Game of Thrones cast and crew recall every brutal detail of filming the Red Wedding


Trust us, you’re gonna wanna grab a box of tissue for this one. Digging through past interviews and taking new ones, Entertainment Weekly has put together a painfully detailed oral history of the making of the most infamous moment on Game of Thrones: the Red Wedding, when nearly half of the Stark family was slaughtered at the hands of Walder Frey. Thanks for making us cry all over again, EW.

But seriously, recollections come from the likes of Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Richard Madden (Robb Stark) and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, and they’re downright fantastic. We highly recommend reading the complete piece, but here are a few highlights!


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Let’s start with A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin. What was he thinking when he dreamed up this bloodbath?

"I like my fiction to be unpredictable…I knew [I’d kill off Robb Stark] almost from the beginning [of writing the first book]. I killed Ned because everybody thinks, “He’s the hero [and], sure, he’s going to get into trouble, but then he’ll somehow get out of it.” The next predictable thing is to think his eldest son is going to rise up and avenge his father. Everybody is going to expect that. So immediately [killing Robb] became the next thing I had to do."

Thanks for the memories, Martin. The unpredictability certainly worked for Benioff when he first read this infamous chapter from A Storm of Swords. “It’s the strongest physical reaction I’ve ever had to reading anything,” he said. “I didn’t want to turn the page because you know something horrible is going to happen and you can’t quite believe it and you don’t want it to happen.” We’re guessing that reaction is one of the reasons Benioff and Weiss wanted to adapt the series.

Weiss saw the Red Wedding a little differently:

"The Red Wedding was the thing we always told ourselves, “If we get to this moment that’s in the books, and if we do it right, then [the show will] be in a pretty good place and the energy that [the twist] injects into this story will be enough to get us through to the end.”"

And as it was predicted, so it was.

The performers on the ground weren’t as jazzed about the whole thing as Weiss was. “We were very fortunate — we had a week to shoot the whole wedding sequence and did it chronologically as well,” remembered Michelle Fairley. “So every day we edged closer to the slaughter. By the end of the week, you were getting emotional.”

Apparently, Fairly took a while to process the whole thing. “We tried to call Michelle afterwards,” recalled Weiss. “She wasn’t answering. A week later she wrote an email saying, ‘Sorry, I haven’t been able to talk to anybody because I’ve been so shattered.’” Same.

The murder of Talisa (Oona Chaplin) was particularly brutal, stabbed in her pregnant belly over and over. It had quite an effect on the actress. “I was actually crying while I was dead,” she said. “The director had to come over: ‘Oona, you need to stop crying, dead people don’t cry. You’re dead, just be dead.’” Once again, gonna have to go with ‘Same.’

Although saddened by Robb’s death, what messed Richard Madden up the most was knowing how close Arya Stark had come to seeing her family again. “Arya being so close to getting to me really cut me up even more,” he said. “With every episode, Robb’s been further and further from people he loves. That’s what we’ve all wanted—to get the family back together — even if it was only one of us coming back. And that’s what made me really emotional about it.”

And while the cast and crew all thought they had made something special, a lot of them were caught off guard by the intensity of the fan reaction. Not George R.R. Martin, though:

"People read books for different reasons. I respect that. Some read for comfort. And some of my former readers have said their life is hard, their mother is sick, their dog died, and they read fiction to escape. They don’t want to get hit in the mouth with something horrible. And you read that certain kind of fiction where the guy will always get the girl and the good guys win and it reaffirms to you that life is fair. We all want that at times. There’s a certain vicarious release to that. So I’m not dismissive of people who want that. But that’s not the kind of fiction I write, in most cases. It’s certainly not what Ice and Fire is. It tries to be more realistic about what life is. It has joy, but it also had pain and fear. I think the best fiction captures life in all its light and darkness."

Well nobody told me that when I started the books, George!

Sorry. Anyway, we cannot recommend reading the whole oral history enough. Just bring a box of tissues. Or two.

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