Game of Thrones: The Last Watch (HBO)
Are you done bashing the Game of Thrones finale? Because you might want to dial down the vitriolic attacks a bit after The Last Watch, the two-hour documentary that looks at an army of craftspeople tasked with turning the fantasy world of Westeros into a tangible reality for the series’ eighth and final season.
When you see the blood, sweat, and tears that the crew had shed, you feel awful dissing the show: You can blame the narrative missteps on creators David Benioff and DB Weiss all you want, but don’t drag the amazing and dedicated artisans through the mud.
But The Last Watch by British documentarian Jeanie Finlay — who spent a year shadowing the monster production in Northern Ireland, Spain, Croatia, and Iceland — is no by-the-numbers EPK-type promotional reel.
Hers is an intimate fly-on-the-wall piece that eschewed interviews with the marquee actors (who’ve already inundated press tours and talk shows with their bittersweet GOT memories), focusing instead on the background players and their experience of making the show.
From the fake snow-maker (yes, Head of Snow is a real job title) to the make-up experts to the lady operating the food truck, they were the unsung heroes who kept the well-oiled machine running, ordinary folks who contributed ceaselessly to an extraordinary show notwithstanding an unsatisfying finale. (***1/2)
Here are six things we learnt from The Last Watch:
1/ Kit Harington is a really sensitive guy.
The first time Harington discovered that Jon Snow would kill his lover/aunt Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, in the final ep ‘The Iron Throne’ was during the table read. Judging from Harington’s visibly shocked reaction, he clearly didn’t see that coming. Frankly, neither did we.
2/ Welcome to the Heart Attack Van.
That’s the nickname of the food truck where the GOT production crew got their snacks and beverages. One of the most popular item on the menu: Tiger Toast, which consisted of bacon, chicken, cheese, ham, tomato, onions, and tobacco onions, all on tiger bread. Not really healthy, but it's tasty.
3/ Sophie Ellis-Bextor was spotted at the Heart Attack Van.
View this post on Instagram
We fought the white walkers!! When @gameofthrones was filming the final season, @richardjonesface and I went to be extras. It was SO FUN. You couldn’t see us on the telly in the battle of episode 3, but I can assure you we gave it our all. R was very jealous of my armour but then again, he had dragon glass. Here’s to the northern army! Sad to see GOT finish but it’s been fun seeing the epic tale unfold. 💪🏻👌🏻👍🏻#gameofthrones #extras
The British singer, best known for her hits ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’, did a cameo in ‘The Long Night’ ep — which involved a gruelling shoot spanning 55 consecutive nights, said to be the longest consecutive battle sequence ever filmed — as one of the Northern Army soldiers battling the White Walkers. Alas, her appearance was left on the cutting room floor.
4/ All hail the Night King.
There is a bit on Vladimir Furdik, the hunky Slovak actor/stuntman who played the Night King. On being asked to play the zombie leader, Furdik recalled, “I didn’t hear ‘Night King,’ I just heard ‘king,’ and I said ‘I can be any king.” He was also on set to choreograph fight scenes, including the showdown between the Hound and the Mountain, aka Cleganebowl.
5/ Deploy the decoys.
Even though Harington, Furdik, and Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar) had nothing to do with ‘Dragon Pit’ sequence in ‘The Iron Throne’ ep, they were asked up to turn up for the filming in Spain, just to throw people off the scent. Wait, there were so many people on set and yet no one spotted the plastic bottles mistakenly left in the shot?
6/ Meet Andy McClay, the extra who goes the extra mile.
This vivacious bloke and die-hard GOT fan plays a recurring nameless Stark soldier (he called him Aberdall Strongbeard, after his ZZ Top fuzz), who first fought in ‘Battle of the Bastards’ and survived right through the final King’s Landing campaign. The real-life Andy Millman now works as a guide with Game of Thrones Tours.
Watch it on: HBO GO