In the eighth and final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, millions of viewers will finally know who takes the Iron Throne and with it, control over all of Westeros. By the tail end of season seven, there were plenty of contenders but some new information about the final season could change that. A new Entertainment Weekly interview with the cast and crew reveals that a major Game of Thrones battle in season eight that will happen at Winterfell could take some key Iron Throne contenders out of the game early and potentially change the course of season eight.
As reported by Entertainment Weekly, the biggest thing we learned was that Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams) will have a pivotal role in the Battle of Winterfell, which happens early in season eight. Williams was told a full year before filming on the final season began by episode director Miguel Sapochnik to “start training now because this is going to be really hard.”
Despite her character’s battle-ready role in the series, the Winterfell fight will mark her first time in the thick of things. Williams told EW, “I skip the battle every year, which is bizarre since Arya’s the one who’s been training the most. This is my first taste of it. And I’ve been thrown in at the deep end.”
Williams continued, “[N]othing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It’s night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn’t stop. You can’t get sick, and you have to look out for yourself because there’s so much to do that nobody else can do… there are moments you’re just broken as a human and just want to cry.”
Per EW, filming this fight was grueling for everyone, not just Williams. It took 11 weeks of night shoots to complete principal photography, with below-freezing temperatures and plenty of wind, rain and mud.
“It was the most unpleasant experience I’ve had on Thrones,” said Iain Glen, who plays Ser Jorah Mormont. “A real test, really miserable. … But without getting too method [acting] about it, on screen it bleeds through to the reality of the Thrones world.”
“Everybody prays they never have to do this again,” added Rory McCann, who plays The Hound on the show.
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GAME OVER: We’re preparing to say goodbye to #GameOfThrones with the ultimate fan guide, featuring 16 epic covers of your favorite characters. Swipe 👈 to see some of our covers featuring #EmiliaClarke, #KitHarington, #SophieTurner, #PeterDinklage, and more. Click the link in our bio to get exclusive intel on the final episodes in our top secret report from the set, and pick up an issue on newsstands starting 3/8. Story by James Hibberd. 📷: @marchomstudio for EW
The great battle of Winterfell pits a massive contingent of allies — including Arya, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) — against the Night King and his Army of the Dead as they march south. It makes sense that this battle is so massive — aside from the wall, Winterfell is Westeros’ first defense in the north.
According to EW, the episode chronicling this fight is expected to be “the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film.” It also brings together the largest number of major characters together since Game of Thrones premiered way back in 2011.
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It’s our biggest #GameOfThrones issue ever! 🙌🏽 In honor of season 8, we put together the ultimate fan guide featuring rare photos and exclusive intel from the set of the final episodes. Swipe 👈 to see some of our 16 (!!) covers featuring Bran Stark, The Mountain, The Hound, The Night King, and more. Click the link in our bio to read our cover story, and pick up an issue on newsstands starting 3/8. Story by James Hibberd. 📷: @marchomstudio for EW
It will also take place on a brand-new Winterfell set that is apparently very impressive. “The Winterfell set is unlike anything I’ve seen in my life,” said Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson. “It’s not like most sets you walk through a door and you see [a wood panel] and equipment. You can walk into rooms and cross into tunnels and find yourself in another part of the castle. It’s really immersive. Especially when there is haze and snow and people running around, you can get genuinely lost. There were a few moments where I momentarily forgot it wasn’t real, which is bizarre.”
With each new piece of information revealed in the lead-up to Game of Thrones season eight premiering Sunday, April 14, the tension increases exponentially. Although we have no way of knowing who will win or even who will survive, we’re on the edges of our seats — and knowing that characters like Anya are finally going to see battle makes us all the more excited.