The last 'Game of Thrones' column: What we learned from the postseason documentary

  • Kit Harington, foreground, and "Game of Thrones" co-stars Sophie Turner and Rory McCann react during the final season's table read as they learn that Arya (Maisie Williams, not pictured) will slay the Night King in Episode 3.

    Kit Harington, foreground, and "Game of Thrones" co-stars Sophie Turner and Rory McCann react during the final season's table read as they learn that Arya (Maisie Williams, not pictured) will slay the Night King in Episode 3. Courtesy of HBO

 
 
Posted5/31/2019 6:00 AM

We learned in last Sunday's postseason documentary "Game of Thrones: The Last Watch" that Kit Harington took the end of his tenure on the HBO show particularly hard.

"I feel like my heart is breaking," the Jon Snow actor says in the documentary, tearfully addressing the cast and crew after completing his final shot. "I love this show. More than I think anything."

 

It's the most emotional moment in a two-hour chronicle of the final season's production, made even more poignant by what we learned Tuesday: Harington checked into a "wellness retreat" to work on "personal issues," as reported by the Associated Press. The New York Post elaborated on those issues, though one can guess what they might be after a grueling press tour and a not-so-well-received ending for the show.

If that final episode left you wanting, "The Last Watch," directed by award-winning filmmaker Jeanie Finlay, will not. Far from a talking-heads DVD bonus feature, "The Last Watch" follows every aspect of production and makes main characters out of people who never appear on camera.

Del Reid's job title on "Game of Thrones" was Head of Snow -- as in fake snow, not Jon Snow.
Del Reid's job title on "Game of Thrones" was Head of Snow -- as in fake snow, not Jon Snow. - Courtesy of HBO

One of those people is Del Reid, whose title is Head of Snow -- as in the fake snow used on set, not the illegitimate son of Ned Stark. Reid and others interviewed in the doc make it clear that, while "Game of Thrones" is the biggest TV show in the world, it still operates on TV budgets and deadlines. At one point, Reid asks for a paper towel, but tells his co-worker to only give him one sheet: "Don't waste it, don't waste it!"

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Other things we learned from "The Last Watch":

• Direwolves run at 30 mph, according to an assistant talking with executive producer Bernadette Caulfield.

• It took seven months to build the King's Landing set that was destroyed by Drogon in Episode 5, and it was constructed in the parking lot of Titanic Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland -- and was overlooked by a Ferris wheel.

Look familiar? No? You've seen Vladimir Furdik before, but he was probably wearing the icy blue makeup that turns him into the "Game of Thrones" supervillain known as the Night King.
Look familiar? No? You've seen Vladimir Furdik before, but he was probably wearing the icy blue makeup that turns him into the "Game of Thrones" supervillain known as the Night King. - Courtesy of HBO

• The Night King also helped choreograph the climactic battle between Sandor (Rory McCann) and Gregor (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) Clegane. Vladimir Furdik, who plays the zombie leader, is also one of the show's lead stuntmen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
David Nutter directed three of the final six episodes of "Game of Thrones."
David Nutter directed three of the final six episodes of "Game of Thrones." - Courtesy of HBO

• Almost no one on set got paper copies of the script. An assistant is seen shredding them after the actors' first table read, and the crew consults iPads while shooting. Director David Nutter, who says in the doc that the show literally saved his life, is a rare exception.

• Emilia Clarke's platinum Khaleesi wig is a carry-on item when it must be flown to Iceland.

• "Everybody realizes that 'Game of Thrones' has to finish because it just cannot get any bigger," according to production designer Deborah Riley.

• If you take a "Game of Thrones" locations tour in Belfast, your tour guide might be Andrew McClay, a perennial background artist -- extra -- who formed a friendship with Harington during his years as a Stark guard. If the documentary has a star, McClay is it. Let's hope "The Last Watch" isn't the end of his screen career.

• Follow Sean on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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