Brienne of Tarth set out on a journey this season, to keep an oath to Catelyn Stark, and ensure the safety of her two young daughters. In the finale she almost had a chance to do so, when she stumbled upon Arya Stark just miles from the Bloody Gate. But a series of misunderstandings would make the task more difficult, as Brienne was forced to take up arms against The Hound.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gwendoline Christie details filming the brutal battle at length – and it got intense.
“We filmed it—three days in Iceland and it’s the biggest hardest fight I’ve ever done. It was on the rocks with swords and fists and we both came out unscathed, but it was one of the f–king hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. My hands were like tramps feet — like swollen. They looked after me, they always do, but inevitably things happen. We were fighting up hills, down hills, rolling, fighting on rock face with a sheer down drop. [The Hound actor] Rory McCann is an amazing actor and a very strong man, and that was a challenge — not just as actors, but as characters. It’s a f–king really intense challenge.
It was boiling hot, as it happened, and I really felt for Rory. The costumes are amazing, and they did a great job at making it much easier for me than it has been before, but they’re tough to work with. What’s going through my mind? I’m so into the scene that it becomes real. Rory and I might not be killing each other, but you’re both making contact with those swords. We are two people that really go for it in that situation. Like poor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau last season with the [sword fight] said, “Can you take 10 percent off this please, rather than smashing at me?”
Rory and I were quite serious about it. We want there to be contact —rolling around in the dirt on a rock face with your hand bleeding. You’re in pain, just emotional and screaming through it, and blood is pouring out of your mouth and you’re falling over when you’re meant to and falling when you’re not meant to. I like it to be real. So certain things that are done that are very real and you’re genuinely scared because you look into the other person’s eyes and they mean it. It’s frightening—that is one of the few times I’ve not had to do any acting. I was screaming, “F–k you! Come on!” Blood everywhere, going insane. It is f–king mental.
You were there on top of a mountain with this surreal landscape around you and the sun is shining and your adrenaline is pumping and you’ve got what looks like blood everywhere and you’re in pain and you’ve got swords and you’re on the floor hitting the living daylights out of each other. I actually lost it at points and would just go in screaming … There’s a beautiful arc to it.
The fighting is an immaculate story that goes on and Alex and C.C. Smiff and poor [Paul] Herbert and Dave [Foreman]—all the stuntmen. I didn’t just want it to be a fight, I wanted it to be a physical story that was being told. I worked with [director] Alex Graves and he made it one of the most wonderful experiences. It just looks beautiful and earthy and surreal and it’s a complex emotional scene — and it’s not over yet.”
Could that last bit have been a possible hint that Brienne’s storyline will pick up exactly where it left off next season?
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Gwendoline adds, “After the final day of shooting the fight, we sat together in the car ride home and he turns around and looks at me, and I looked at him, and we couldn’t believe what we’d gone through. It’s acting, but there was something primal that was awakened in both of us.”
Although the fight ended with some primal blows, Brienne went into the fight with her sword, Oathkeeper. Gwendoline reveals that she fought with the real thing, and David and Dan won’t let her go home with the sword until one condition is met.
“It’s the most beautiful sword I’ve ever seen in my life. I was offered by the stunt department to use a rubber sword and I refused because it’s such a magnificent piece of design. It is heavy, but what I love about Game of Thrones is the intricacy of design and the integrity of how everything is carried out, so it’s an absolutely pleasure to carry and use. I asked Dan and David, “Could I please have an Oathkeeper sword?” and they smiled and told me, “When you’re dead.””
Hopefully that death isn’t coming any time soon, and when asked if we’ll be seeing more of her in upcoming seasons, Gwendoline remained coy. “I hope so. But I don’t know anything!”
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