“Blackwater” director Neil Marshall on nudity and creating the battle

Neil Marshall, who directed last week’s “Blackwater” episode, talks to Empire Online about creating the epic battle and his experience working on the show.

Marshall confirms that the chain, a vital part of Tyrion’s plan to thwart Stannis’s fleet in A Clash of Kings, was eliminated from the script early on for budgetary reasons, before he came on board. The director brought his experience on such action and adventure films as “Centurion” and “The Descent” to the table, coming up with the idea for the battering ram/boat combination used by Stannis’s men, and proposing that the men defending King’s Landing be using boulders in addition to arrows. He also brought Stannis himself into the front of the battle, as opposing to Stannis leading from a distance as in the novel.

A notable section of the discussion involves the show’s use of nudity and “sexposition,” an aspect so notorious it was lampooned by SNL. What asked about his feelings on the subject, Marshall responded:

It was pretty surreal. I’d not done anything like that in my films before. But the weirdest part was when you have one of the exec producers leaning over your shoulder, going, “You can go full frontal, you know. This is television, you can do whatever you want! And do it! I urge you to do it.” So I was like, “Okay, well, if you— you’re the boss.”

Marshall further elaborated:

This particular exec took me to one side and said, “Look, I represent the pervert side of the audience, okay? Everybody else is the serious drama side—I represent the perv side of the audience, and I’m saying I want full frontal nudity in this scene.” So you go ahead and do it.

The extensive use of nudity has been debated since the show began, with frequent accusations that HBO and Game of Thrones showrunners were shoehorning sex scenes into episodes to make lengthy exposition scenes more palatable for the average viewer. Some take issue with full nudity in general, while others only have a problem when the nudity (almost invariably female) and/or sex is a distraction from the subject at hand and not central to that scene’s intent. This blunt peek behind the scenes has been startling for some. While sexuality is a definite part of the realistic fantasy world of Westeros in George R. R. Martin’s books, Marshall’s remarks seem to confirm that the show’s attitude toward nudity and sex is a rather cynical one, based on pandering to those they may not think will appreciate the show without it.

Ours is the Fury:The section addressing the sexposition question is certainly illuminating, but give the rest of the podcast a listen as it really is an interesting look at the practicality and thought processes involved in making television like “Blackwater.” There is also the requisite adoration of Jack Gleeson that appears in every interview with people working on GoT!