With Game of Thrones season 8 just days away, the Game of Thrones ending is in sight, but as emotional as it’ll be for us, the fans, to say goodbye to the show, imagine what it must be like for the cast? It’s been 10 years of their lives (if they were in the show from the very beginning), so understandably, they have mixed emotions about saying goodbye to the world of Westeros. When I sat down with the cast earlier this year to quiz them about the final season, I couldn’t help but ask them about their last day of filming.
For some, their final day was incredibly emotional (“I was a mess,” says Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth), while for others, it was actually quite tedious (“Pickups of a scene I’d done four times already,” Conleth Hill, AKA Varys, tells me), and then there’s those who were inconsolable: “That was the day I realised that alcohol can also be a depressant,” reveals Emilia Clarke, who plays Iron Throne frontrunner Daenerys Targaryen.
No matter what happened on their last day of filming, the Game of Thrones cast reveals what went down, how they felt, and what they did after they wrapped for the final time in their own words. Just be warned, there’s lots of [crying noises] in these quotes below. Oh, and creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss gave everyone a storyboard of their most important scene as a farewell gift, but no one would tell us what scenes they got because spoilers! That’s probably for the best...
Liam Cunningham - AKA Davos Seaworth
“It was incredibly emotional. It was very weird. Personally, even though I’m not British, I was trying to keep a British, stiff upper lip. But it didn’t last. I got a Katherine Hepburn vibrato in my voice, and it was downhill from there. It was incredibly emotional.”
Gwendoline Christie - AKA Brienne of Tarth
“On my last day, I was a mess [laughs]. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine with this. Yeah, I’ll be fine with this. Just fine. Just keep breathing quite deeply. Just rationalise, and I’ll be fine.’ But looking around at these people, it’s desperately sad. But endings are.”
Maisie Williams - AKA Arya Stark
“My final day was actually the final day of shooting for most of the crew, besides a little splinter unit that were going to be doing little pickups. So it was quite an emotional day for everyone. The scene that we shot, Arya was alone, and it was so serene, and a really slow careful scene, which isn’t what I get very often. It’s usually hacking and hammering.
“It was really sensitive, and that was lovely, to be able to do that on my final day, because I felt quite fragile that day anyway. But yeah, they called ‘cut’ and… I don’t know... I’d watched everyone wrap. I’d been there for everyone else’s wrap, and had shed tears. I think, for me, I knew at that moment that I wasn’t ready to say [goodbye]. I wasn’t ready to feel that emotional at once. It definitely happened for the weeks trickling after, when I was, say, on my sofa and had unpacked my case for the final time.
“You know, little moments like that – that was when it really started to settle in. and even now, the more I get asked about it, and the more I talk about the end of the show, the weight of it just comes very slowly. I do think I’ll be on the red carpet bawling my eyes out. That’s when I’m finally going to be [makes crying noise]. So it’ll be a year too late. It’s going to take a little while I think.”
Jacob Anderson - AKA Grey Worm
“It was a very bittersweet thing, I think. I think for a lot of us… you know, everyone had different last days. It was a very long shoot, so everyone was knackered, kind of to a level that maybe people hadn’t felt before on anything they’d ever worked on. So you’re really ready to go home, but at the same time, the weight of... I cried on my last day, and I never thought that that would happen. It just suddenly hit me that I wasn’t going to see these people every year. It felt like the last day of school.”
Joe Dempsie - AKA Gendry
“You have no idea how you’re going to react until it actually happens, until they call wrap on your last day. And yeah, I thought I would be fine, because I’ve been out of it for those three years in the middle. I was like, ‘It’s just a job.'' And then I saw— I’m generally OK until I see someone else trying not to cry.”
Sophie Turner - AKA Sansa Stark
“My last day was in Spain. We’d been shooting this really long scene for five days in the heat. And I was like, ‘Please just wrap me, so that I can be over and done with it.’ And I didn’t really feel emotional up to that point. I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to have a reaction. I don’t feel sad yet.’
“And then they called wrap, and David and Dan come out. They give everyone a storyboard of their favourite scene of the character. They have this note written on the back, and they make a speech about you as a person and an actor and about your character. And I was just like [makes noise like a tap running with water] pshhhhhhhh – inconsolable for hours and hours and hours and hours. And still… I’m struggling.”
Conleth Hill - AKA Varys
“Not emotional at all. Pickups of a scene I’d done four times already. So quite tedious. I was trying to be brave for everyone else. ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.’”
Carice van Houten - AKA Melisandre
“I was very emotional, which I didn’t think I was going to be at all. I did feel it, like, ‘It’s funny, it’s ending. It’s a funny feeling.’ But in the end, I was just in tears and tears and tears. But as I said at another table talk, it was also just seven years of my life just passing by. What happened is, it’s all connected to all these people, and all these situations and locations. There’s so many memories everywhere. That, for me, was quite an emotional moment.”
Hannah Murray - AKA Gilly
“It was a really weird feeling, because we knew for months that there was going to be a last day and a last take, but you kind of can’t prepare yourself for that actual moment. I also think there were seven things I had to do immediately after. They were like, ‘OK, you’re done, but now you have to do EPK, and you have to do the behind-the-scenes video.’
“So it took a while before I got a moment to be really still and take in that it had actually been that final moment. But yeah, it was very overwhelming. There’s a celebratory feeling to it, because you’re so proud to have come so far with this show, and to have completed this story. But it’s very sad as well. I had lots of goodbyes to say to people, and that’s very bittersweet. Yeah, the whole thing was very emotional.”
John Bradley - AKA Samwell Tarly
“I didn’t wrap in Belfast. I wrapped somewhere else. Quite a few other people wrapped that day. So that was a shared experience as well. But I remember just feeling emotionally exhausted. This is going back to the hotel with people; we knew we were going to a party, but it just didn’t feel like there was anything to celebrate. I didn’t feel in a celebratory mood.
“I felt like I just needed time to process things a little bit. And yeah, it was one of the most emotional experiences ever. And you know, when we all wrapped, David and Dan presented us with these storyboards that were our wrap gift, and we’ll cherish them. And they said a few words about us, about each of us. They found a way of making it so personal and sincere. And I just looked at them as they were talking about me and talking about my cast members, and just thinking, ‘You’ve really changed my life, you two. I don’t know what would have happened if I wasn’t in this. I don’t know what I would be doing now. But you changed the entire course of my life.’”
Gemma Whelan - AKA Yara Greyjoy
“It was quite emotional. I had my baby with me. So I just went and fed my baby. Changed her nappy, fed the baby. But it was very emotional to finish, to wrap your last scene. It’s a very emotional moment. They gave everybody, I believe, as they wrapped their character, at whatever stage of the season – we were all given a little gift by the showrunners, and they made a little speech – particularly for us.
“We were given a gift and a round of applause. So it was really beautifully marked. We were really given a very final, beautiful moment that sort of signified that this is where the journey ends. Everybody felt that they were appreciated, and were sent off correctly.
“Often, on other things, you say, ‘That’s a wrap on Gemma. Thank you very much. We’re moving onto the next scene.’ Which is fine, too. But I think after the sort of juggernaut that has been a Game of Thrones, to have a real mark of this is where it ended, and thank you very much – a very mutual Namaste, Namaste – was lovely.”
Iain Glen - AKA Jorah Mormont
“I was in floods of tears on my last filming day. I tried to reciprocate that to Dan and David. There’s all these really beautiful gifts – sort of storyboard things, from significant scenes that we’d been in. And then I finished that. ‘Bye.’ You just want to get away.
“And then I was on the way to the airport, when [impersonates phone call]. It’s one of the producers. ‘Yeah, Iain, now, listen, we think there’s a chance that you might have to come back. It’s just for coverage, to pick up this little bit where… We can greenscreen it, just to drop it in.’
“So I did that. I ended up coming back – I don’t know, I kid you not – five times. The fifth time, it was: ‘Give me a fucking break, will you?’”
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau - AKA Jaime Lannister
“I had a great last scene. It was absolutely beautiful. It was the perfect way to end. Obviously I can’t tell you what the scene was, but it was just perfect. It wasn’t the final scene, but you know, it was close to the end. We shot it in a beautiful location. At the end, at this point, I’d already seen quite a lot of colleagues wrap. So I’d seen a lot of tears, a lot of beautiful speeches.
“So I knew what to expect. And it was… I didn’t expect to be emotional. I don’t know. Something happened. I think I had an allergy. There was a little something in my eye. But it was great. it was just wonderful.”
Emilia Clarke - AKA Daenerys Targaryen
“It was super-emotional. That was the day I realised that alcohol can also be a depressant [laughs]. No, it was magical.
“If you end any movie; the last day of wrap is usually a close-up on your hand as you’re switching a button or something, where you’re like, ‘That’s it? That’s the lot?’ But this was a lovely scene, and it was one of those fake endings. The crew from some other stages had come in, because they knew it’d be my last scene. There were a few people filing in. And the director was like, ‘Oh, no, we actually need more, we actually need more, we actually need more.’ So it was a bunch of people being like, ‘We’ve been waiting for this scene to end for three hours.’
“But I would never normally do a little thing on wrap of any movie. I would never stand up and say anything. But for this, the boys gave us all a gift. Everyone got a goodbye. Every character got an official proper goodbye, with lots of people.
“Anyway, so I started to stay something, and just literally couldn’t get through the first sentence without bawling my eyes out. My brother, who’s in the crew, was recording it, and I heard it back. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you can’t listen to anything I’m saying. I’m just crying too much. Too, too much.’
“And then David and Dan had a big party. Every time a character would... [have] their last day, we would have a dinner, and everyone would get drunk. So that was the day when I was nursing a glass of wine, going, ‘I don’t feel any happier. I’m feeling really sad.’”
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on April 14 on HBO in the US and a day later on Sky Atlantic in the UK.
Get ready for the final season with our ultimate Game of Thrones recap or watch the video before to get caught up in 16 minutes.