The Night King has been killed by Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) at the end of director Miguel Sapochnik’s “The Long Night.” It’s hard to imagine the future of the series without this frozen force of nature lingering in the shadows. Then again, it’s easy to forget the Night King wasn’t always an active threat in the Game of Thrones universe.
First introduced in the closing moments of season four’s “Oathkeeper,” the Night King’s debut offered fans a highly punchable face to represent White Walker nation — a meaningful deviation from George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, which has yet to reveal an individual force of evil leading the Army of the Dead. The Night King’s subsequent appearances in David Benioff and Dan Weiss’ HBO drama only increased growing hype levels for the blue-eyed bad guy, what with his arms-up splash in season five’s “Hardhome,” followed by his barn-burning destruction of Max von Sydow’s Three-Eyed Raven in season six’s “The Door.” Vladimir Furdik spoke with THR about his experience.
How did you become the Night King?
They gave me the call. They asked me, “Would you like to be the Night King?” I said, “Yes, I can be the Night King.” That’s it!
That’s it? Simple enough!
I worked on the show [before], and they were happy with my performance with what I did. They asked if I’d like to be the Night King. I tell it to you in the simple, easy way because you gave me the simple, easy question. (Laughs.) They knew me, they decided to give me the role, and I said yes.
Did they tell you much about the character — his motivations, his goals?
No, they didn’t give me [much]. There were a couple of discussions with the directors, but nothing particular about what he was supposed to do. They built the Night King step by step. It’s something like how you put a plant in the ground, and you’re waiting to see how the plant [turns out].
How did you approach playing the Night King? He doesn’t say much, but he says a lot with just a look.
The mask informed a lot. If you have a good director, it’s easy. A good director will direct you exactly and will you what you need to do. It’s not so difficult. It can be difficult on a set, but not if you have a good support [system]. When I get to the set, I feel comfortable. Maybe the day before? I’m a little bit scared of how it will be. But when they give me the costume and the makeup, and when I go to the set and meet with the director, I feel like I can do anything.
Were you surprised when you learned this episode would end with the Night King’s death?
For me? It was not really important. Well, it was important, and it wasn’t important. I just followed the role. There’s a director, and there are the writers who are writing the script. I just follow what they want. Because I’m part of the stunt team, I don’t have much time to think about being the Night King. I have to perform a lot of [other] fights. I was there from the beginning to the end of [the shoot]. Every fight that happens in this battle, it goes through my hands and the other [stunt team members’] hands. Weeks before, they said to me, “Vlad, you will be the Night King for three or four days.” I said, “Okay. What exactly am I going to do?” They said, “This, this, and this.” And I said, “Okay.” And I did it. Every episode, it’s the same. I don’t try to think so much [about the character]. I had many good lessons with the director. I trained in my department to play the Night King. Then I went to the set, and I did exactly what they wanted.
What went into preparing to work with Maisie on the final scene in which Arya kills the Night King?
It was a very emotional day and night. It was so strong. I spent all my energy playing it, and she as well. It was not an easy day. It was cold. There was rain. She was on a wire, in a harness, jumping many times. It wasn’t just the one time; it was maybe 15 times. When I have to hold her under the jaw and it looks like she dies, we had to spend a lot of energy on that particular scene. It was very, very difficult. We are very good friends. We know each other. It wasn’t easy for me to [pretend to] hurt her. When I grabbed her under the jaw, it wasn’t easy [on a practical level]. If you make a bad move — if you don’t grab her well — she could have an injury. So I was under pressure and she was under pressure. It was not an easy day.
The Night King is dead now. What will you miss the most about the character and about Game of Thrones?
What will I miss? (Long pause.) I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for this. Nothing.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
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