If you’re making a list of iconic Game of Thrones moments, certain ones jump out. Obviously Ned Stark getting beheaded at the end of the first season has to be on there, and I don’t know how you’d leave off Cersei Lannister’s infamous Walk of Shame. But if you could only choose one moment, I’d venture to guess that most fans would pick the Red Wedding from “The Rains of Castamere,” the season 3 episode where Robb, Catelyn and the Starks were betrayed onto the death by the villainous Walder Frey.
It was just a turn you didn’t see coming. This isn’t supposed to happen to the good guys. Who builds up the stories of multiple characters only to have a second-stringer villain off them at a wedding? George R.R. Martin went there in his Song of Ice and Fire books, and Game of Thrones followed.
The man behind the camera for that sequence was David Nutter, who was behind a lot of iconic moments from the series, including the attack on Daznak’s Pit and the calm before the storm in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Speaking on a panel with other directors of episodic television, he remembered the high he got watching people react to the slaughter:
Directors in television don’t often get reviews because you’re directing television. But we worked very hard on the episode and thought it had turned out well, but what came after that I didn’t expect. What came after that was YouTube exploded and people who had read the books were shooting their friends watching the episode. It was amazing to see people’s reactions to what I had done. That was something that mattered to me quite a bit because I realized I could get the audience to care about something. And if they do that, they’ll jump into the show all the way. With Game of Thrones, we’d spent three long years building that background and that relationship with the audience, and I think we hit a home run and that was a real joyful moment.
The YouTube compilation of people reacting to the Red Wedding is almost as famous as the Red Wedding itself, and still brings a smile to your face all these years later…I mean, a smile because you remember these exciting times, not because you’re happy they’re upset:
The panel, which also included Game of Thrones veteran Michelle MacLaren, was put on by the Directors Guild of America. Hopefully they’ll release some clips soon!