Director Alan Taylor breaks down Ned Stark’s death scene


Game of Thrones is nearly over, and the retrospective articles and videos are coming in hot. In a new one from Vanity Fair, director Alan Taylor breaks down Ned Stark’s death scene, which he directed all the way back when the show was first finding its footing:

Some of this is absolutely fascinating. Sean Bean lowering his head for execution was shot in Belfast but Ilyn Payne actually swinging the sword was shot in Malta? That’s insane! I know Taylor talks about how little money they had back then, but they had enough to afford some nifty technical wizardry…although apparently not enough to insert the Sept of Baelor in the background. Eh, Cersei was gonna blow it up five seasons later anyway.

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I also like what he says about rock star Wilko Johnson playing Ilyn Payne; that did indeed kick off a tradition of musicians appearing in small roles, a tradition that climaxed with Ed Sheeran appearing as a Lannister soldier in season 7. So to anyone who threw a fit about that (no one reading this, obviously), it’s all part of the history.

That said, it’s fascinating to me that the team was nervous about killing Ned. “And we realized there’s a reason why you don’t do that, because you depend on the audience being invested and carrying through to season 2 and we’d yanked out one of their main reasons for being there.” It seemed to work out pretty well for Game of Thrones. Are you afraid of notoriety and success, Alan Taylor?

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