The man who played the Night King on shooting the exhausting Battle of Winterfell

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

Vladimir Furdik wasn’t always the Night King on Game of Thrones. In fact, before he traded up, the stuntman actually played the White Walker Jon Snow killed in season 5’s “Hardhome.” That was the last time Furdik’s predecessor, Richard Brake, donned the mantle of the leader of the army of the dead.


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Furdik spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about his history with the character, and about the Night King’s demise at the hands of Arya Stark. “It was a very emotional day and night,” he said.
“It was so strong. I spent all my energy playing it, and she as well. It was not an easy day. It was cold. There was rain. She was on a wire, in a harness, jumping many times. It wasn’t just the one time; it was maybe 15 times.”

And it wasn’t just Arya’s leap that challenged the actors. Furdik had to hold Williams in just the right spot under her jaw, so it would look like, for a moment, the Night King was about to kill Arya.

"[W]e had to spend a lot of energy on that particular scene. It was very, very difficult. We are very good friends. We know each other. It wasn’t easy for me to [pretend to] hurt her. When I grabbed her under the jaw, it wasn’t easy [on a practical level]. If you make a bad move — if you don’t grab her well — she could have an injury. So I was under pressure and she was under pressure. It was not an easy day."

Makes sense why they’d need a stuntman for the job.

When he learned the Night King was going to die in “The Long Night,” Furdik wasn’t phased. “I just followed the role,” he said. “There’s a director, and there are the writers who are writing the script. I just follow what they want.” He also didn’t have time to be upset, because he’s a member of the stunt team. “Every fight that happens in this battle, it goes through my hands and the other [stunt team members’] hands.”

"Weeks before, they said to me, ‘Vlad, you will be the Night King for three or four days.’ I said, ‘Okay. What exactly am I going to do?’ They said, ‘This, this, and this.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And I did it. Every episode, it’s the same. I don’t try to think so much [about the character]. I had many good lessons with the director. I trained in my department to play the Night King. Then I went to the set, and I did exactly what they wanted."

Still, saying that he played the Night King for “three or four days” may be downplaying it. Furdik was on set prep work for the shoot for a month, and then he spent a month on a closed set reshooting stuff. “This was one of the hardest jobs of my life. We had meetings with [the individual actors for their own battles], depending on who’s fighting with who: Jorah (Iain Glen), Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), and what they are doing,” he explained. “For every battle with these actors, we prepared exactly the movements for them. Every kill, and every move they made, was prepared over weeks and weeks, and hours and hours. We were so busy. Every move that happens doesn’t happen just because; it happens because we prepared it. Every jump — everything.”

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Finally, is there anything Furdik miss about playing the embodiment of death?

"I will miss the people who helped me to be the Night King. This was the costume and make-up departments who helped me to be the man who was out in front of the camera. You might not know it, but it’s maybe 25 or 30 people who helped me be that man, with the prosthetics, the make-up, the camera department, the lightning. I miss these people. It would be a very hard day and I would think, ‘I would like to go home.’ But after one week home? You start missing these people."

Dawww. So the Night King does have a heart.

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