Armorer Natalia Lee discusses the weapons of Game of Thrones season 8


When Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season, we’ll finally see the war between the living and the dead play out. With the stakes so high, the weapons our heroes use to battle the Night King and his army will be of the utmost importance.

Game of Thrones crew member Natalia Lee sat down with Bustle and talked about her experience designing weapons for the show, something she’s been doing since season 1, and the importance some of those weapons will have in season 8. “I just feel we know the characters that are still around and we know that a few things have exchanged hands and been honored to other people,” she said.

There are many notable weapons out there in Westeros right now. There’s Longclaw, Jon Snow’s Valyrian steel sword, gifted to him by Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. Then there’s Littlefinger’s Valyrian steel dagger, currently in a holster at Arya Stark’s side, Arya having just used it to open Littlefinger’s throat.

In season 4, we saw Tywin Lannister melt down Ned Stark’s Valyrian steel sword, Ice, into two swords: Oathkeeper, which Jaime gave to Brienne; and Widow’s Wail, which Jaime got after his Joffrey, Jaime’s son and its original owner, died.

Lee and her team have designed all those weapons and more. Sometimes, they rely on descriptions from the books. “It always starts with the script and a summary of what’s going to happen,” she said. “We get a fair idea. The script will sometimes change. We have influence from the writers. They may be very specific in what they want. We may reference back to the novels.”

Lee tries to incorporate the story behind the blade as she designs it. Take the example of the Tarly family’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane.

"Especially in the sense of Heartsbane, [we’re] always trying to bring it back to the script. The actual sigils used, and design elements, and trying to tell a story. The House of Tarly is an arching family, hunting family, so we wanted to incorporate that into the hilt. There’s definitely a few swords and a few principal weapons that we make every year that we hope will become legendary or plotlines themselves, and they kind of do. They take on a life of their own."

Designing and creating weapons for Game of Thrones isn’t the only thing Lee has done for the show. In seasons 1 and 2, she portrayed the character Chella, the female leader of the Black Ears clan from the mountains surrounding the Vale of Arryn.

And on top of that, she was a stunt double for Nymeria Sand (Jessica Henwick). “In Season 5, they asked me to stunt double for an actress in the Sand Snakes, one who had a bronze handle cast snake whip. Sometimes the stunt actors might need help from us to learn — they might not know how to use a catapult.”

According to Bustle, Lee is “the world’s only female film armorist,” a title she’s proud to have. Lee relates a story of her traveling to set with an older man who assumed the man sitting next to her was the show’s armorer, and that she “must be the drapery person.”

"I was like, I’ve never made drapes in my life! He was so apologetic, but yeah, there are misconceptions. Sometimes you’re like a big novelty [on set], but they get used to you quite quickly. You’re the one with the weapons and they kind of have to toe the line and [listen] because there’s no one else, is there?"

As for season 8, Lee and her team have been working hard to deliver weapons for the largest battles in Game of Thrones history. “I think at this point we’re all super exhausted. It feels like we’ve been through everything. I think we’ve killed like nearly everybody.”

She means that metaphorically…right?

Next: Season 8 filming: The King’s Landing set prepares for battle

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