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“I wanted to kill everyone” in the Battle of Winterfell, reveals director Miguel Saponchik

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Remember all the cribbing about “too few deaths” in the Battle of Winterfell? Director Miguel Saponchik agrees. The long-time Game of Thrones director who helmed Season 8 episode 3 ‘The Long Night’, told Indiewire’s Filmmaker Toolkit Podcast that he was perfectly up for killing “everyone” in the battle, but showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss did not agree.

Have it from Saponchik’s own words:

“I wanted to kill everyone. I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I was up for killing absolutely everyone. I wanted it to be ruthless, so that in the first 10 minutes you say, ‘All bets are off; anyone could die.’ And David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that.”

The Battle of Winterfell, while being a high point of the show, has been criticized on several grounds, and an unbelievably small death toll is one of them. A lot of characters did die in the episode, but all the main characters survived, including someone as inept as Samwell Tarly, which did not make sense for a battle supposedly so deadly. Looks like Saponchik also thought the same.

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But unlike angry fans who wanted Season 8 to be remade entirely, Saponchik is at peace with the way things worked out. In speaking of his creative equation with creators Benioff and Weiss, Saponchik says:

“It was a sustained engagement. I got to really question and argue with them, and I’ve learned with them when to stop arguing because there comes a point when they dig in and you just don’t want to be there.” 

At the end of the day, Game of Thrones is Benioff and Weiss’ show and their vision. As Saponchik says:

“I didn’t come up with the show and make it. I am a hired director to go and do that. They have let me in and let me be involved, and I’ve really loved doing that. But final cut is not mine. Final cut is theirs; it’s their choice.”

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Humility is a virtue possessed by few. Even though Game of Thrones reached great heights, the show’s cast was always humble to their roots. They have won the admiration and respect of fans all over the world due to their down-to-earth nature. For example, Jason Momoa reached out to a young Aquaman fan battling cancer last year. Kristian Nairn (Hodor) talked to Digital Spy about the show’s success and praised his co-stars.

He said, “It didn’t happen overnight, and I think for us that was a good thing. I mean it was always immensely popular, I just think as the seasons went on it moved from a really amazing TV show into a kind of phenomenon. It sort of turned into that thing that everyone talks about, people say over the watercooler at work. “

“It’s crazy, because every TV show you watch these days, every single TV show or movie, they all reference Game of Thrones. It always blows me away. I watch a show I love and there’s a reference to Hodor, there’s a reference to Khaleesi. It’s become such a huge part of the public psyche. I don’t think we ever dreamed before season one was out that that would happen. It still happens!”

“It kind of grew, it really doubled per season. But we grew into it, which made it kind of easy. The cast was really down to Earth. I can say hand on heart we’re all really down to Earth. I think that’s a really nice thing. Just the whole Hollywood thing, we’re all kind of aware of that… Game of Thrones is so brutal and real. It’s important to keep it real.”

Have you ever met a Game of Thrones star in real? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Game of Thrones was an enchanting journey that lasted for nearly a decade. Some of the show’s cast was very young when the show began. They sort of grew up with the show, like Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead-Wright. Stardom can be a bit scary when you are young. Especially for someone as studious as Isaac Hempstead-Wright. He revealed about his nervousness in an interview with Digital Spy.

Isaac (Bran) said, “It was actually a little bit intimidating. I remember seeing the show go interstellar. Especially when you’re separate from it a bit [Bran was off-screen during season five], you really just see how huge it is when you’re not in the midst of the whole thing.”

“I really think season five was when it had its meteoric rise. So coming back into season six – and I hadn’t acted for a year; I’d been doing my GCSEs – coming back in was kind of like, ‘Argh! I’ve forgotten how to act!’”

He continued, “I think also there had been a lot of bonds forged in that season, and a lot of people had grown up. I’d kind of grown-up, but I had that key year of being 15, 16 away from it. So it was a weird one to come back to. But after a couple of days, it was business as usual.”

Did you ever find your job to be intimidating? Talk to us in the comments below!

Game of Thrones ended more than one and a half years ago. It was a beautiful journey for both the fans and the crew that lasted for a decade. The fantastical series still holds the record for the most number of Emmy Awards won. On the occasion of New Year, the cast of the show came together for an interview with Digital Spy. They shared their experience while shooting for the fantasy epic. Gwendoline Christie (Brienne) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor) talked about how they were cast for their roles.

Gwendoline recalled, “I immediately rang my agent and said, ‘I want to do this’. My agent said, ‘What are you talking about? I’d never ever put you up for this. She’s ugly, her nose is broken, her teeth are broken and you’ll need to use a sword’.”

Nairn remembered, “I was a first-time actor. I was glad I didn’t know anything about the show at the time. Because if I had I would’ve realised what a huge audition I was going for. I had no idea what Game of Thrones was. I had auditioned for a part in another movie called Hot Fuzz, and I didn’t get the part. It was the casting director Nina Gold who remembered me – she called me in for this audition. I didn’t know it at the time, but when you’re called for an audition, that’s really in your favour.”

What are your best memories from the show? Talk to us in the comments below!