Gemma Whelan talks Yara’s alliance with Daenerys, and more interview fun


HBO’s Making Game of Thrones blog has posted a trio of new interviews: one with Gemma Whelan (Yara), one with Sophie Turner (Sansa), and one with Iwan Rheon (Ramsay). Let’s dig into them.

The media attention following “Battle of the Bastards” has mostly been on, well, the Battle of the Bastards, but the scene between Daenerys, Theon, Yara, and Tyrion was an unexpected highlight. Gemma Whelan was excited to film material with important characters like Dany and Tyrion, and thinks that Dany and Yara could form a beautiful friendship.

"It’s clear as the scene plays out that Yara quite likes Dany. We share a lot of little looks and there’s some playful language in how we talk to one another – Dany asks if the Iron Islands ever had a queen, and Yara says, “No more than Westeros.” They recognize the girl power undertow between the two of them."

They did seem to take a shine to one another very quickly. Still, Yara had to pay a price to win Daenerys’ alliance: promising that the Ironborn would no long reave along the shores of Westeros as they’d been doing for centuries.

"I was surprised at that and how quickly she makes a decision. I think at that moment, Yara knows that she’s got to cut something that means a great deal to her for the long game. Yara recognizes that her whole way of life has changed anyway. As it stands, she’s not welcome back at the Iron Islands, so sacrificing that way of life possibly isn’t that big of a deal. She’s taking a leap and teaming up with someone who’s got other ways of doing things. In a very quick amount of time, she has to play that chess game and say, “OK, no more.”"

Book-readers know that, on the page, Yara (or rather Asha, her book equivalent) is inclined toward peace anyway, so maybe they’ll get into that aspect of her plan on the show as this relationship develops.

Sophie Turner, meanwhile, talked about what it meant to Sansa to be able to exact revenge on Ramsay.

"[I]t’s finally her chance to directly get revenge for what he’s done to her. Emotionally, it is so gratifying to watch this man suffer for what he’s done but also to be given the opportunity by Jon to solely take charge of something that typically would be his job. The fact that she doesn’t have to persuade him to give her this opportunity is also very important in her eyes, because it’s really the first time this season that Jon has acknowledged her as capable of taking charge."

She also talked a bit about how Jon underestimated Sansa at first, but him allowing Sansa to take the reigns on Ramsay’s demise bodes well for their working relationship. As for filming the scene itself…

"It was very, very intense. It was something we had to get completely right. We spent a few days on it because we needed Sansa’s reaction to be not only one of satisfaction but also something of a hunger to watch more, longer and harder."

That sounds a little creepy, but Ramsay did put her through rather a lot. If Iwan Rheon can be believed, the Bastard of the Dreadfort will always be in Sansa’s head. Remember one of his final lines to her: “You can’t kill me, I’m part of you now.” “[I]t’s really twisted, but I think he’s kind of right,” Rheon said. “He has broken her in a really dark way, but, thankfully, she has found her strength. It’s great to have another strong female character in the show.”

Rheon also took us through Ramsay’s emotional journey during “Battle of the Bastards.” His favorite scene was the “amazingly-written” one near the beginning, when Ramsay and Jon had a parlay on horses. He commented on one moment toward the end of that scene, when Sansa tells Ramsay he’s going to die, drops the mic, and rides off.

"It takes him aback a bit because he’s enjoying his power and then she momentarily knocks him off his stride. In his head, he’s this all-powerful figure over her, but now that she’s free, he can see this strength. He’s slightly impressed. Ramsay he likes to be in charge, but he quite enjoys it when people stand up to him. He’s thinking, “Oh, she’s got a bit of spirit in her.”"

He also gave some insight into what it was like being on set during the filming of those pitched battle sequences.

"It was such a massive thing to shoot, so it was quite fun. But a lot of the battle for me was on a horse not really sure what I was looking at, because it was all shot very separately. It was cool to be on that set with all of these amazing supporting artists – the respective armies – it feels like you’re at war. In between takes there’s a bunch of guys just lying down with their swords and their armor and shields, using their helmets as pillows. It was a really surreal experience."

And what’s going through Ramsay’s head after he retreats to Winterfell?

"He’s more annoyed that his magnificent plan has not worked. But even then, he’s so arrogant he believes it’s going to be all right. He’s got that sort of ridiculous self-confidence. Then the door starts breaking, and he starts to realize, “Right, this is over, so I’m going to go out the way I want to go out.” When he’s shooting arrows at Jon Snow, he knows he’s going to die, but he doesn’t really care."

As it ends up, Kit Harington did accidentally punch Rheon a couple of times in the face when he was mining that vicious beating, but the actor took it in stride. All in all, he was pleased with the way Ramsay Bolton went out. We’ll see what a post-Ramsay world looks like when “The Winds of Winter” airs this Sunday.