The safeword on the Game of Thrones set is “banana,” and other stunt coordination facts


Game of Thrones is beloved for many reasons — complex characters, riveting political intrigue, the ever-present threat of death — but the most immediately satisfying may be the show’s epic battles, duels and fights. Whether it’s Tyrion igniting the Blackwater or Daenerys torching the Lannister army, the show’s stunt coordinators make the clash of sword and shield look flawless.


Washington Nationals Screech Game Of Thrones Mascot On Fire Dragon Bobblehead
Washington Nationals Screech Game Of Thrones Mascot On Fire Dragon Bobblehead /

Washington Nationals Screech Game Of Thrones Mascot On Fire Dragon Bobblehead

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Stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam has been a part of the show since season 5, and told Entertainment Weekly he’s got one goal when it comes to planning a fight scene: “I always want the audience to sit there, and when they see something, to go, ‘Aww, f*ck me. I’m always trying for the ‘f*ck me’ moment.”

You know, he’s succeeded a lot

Irlam and his team have been responsible for such memorable moments as Ser Author Dayne dual-wielding swords against a young Ned Stark, the blistering battle of the bastards, and making Maisie Williams look like a badass assassin when Arya dueled with Brienne.

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While stuntpeople are used in a lot of the fights, Irlam’s team also works with the cast on their technique. “They’ve cast some very talented actors that can actually do their own fights. Sometimes you have to hold them back a little.”

"Kristofer [Hivju, who plays Tormund] is very full-on, but in a very positive way. He’ll go, ‘Hey, Rowley, I’ve got this great idea. I think I’m gonna jump on this guy and kick this guy in the head!’ And you have to go, ‘No, no, Kristofer, we can’t do that.’"

All I want now is to see Tormund do a flying kick at the Night King’s head. Make it happen, team.

Per Irlam, Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont) “is a very serious actor, and he’s very physical.” Apparently, the stunt people lucky enough to work with Glen call the bruises they get from fighting him a “Jorah badge of honor.”

In Irlam’s line of work, there’s always potential for serious injury, so he and his team take special precautions. “It needs to look like a complete maniacal riot, but you have to make sure that no one gets so much as a chipped tooth or a sprained ankle. We’re trying to make it look as dangerous as possible, but we also try to keep it as safe as possible.”

Speaking of safe, the stuntpeople and actors all have a safeword, in case someone gets seriously hurt.

"When we’re doing these battles and people are screaming and crying and dying, you might not know if anyone’s in trouble. So our safe word was always ‘banana.’ If someone started shouting ‘banana!’ at the top of their voice, you’d know they’re in trouble."

Now I’m imagining Kit Harington (Jon Snow) yelling “banana!” at the top of his lungs while he was being buried in the mound of bodies in the Battle of the Bastards. And I love it.

Game of Thrones season 8 makes its long-awaited debut on April 14.

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