Game of Thrones sets a record number of people on fire for season 7

Game of Thrones is used to setting records. A while back, stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam talked about how his department had broken the record for most people set on fire on a film set when it lit up a bunch of stuntmen during Drogon’s attack on Daznak’s Pit in season 5’s “The Dance of Dragons.” That was impressive, but according to a new interview with Irlam in Entertainment Weekly, the Game of Thrones team has topped itself for season 7:

One sequence has 73 fire burns and that itself is a record. No film or TV show has ever done that in a whole show, let alone in one sequence. We also set 20 people on fire at one time, which is also a record. I think in Saving Private Ryan they had 13 on a beach, and on Braveheart, they had 18 partial burns. Because of the nature of our attacking animals, we had the liberty to expand on that.

By “attacking animals,” Irlam means dragons. It sounds like Drogon does some major damage this year.

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Happily, the stuntmen have a lot of protection. Every person set ablaze is covered in fire-resistant gear, a cooling gel and a mask. Once they’re lit up, the stuntmen has to hold their breathe for about 30 seconds before they’re extinguished. Otherwise, Irlam explains, the consequences can be severe.

It’s totally different from going underwater in your bathtub and counting the seconds in your head. If somebody bumps you and you breathe in by accident you will breathe in flame.

And even after the fire is out, the stuntmen are still in danger of reigniting, so they must stay down until the all-clear is given. Clearly, these guys have to go through a lot to give us the illusion that Daenerys and her dragons are dangerous. “We try to think about what this would actually feel like to make it real for the viewers,” Irlam says. “We do different performances so hopefully you look through the fire and see a human being in the final throes of life. We try very hard to make it really feel like a casualty of war.”

Thank you for that. Game of Thrones season 7 premieres on July 16.