Director Alex Graves has been giving some great interviews this week in response to his work on The Lion and the Rose. We’ll be seeing more of his work on Sunday, as well as in the eighth, and tenth episode, which we’ve heard is going to be quite a finale.
In a new interview with Collider, Graves reveals even more about that final episode, saying “there’s a battle in the tenth episode that is so VFX heavy and so complex, even on a feature level, that won’t be done until June right before it airs.”
The interview is quite lengthy and worth the read, covering the more technical side of production, and his other projects. Here are a few Thrones related questions about how the show is different from others, how he put together the final wedding sequence, and why we’ll be missing his work on Season 5.
I’m so anticipating the rest of the season. Talk a little bit about how making Game of Thrones is different than the other shows you’ve been involved with. Whether it be in terms of getting revisions the night before of the script or just in general, like the pre-production schedule.
GRAVES: Yeah, it’s very different. For starters, it’s really like making a ten-hour movie, and I don’t mean that in terms of scale or coolness. It’s a ten-hour story that is very specific. Most TV shows are writing the next episode while you’re directing the one you’re doing, and they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do and they’re putting it all together. On Game of Thrones they write all ten episodes in advance, and if you’ve done your homework, you’ve read all ten episodes, so you know where you are in the movie. The task is to make sure that you’re delivering on the subjects, the pre-story and the story to come, which are known, and on many other TV shows they’re not. I mean, besides- yeah, he was an alcoholic and had a gambling problem, it’s like, “Okay great.” I’m talking about the Kingslayer and the night Tywin Lannister sacked Kings Landing and Elia Martell was killed and other things, there’s so much to know that plays into the major directing. That’s before you even get into the production of it, which is you fly to Belfast, you prep for about ten days and you start shooting, and that’s short prep, so then while you’re shooting you keep prepping for what’s coming down the pike. On weekends you’re flying to Croatia to prep, you’re flying to Iceland to prep, and you’re shooting. You’re going non-stop, hoping and you don’t blow it.
This is also something that I think every fan of the show has wanted to see since they first met that fucking bastard. So talk a little bit about framing- did you pre-vis that whole sequence? How did you decide exactly where you wanted dot put the camera for his, if you will, goodbye?
GRAVES: Well I storyboarded the whole thing privately, there’s a lot of storyboarding done on the show, but I just drew my storyboard so that it was almost like a security blanket to know that I wasn’t going to blow it. So that I knew the build through the vignette into the humiliation of Tyrion into the release of the pie and the turning point when the drink is drunk. Then from there we brought Rob Bottin, the makeup effects master from The Thing and so many films, Se7en and so on. He worked with the visual effects team, the multi-Emmy award winning visual effects, who are so talented to kind of pull off the storyboard. It’s funny because we actually now live in a time where you’re in a meeting where one side of the table says, “Okay, we’ll be doing the blood.” And the other side of the table that’s visual effects says, “Okay, we’ll be doing the foam and we’ll be doing the veins.” You split it up, and that intertwining of practical, old-fashioned beautiful skilled effects married with the same in visual effects can now be spectacular enough to kill Joffrey with.
The show got picked up for two more seasons, which I know is a shocker to nobody with the ratings and popularity. Have you already talked to them about coming back for more episodes?
GRAVES: Yeah, certainly I would like to have gone back, they wanted me to come back, but David Nutter and I have a similar thing where when you do too many years in a row, you better be sure that your wife and kids are not really ready for you to do a third one. So I’m taking a break this year and I’m going to have some wonderful home time.
The Purple Wedding has been a hot topic this week, but in another new interview with Access Hollywood Graves discusses some of the other scenes in The Lion and the Rose, one that was very emotional, and one that proved to be a lot of fun.
Access: Another scene totally unrelated to the Purple Wedding was the Shae/Tyrion scene. I talked to Sibel [Kekilli, who plays Shae] about it and she got so emotional just talking about it… What did you say to them?
Alex: Yeah, it’s an incredible scene, just starting with the script, and the moment in the book… That was one of my greatest fears in the whole season. Sibel and Peter have brought that relationship to so much more life than is in the books that it was scary, you know, it was terrifying that he was really gonna do it and then, that he’d be able to do it and pull it off. What I did was I set that scene up so that it was lit in such a way that we did it basically in one set up and I was filming them both at the same time, and I didn’t cut and we kept going again and again and the most that I really said was — and I sort of knew this would happen – once we’d gotten up and running, and they’d really kind of gone for it, I went into Peter and said something like, ‘OK, now just get through it because you’ve got somewhere else you’ve gotta be in five minutes.’ And with all the emotion that he has, and Peter is an incredibly warm and loving person, so it was very, very hard for him, he really brought that back into the scene and gave not only [a] more chilling performance, but we said afterward, [an] effective performance. He has got to get her out of there. It’s such an incredible scene. And then, with Sibel, I just basically said – we talked a little bit about how long she should keep it all in and I mentioned — have you heard the story about hitting Bronn?
Access: No. I saw she smacked him on the show.
Alex: Well, I went over to [Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn] after a couple of takes and I said, ‘Would you be OK if she hit you and of course he said, ‘Absolutely,’ and I said, ‘Take it easy. Let’s do it once,’ and she hit him so hard, and so fast that it was shocking and I went in and I actually regretted saying it and I said, ‘Let’s not do that again. OK, I’m sorry. Let’s just go again, but no more hitting. It’s probably a mistake.’ And so we went again and she hit him even harder.
Access: You got to direct Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jerome Flynn together, sparring as Jaime and Bronn. They are both funny guys. Please tell me that was the most fun day on set.
Alex: When you see all the gigantic stuff that was so high pressure, that was like the most fun I may have had all season, because it was like, ‘I want the camera to be here, and action.’ And to film the two of them was a blast and the dialogue in that scene was incredible and that was just fun.