2019
You can see the pair here the new behind-the-scenes featurette here, though it’s as brief an appearance on screen as it is off.
As for Lucas’ visit to the set, you can watch all the awkwardness unfold at your leisure at the link provided. (His on-set direction of Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke was probably similar to his director’s notes on the Star Wars prequels, though at least this was done in fun.)
Back to the cameos! The crew had an ax to grind for writer Dave Hill; literally. Hill talks about writing the scene into the script and inadvertently creating a ton of work for the special effects team for what amounted to a few seconds of screentime. Hill ended up taking the ax to the skull himself thanks to the talents of the special effects department. You can watch it unfold here.
One of the creepiest moments of the entire episodes was the Night King’s bit of bloody artwork, a sinister sigil of sorts he left on the wall for Beric, Tormund and their pals to find. But that sequence took quite a bit of work to pull off, including having Harry Grasby, the child actor who played Undead Ned Umber, swap places with stunt performer Paul Lowe, who underwent his first “full burn” for this scene. See how they made on-screen magic here.
Now you may be surprised to find out that Game of Thrones does not quite have the budget to wrangle fully grown dragons on set. A combination of aerial drone footage, green screen work, and mechanical “bucks/bulls” were used to pull off the stunning dragon flight sequence. (Unfortunately for Harington, his man parts got caught up in the mechanical dragon parts, almost leading to disaster. Here his tale of woe here.)
If you’re not into the behind-the-scenes magic but are all in for bloopers and outtakes, you’ll want to give this featurette a watch for more gems like this one:
And for much more on Game of Thrones, be sure to get caught up by taking a look at our most recent, relevant, and related write-ups, linked below:
- Watch: ‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunners Break Down the Premiere Episode
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Guide, Week 1: Every Question We Have After the Season 8 Premiere
- The New ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Opening Credits, Explained
- Trailer for ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 2 Teases Battle Preparations
- George R.R. Martin Says ‘Game of Thrones’ Ending Won’t Be “That Different” from the Books