It’s almost hard to imagine that the Night King in Game of Thrones is an original creation for the series and not actually in George R.R. Martin’s books. But he (it?) is. The character was originally introduced in Season 4 and first played by Richard Brake, then later played by Vladimir Furdik.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss explained why they created the character for the series. In short, they liked the idea that the White Walkers weren’t these ancient things that had been around since the beginning of time. They had a history—and an origin that could be easily traced back to the recent past.
“We’ve seen what the White Walkers do, we’ve seen how they perpetuate themselves and created the wights,” said Weiss. “If you’re going backwards, well, they made these things … so what made them? We always liked the implication that they weren’t some kind of cosmic evil that had been around since the beginning [of] time but that the White Walkers had a history — that something that seems legendary and mythological and permanent wasn’t."
Weiss went on to explain that the White Walkers "had a historical cause that was comprehensible like the way the wars on screen we’re seeing unfold are comprehensible. They’re the result of people, or beings, with motivations we can understand.”
“And once you go back into that flashback scene, that required a person there — and that was Vlad, who for a long time was our best stuntman,” Benioff added, in reference to Furdik.
Benioff noted that he doesn’t think of the Night King as evil, but “as Death.”
“And that’s what he wants — for all of us,” Benioff added. “It’s why he was created and that’s what he’s after.”
Fans will have to wait just a little while longer to see what happens when the Night King leads his army of undead White Walkers (along with an undead dragon!) to Westeros. Winter is indeed coming.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its final season beginning Sunday, April 14.