New Game of Thrones Video Highlights the Insane Fire Stunts
We are a mere few weeks away from the April 14 season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones. We know how long each episode is. We know how long it takes to turn an actor into a White Walker. And now we know just what it takes to make a series in which dragons routinely burn people alive. The short answer is a record-breaking number of fire stunts.
While Game of Thrones boasts some of TV’s best CGI, the series has always relied on an incredible amount of practical effects. The 8th and final season, in particular, demanded more from the cast and crew than ever before, and that was especially true for the stunt team. Filming the largest battle in GoT‘s battle-heavy history required 750 people working in sub-freezing temperatures. At night. For weeks on end. That was just for one scene.
The GoT stunt folks know a lot about fire. In a show with not one but three dragons, you’d expect a lot of pyrotechnics. GoT delivers, and then some. “We’ve burned more people than anybody else,” says stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam. Doing this amount of pyrotechnic work requires Irlam and his team to be extra vigilant. They spend countless hours making sure everyone involved is safe, especially the poor folks who are going to be set on fire. These stunt performers even practice a “fire dance” before they’re engulfed in actual flames. They do this so they can accurately depict what it might be like to burn alive before they shoot the scene. Then once they are set on fire, they’ve got their moves down pat. The stunt performers are “only” burned for 15-seconds. This is to ensure there’s no significant “heat transfer,” as Irlam explains.
The burn victims on GoT wear a lot of protective gear. They’ve got three layers of a special type of underwear that won’t burn or melt like other fabrics. Their underwear is soaked in fireproof gel, which itself is cooled in a fridge until it’s nearly freezing. Then they put on three more suits on top of these (including a fire suit and a “boiler” suit) and then their costumes. They also wear latex masks on their faces with only a small hole to breathe through. These folks are swaddled in enough gear to make them nearly impenetrable to anything, but most importantly fire. It’s a wonder they can even move with all this stuff on.
The required number of burns has increased every season. Irlam and his team did 20 burns in one shot—then a record for TV. This was for the incredible Loot Train dragon attack. You can expect even more flaming people in the final season.
“Fear is really good,” Irlam says. “Fear will keep you safe. You need to channel that fear and use that energy to achieve what you want to achieve.” The stunt team is a big reason why Game of Thrones has become a global phenomenon.
Check out the video here:
Featured image: Episode 66 (season 7, episode 6), debut 8/20/17. Photo: courtesy of HBO