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‘Game Of Thrones’ Director Miguel Sapochnik Talks Season 6 Finale – ‘The Winds Of Winter’

Sunday night’s “Game of Thrones” Season 6 finale
was a triumphant episode for the franchise, delivering an epic and thrilling 69 minutes of television.

Jon Snow became King In The North, Cersei Lannister was
crowned Queen and took her seat on the Iron Throne, Arya Stark got revenge on
Walder Frey, Bran Stark learned his half-brother is actually his cousin,
several characters were killed off and Daenerys Targaryen and her fleet set off
for Westeros. Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the previous week’s “Battle
of the Bastards” episode, masterfully helmed the finale too, which told the story in
remarkable ways, including several scenes without any dialogue.

In a new interview (conducted via email), Access Hollywood
asked the director about telling parts of the story in that way. Sapochnik also revealed some interesting behind-the-scenes details, including how one actress’ speech in a scene
got her a standing ovation.

Miguel Sapochnik and Robert Aramayo as Young Ned Stark on the set of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6
Miguel Sapochnik and Robert Aramayo as Young Ned Stark on the set of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

READ: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 6 Finale Q&A: Isaac Hempstead Wright On The Jon Snow Reveal & More!

AccessHollywood.com: There are a number of moments in the
finale that have no dialogue or very, very limited dialogue — from the opening
montage at King’s Landing, to Tommen’s death, to the ending sequence on the ships — how challenging was it to do
those scenes knowing they had to pack a dramatic punch without dialogue to go
off of?
Miguel Sapochnik:
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of smart and witty dialogue. This is
something that ‘GOT’ is
probably quite famous for and rightly so, but I love non-verbal film making more
than anything probably.

Those
moments of silence that speak a thousand words are often some of my favorite
moments in film. Like in ‘Heat,’ when Robert De Niro’s character decides to
turn around and go settle the score with his treacherous former partner. To me,
this is truly wonderful filmmaking. And so any opportunity I can get to try my
hand at that I welcome. From that perspective, I really hit the jackpot this year
and I’m very grateful.

PHOTOS: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Characters Who Have Died On The Show

Access: Jaime arrives back at King’s Landing and sees
part of King’s Landing burnt to ash. He got his nickname, the Kingslayer, by
killing the Mad King, who had threatened to unleash the wildfire way back when.
He walks in and his beloved sister, who was behind the wildfire plot that was
just carried out, is being crowned the new Queen of Westeros, and their last
child is dead. My question is — tell me about your conversations with Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau (Jaime) and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) about what you wanted
from that moment and what you three were aiming for with that look they
exchange. 
Sapochnik:
The
wonderful thing about filmmaking is you make and remake your film or episode a
number of times over the duration of its existence. Firstly in the script
stage, second is in prep when you plan how you’re going to execute it. Third is
in production when you actually get there and have to change everything and
finally, in the edit, when you realize what you thought [something] meant means something
totally different when put before or after another juxtaposing or complimentary
image. It’s pretty awesome. Some say there’s one more stage which is the
marketing. I’d like to say that’s not true but it probably is!

Anyway,
I thought that non-verbal exchange was a very interesting moment but it wasn’t
clear from the script what exactly David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] wanted. So
we just tried a few things, following our noses, drawing from what we knew
about these characters and what you see was one of the versions we shot.
Interestingly in the edit I still couldn’t find a version I felt worked so I
actually dropped the moment entirely out of my cut but David and Dan reinstated
and to great effect. In fact, I can’t really remember the sequence without it
anymore. I think he’s saying ‘don’t’ and she’s saying ‘too late.’

Access: The King In The North scene was a huge highlight
from the episode, where after Lyanna Mormont’s speech (and by the way, Bella
Ramsey rocked!), everyone (except Petyr Baelish) proclaimed Jon Snow King In
The North…  How did you manage to make it so emotional? 
Sapochnik: It wasn’t
hard. I think as fans we’d been waiting for it for so long. That said, it was a
very difficult scene to shoot. Mainly because it was unusually hot over the two
days we shot it, everyone was wearing heavy furs and armor, Kit was actually
pretty ill and everyone was crammed into this space full of plates of sheep’s
tongues and chicken carcasses so it got quite smelly and sticky. It’s also
quite a long scene and yet Bella did it probably more than a hundred times, only
forgetting a line once in the entire time. When we finished the scene she got a
standing ovation from all the cast and crew.

Jolie Lash

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