Game of Thrones showrunners discuss last night’s episode-ending death scene


Events happened at a lightning pace in “The Queen’s Justice,” last night’s new episode of Game of Thrones. Castles fell, fleets were smashed, and characters jumped from one end of the map to another in the blink of an eye.

But the show took its time with the final scene of the episode: the death of Olenna Tyrell. HBO showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss talked to Entertainment Weekly about working with actor Diana Rigg over the years, starting with her unique audition. 

"When we initially cast Diana Rigg, we met with Nina Gold, our legendary casting director, and we had tea with her. Dames don’t audition for you, you audition for them. And we loved her. She was funny, she was bawdy, she was everything we wanted for that character."

Beinoff called Rigg a “legendary” actress and included her on a list of other Game of Thrones notables like Max Von Sydow, Jim Broadbent, and Charles Dance, people who “have been doing it for so long and are so frickin’ good at what they do.” Long before coming on Thrones, Rigg cut her teeth as Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series The Avengers and as Tracy Bond in On Her Magesty’s Secret Service, and amassed an impressive pile of film, TV, and theater credits in the interim. She surely belongs in the company of some of the other venerated actors in the cast.

Pivoting to the actual episode, Benioff was enthused about Rigg’s performance in her death scene. “She’s one of the best in the world and [Olenna’s final scene] is one of my favorites in the whole season,” he said. “She really brought it.” The scene came at the end of the episode, after Jaime had taken Highgarden with the Lannister armies. It was clear Olenna had to die — Jaime, being a little nicer than his sister, offered her a painless death via poison, which Olenna eagerly chugged. Although she knew she was on the chopping block, Olenna got the last word by confessing to her part in the murder of Joffrey Baratheon. Weiss described why it worked so well:

"What I love about the way she plays the scene is that even though you leave the scene knowing she’s soon going to be dead shortly after you cut to black you still feel like she won. She’s probably the only character to win her own death scene."

Jaime was clearly stunned by Olenna’s confession, and you have to wonder if he regretted offering her a merciful death.

“Olenna is like Cersei in so many ways, but just from our point of view she’s been on the ‘good’ side,” said actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime). “And I just love how she goes out. She goes out with bite. She’s never going to beg. She did an amazing job. It was fun to be there and when we wrapped the showrunners came around and said a few words. She’s had a huge impact on the series.”

Rigg’s energy and wit will be missed on the show, but at least the Queen of Thorns got the last laugh.

Next: Watch the trailer for next week’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Spoils of War”

Game of Thrones season 7 continues next Sunday at 9:00 PM EST.

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