We’ve known for a while now that Game of Thrones Season 8 will have an epic battle scene, and now the producers have shared more details about it. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, episode director Miguel Sapochnik, who previously directed the Battle of the Bastards episode, confirmed this new episode will feature a battle between familiar living characters and the Night King and his army. The showdown has been teased since the show’s beginning, and now it’s finally coming.
In the episode, which chronicles the Battle of Winterfell, familiar characters like Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, and Brienne of Tarth are outnumbered as they fight against the supernatural foes. According to EW, it’s the “longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film.” At 40 minutes, the Helm’s Deep battle from The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers was the longest battle sequence that Sapochnik said he could find in cinema history.
Co-executive producer Bryan Cogman spoke about the epic battle scene, calling it unprecedented for TV or film.
“What we have asked the production team and crew to do this year truly has never been done in television or in a movie,” he explained. “This final face-off between the Army of the Dead and the army of the living is completely unprecedented and relentless and a mixture of genres even within the battle. There are sequences built within sequences built within sequences. [Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss wrote] an amazing puzzle and Miguel came in and took it apart and put it together again. It’s been exhausting but I think it will blow everybody away.”
Filming the episode took 11 weeks of night shoots. According to the report, up to 750 people worked all night for almost three months in sub-freezing temperatures and enduring cold rain, mud, and heavy wind.
Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, told EW that “nothing can prepare you for how physically draining” it was filming the battle scene. “It’s night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn’t stop,” she said. “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.”
The actor who plays Ser Jorah Mormont, Iain Glen, said filming the battle was the “most unpleasant experience I’ve had on Thrones.”
“A real test, really miserable. You get to sleep at seven 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,” he added. “You have no life outside it. You have an absolute f**ked bunch of actors. But without getting too method [acting] about it, on screen it bleeds through to the reality of the Thrones world.”
The entire interview at EW is incredibly in depth and fascinating–check it out here.
Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres on April 14 on HBO–you can see the latest footage here. While the main show is ending, a prequel series is in development.