Game of Thrones stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam won an Emmy for his work on season 5 of HBO’s hit show, and it should be obvious why. He successfully coordinated the barbecuing of 20 people, and none of them died. That’s award-worthy, if you ask me.
In a recent interview dug up by Watchers on the Wall, Irlam discusses what he considered one of the most dangerous Game of Thrones stunts — a season 5 sequence where the most bonkers-looking of Daenerys’ dragons protects her from an assassination plot. Since he’s a dragon, he does that by swooping down and lighting a bunch of would-be assassins on fire.
"We set fire to 20 guys in one day and used a 45-foot flame thrower on a motion control crane so we could control the dragon,” Irlam recalled, adding that he was pretty sure it was an on-set record for Game of Thrones. “We’ve done a lot of fire stuff.”
The Harpies vs. Drogon face-off in Daznak’s Pit was a season highlight, but if you’re having trouble differentiating it from the half-dozen other situations where Dany’s dragons lit her problems on fire, there’s no shame there. Here’s a clip to refresh your memory:
Irlam went on to explain that the shoot was very safe, even though half the people in it were aflame: “We would never do anything recklessly… You do have tiny nicks and bumps and hands get knocked with the sword but we don't have any big accidents as we always make sure everyone knows what it going to happen next."
But to contradict those words of comfort for a second: Game of Thrones art director Christina Moore said in March that she was also on set that day, and can still remember the impressive heat, as well as the fact that 19 people suffered burn injuries. So apparently one stunt person made it out totally unharmed. Probably not the guys on the right here.
Presumably one of the other “bumps” Irlam was referring to is the much-blogged-about season 6 incident in which Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) accidentally punched Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton) in the face more than one time.
Or he could be talking about David Nutter — a frequent Game of Thrones director best known for “Mother’s Mercy,” the Emmy-winning season 5 finale, and “The Rains of Castamere,” the infamous season 3 episode where this happens. He also directed “The Dance of Dragons,” the episode in which this huge flamethrower stunt appears. At the time, Nutter told People that he would not be returning to direct any episodes for season 6 because the shoot was so physically demanding that he was going to need knee surgery.
Another “nick” for the sake of good TV, I guess! In any case, Nutter will reportedly be back for season 7, which premieres on HBO on July 16th. He’s fine.