Ygritte had Jon Snow in her crosshairs, and after a moment of hesitation, one crooked smile undid a season’s worth of built up anger and thirst for revenge. While face to face with the man she loved, it was Olly who would get his revenge instead, causing an emotional goodbye amidst the ongoing battle.
Rose Leslie’s portrayal of the kissed by fire Wildling made the goodbye even more impactful, and she will certainly be missed. To dull the pain, Rose has done quite a few interviews this week about her time on Game of Thrones, her final days on set, the very thoughtful parting gift from the cast and crew, and much more.
Rose spoke with Zap2It about the importance of striking a balance between Ygritte as a violent Wildling, and a sympathetic character worthy of love, and the impact of Olly being the one to kill her.
This season we’ve really seen Ygritte the violent wildling, so how did you find the balance with also portraying her as the Ygritte the audience and Jon Snow love?
We hadn’t yet quite seen such a ruthless side of her and the brutal, brutal mentality that you have to have to survive north of the Wall and to be a part of the Wildling community, so I love that. But you’re right, you do need to balance it with the kind of humanistic nature and show that she still has a heart, and I think that’s certainly shown through in last week’s episode with Ygritte finding Gilly and her child in Mole’s Town. The fact that she didn’t kill her and the fact that she did decide to let her survive — and of course she has no idea of the connection that they have with Jon or Sam — that I felt did help the kind of argument that she isn’t so changed. She’s not a horrible murderous woman yet [ laughs].
Does having Olly be the one to kill Ygritte after she killed his family at all temper her death versus having it be caused by someone we know in the Night’s Watch, like Sam or Grenn?
It’s always hard if it is with a child. There’s the moment where she does not die when she sees Jon Snow, and she’s in the courtyard and she and Jon are looking at each other, and there is that moment of finally having seen him and built up all this rage to kill the man; she realizes in that moment that she cannot kill someone that she truly loves. In that hesitation, that is when Olly shoots his arrow and gets her in the back because she isn’t moving anymore; her head still isn’t in the battle.
I think that’s a very touching moment, but also hard for Jon Snow because I think it’s going to be very interesting for Season 5 to then see how he behaves about Olly. Obviously Olly has no idea who he killed, and he just went around and killed all the enemies of the Night’s Watch. It’s a lovely [scene] because obviously it’s not in the books, but it’s lovely way to tie it up and almost have it be more painful for Jon Snow to know.
Rose spoke with TV Guide about whether or not Ygritte really had it in her to kill Jon Snow, and the lasting effect she believes Ygritte had on Jon’s life.
Olly shoots her because Ygritte has trained an arrow on Jon. Do you really think she had it in her to kill him?
The arrow is nocked, and she has so much pent up rage and she’s been saying throughout other episodes that she wants to make sure that he pays and that he hurts the way that she’s been hurting for so long. In that hesitation of shooting him, it is in that moment whereby you know she is completely fixated on Jon when she gets shot. I don’t think that she was ever able to kill him. But in that moment, it’s brilliant how much she loved Jon Snow and wasn’t unable to go through with it.
What affect has she had on [Jon’s] life?
She’s totally changed the character of Jon Snow. The character he is now — he’s not so narrow-minded anymore, he can see the side of the wildlings, he can see why they are doing what they are do, why they had to go to Castle Black and fight and survive. Now Jon Snow can move forward without Ygritte in his life and just become the man that he was always meant to be.
Rose revealed to Hero Complex that she and Kit did not rehearse their scene together, to assure it was as real as possible.
“Kit Harington and I had spoken beforehand, and neither of us really ever wanted to rehearse the death scene. We wanted to make it as organic as possible, so we did it there in the moment. If I had taken time to think about it too much then I think I would have been way too emotional before the scene had even started. I think that was the best way to approach it, and I’m glad he agreed.”
Rose told Access Hollywood about her last day on set, and the parting gift that she received from the cast and crew.
On her last day:
“They were incredibly thoughtful in making sure that the scene where I die in Jon Snow’s arms was my last day. That was the last thing I was ever going to do for ‘Game of Thrones,’ and so, obviously, I was feeling incredibly emotional that day anyway, and so when we were done, when we were wrapped, I was presented with the most lovely wrap gift and I was bawling like a baby and kind of like, hopping from each crew member to the other and just hugging people and saying how much I loved them. It was a little bit ridiculous on my part, to be fair.”
On the parting gift:
“They actually presented me with Ygritte’s bow and I had no idea. They changed the strap and they replaced it with white leather and then there was a silver plaque on one side, saying, ‘kissed by fire.’ And then, on the other side, there was a rose emblem — like a red rose, so it was very, very beautiful and I was hugely touched.”
Rose spoke with Yahoo TV about whether she thought this was a fitting end to her character, and how she wound down after filming the emotional scene.
Do you feel that it is a fitting end for the character? Would you have wanted anything else?
No, I feel that it is a very fitting end for the character. I do. I think that the relationship she has with Jon Snow needed to have its arc; it needed that, for Ygritte to be out of his life, for Jon to then move on and continue in the direction that he’s going and to become his own man. And I have to say that I think that it’s a really fitting end they both needed.
So after the tears, how did you come down after finishing? Did you watch a comedy? Take a bubble bath?
[Laughs.] There was a lot of champagne, a celebration back at the hotel — because in Belfast, we’re lucky us cast members to all stay within the same hotel. So we all piled back into the cars and people went back to the hotel and we all sat up drinking, which is a lovely way to say goodbye to the show for me, because I had such a blast being a part of it. That night was very special to me. So yeah, that was kind of the way to end it, and I think it was a lovely full-stop.
Rose spoke with The Daily Beast about filming the rest of the battle, what she’ll miss the most about making Game of Thrones, and her favorite scene of the series to film.
What was it like shooting the Battle of Castle Black? That looked strenuous.
There’s so much going on! It wasn’t strenuous at all because we were all in it together at three o’clock in the morning, and perhaps it was raining—maybe it wasn’t—and you’re all there trying to make the best battle sequence ever. It was incredibly exciting to do it. I think it took about 10 days for me to shoot on and off, myself. But the whole scale was just phenomenal. I remember walking in to that Castle Black set for the first time and being blown away! It was very, very cool.
What is it you’ll miss the most about making Game of Thrones?
I think it will be the experiences of going off to these beautiful countries like Iceland, and going there and being able to experience this vast landscape that I had never before seen in my life. It was breathtaking going there for the first time—truly magical. I will miss that, above all!
Looking back, what was your favorite scene to film on the show?
Hmm…Oh, I know! It would have to be the scaling of The Wall scene. That was truly wonderful and took about 10 days to shoot, and we were all harnessed in and hanging on, and there was a wind machine and snow machine blowing in my face! It was on a 50-foot wall they constructed that was surrounded by green screen, and you were halfway up it and you’re harnessed in hanging on with your own body weight. That was amazing and I kept thinking, “I’m such a lucky girl to have this job!”
Rose spoke with Vulture about Ygritte’s decision to spare Gilly and her baby, and one of the actual love scenes we have seen on Game of Thrones.
Although that’s also refreshing, the sheer volume of warrior women on Game of Thrones: Ygritte, Brienne, Arya, Yara. I kind of wish they could all meet up and hang out, partly because some of them could use a friend.
Hells yeah! It is so inspirational, to see that in the world of Westeros, men are answering to women, and they are a force to be reckoned with. It’s empowering and it’s inspirational as well, because you’re just like, this is great! Something that I loved about that scene with Gilly was that you saw a different side of Ygritte, that she’s not always ruthless or vicious, or always focused on making Jon Snow pay for the hurt. She’s all about showing to the men, “I will make sure Jon Snow pays. His balls are going to be hanging around my neck.” When I was reading it in the script, I was unaware of what her next action would be, whether she would allow this mother and child to survive. And when it comes down to it, she does have a heart.
Which we’ve seen both in how she and Jon fell in love, and then her subsequent heartbreak when he left her. They had one of the few love scenes that was actually about love …
They’re a rarity! Yes, and I feel actually that it was a love scene, not a gratuitous sex scene, the norm you see within the series. I feel that it is a beautiful scene, because finally you see these two characters get together, and there is no infiltration from the outside world. They’re all wrapped up in their own little bubble. And that was very, very lovely, and also very tender, because there’s no power play going on. There’s no war going on between them, there’s no more trying to antagonize. It was just two people who’d finally fallen in love. And it was beautiful, and wonderful, and kind of an escape. It doesn’t just have to be brutal.
Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Rose, but also included quotes from showrunners David and Dan, and her co-star Kit Harington about their feelings on saying goodbye to the actress.
David Benioff: “With Rose you think back to when we first met her in [casting director] Nina Gold’s office and she came in and read and she was so fantastic, then you flash forward to shooting that scene and it’s hard to believe only been with her for three years and yet she’s one of our favorite people. It’s fitting that her dying shots is one of my favorite shots we’ve ever had on the show. Rose and Kit’s performances are beautiful.”
Dan Weiss: “She’s so fantastic and such a powerful presence on screen and such an amazing person off screen. She brought such a believably strength and fierceness to her character that’s so at odds of the lovely person she is in real life.”
Kit Harington: “She’s a consummate professional and the most wonderfully generous lovely person. We got on so very very well. It was a really sad moment. Luckily for us her last scene was the scene where she was shot — I’ve never seen a crew respond to a character’s death that way. It’s a testament to how popular she was.”
Be sure to click through all of the links to read the full interviews, and look forward to our Curtain Call for the very talented Rose Leslie later this week.
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