WARNING: Game of Thrones season six spoilers
The war scene in Game of Thrones’ latest episode, Battle of the Bastards, was easily one of most cinematically impressive scenes in the series’ history – but its success wasn’t all down to the magic of CGI.
The minute-long gory battle shot of Jon Snow being crushed by a pile of dead bodies is what will be remembered by viewers, and that’s all thanks to genuine fear.
Turns out that being buried alive is Kit Harrington’s biggest fear, and for the sake of a great performance, Game of Thrones’ director Miguel Sapochnik used it against him.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Sapochnik said:
Kit had mentioned to me that his worst fear is being buried alive, so I exploited that to its fullest — and being the amazing game player that he is, he let me.
Thematically, it represented a rebirth.
We actually shot a little section where he just gives up, the light disappears above him and for 30 seconds he’s in darkness and he closes his eyes, then something sparks and he starts to fight back.
And it seems like being genuinely scared actually makes for a great scene.
Sapochnik praised Harington for allowing him to make the actor truly uncomfortable:
I’ve been lucky enough to do two major sequences with him and he’s not only really really good at what he does, but he’s got humility, a sense of humor and a work ethic that is like a breath of fresh air for a director. I wish I could work with him on everything.
So there you have it. Want a truly memorable scene? Scare the shit out of your actors and use their greatest fears against them.