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SYFY WIRE Game of Thrones

Maisie Williams did her own choreography and more secrets from the Battle of Winterfell

By Jacob Oller
Arya Stark Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones pulled a lot of shocking stunts over the course of the Battle of Winterfell in “The Long Night,” which aired on Sunday. Some of them pleased fans while others riled them up — if they could see them at all. But there were so many cool moments that it was hard to sit still after the credits rolled without wondering how those behind the show pulled them off.

** WARNING: Spoilers from the Game of Thrones episode “The Long Night” follow **

Thankfully, the people behind the HBO fantasy juggernaut released a gigantic video documenting the episode’s three-month production, entitled “Game Revealed.” And there’s certainly a lot to go through — almost as much as the episode’s hour-and-a-half runtime. SYFY WIRE watched all 40 minutes of the featurette so you don’t have to and pulled out all the good bits (though fans can still watch the behind-the-scenes video in its entirety below):

As if Arya didn’t get a cool enough moment crunching the Night King into a million shards, she also fought off dozens of wights and even had some stealth action sneaking through a library. That latter sequence owed more to actress Maisie Williams than it might appear, as episode director Miguel Sapochnik explained that the scene’s tonal shift was by design — but Williams’ choreography was all her doing.

“We designed the library in a certain way and then took Maisie in there,” Sapochnik said. “I got nine wights or something in there and I gave them all a path. Then I told her she had to make her way through it without being seen.” So Arya’s sneakery? That’s just Williams doing her best to get out alive. “We figured out this whole choreographed piece where everything was a near miss,” Sapochnik said of the scene’s realistic escape.

Another piece of unexpected realism comes from the fall of fan favorite Lyanna Mormont. Bella Ramsey’s “David and Goliath” giant-slaying moment, as she calls it, wasn’t just great CGI. There was a giant performer, Ian Whyte, who acted the scene in front of a green screen. He picked up a doll representing Lyanna and was shot in a way that seemed to double his scale. That mo-capped scene was used to drive a robotic arm carrying Ramsey, which was filmed and combined with Whyte’s performance (along with a nice helping of computer effects) to create a death fit for the young warrior.

Tormund Giantsbane almost died during the battle, but to listen to actor Kristofer Hivju tell it, he died numerous times — just not in takes that made the cut. “We said to the stunt guys, ‘If you manage to get me down, take me down.’ So in some takes, I died,” the actor said with a laugh. That dedication to realism was accidentally carried over even into the crypt beneath the battle when the Night King raised the long-dead bodies entombed there.

“There was one point where I had to run through a crowd of people and wights were coming out,” Sansa Stark actress Sophie Turner said. “One came up to me and I actually started crying, I was so scared. Whenever I get scared I just cry, and it was so awful. Those wights are horrible, just as scary in real life. I hate them.” Don’t worry, Sansa, it seems like all of Thrones’ undead problems have been solved... for now.

Game of Thrones returns for the fourth episode of its final season on May 5.