One of the most incredible things about a show like Game of Thrones is how the cast and creators go to every length to make it as realistic as possible. Watching an episode of the show is like being transported to another time and place. Everything from the set to the costumes makes you feel like you’re really in Winterfell fighting White Walkers.
Of course, at the end of the day, it is just a television show. In real life, Cersei isn’t out for blood and the Night King seems like a pretty nice guy. Check out these behind-the-scenes photos to see what it’s really like on the Game of Thrones set.
Warning: There are a few spoilers ahead.
Khaleesi Left A Beautiful Send-Off For Jorah
MAJOR SPOILER: Jorah is dead. But in true Ser Jorah Mormont fashion, he went out like a hero defending his Queen from a hoard of Wights. His send-off was expected during the Battle of Winterfell (Samwell wouldn’t have given him that huge sword for nothing) but it was still sad to see the Khaleesi’s best friend go down in the battle.
Emilia Clarke was also pretty upset about it and posted this behind-the-scenes photo of the pair from set with some touching hashtags like #serjorahforlyfe. We’re not crying, you’re crying.
Apparently, Cersei And Septa Are Best Friends
In honor of the season eight premiere, Lena Headey decided to post a mind-melting throwback photo of her as Cersei hanging out with the head Septa. Game of Thrones fans are probably a little uneasy looking at this, considering Septa was the one who tortured Cersei and forced her to walk naked through the streets while yelling “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
It looks like Cersei and Septa let bygones be bygones. We’ll see if Cersei feels the same way about her brothers.
Defend The Wall, Or Wonderwall?
Emilia Clarke sure seems to know how to de-stress while on set. She shared this throwback photo to the time she and John Bradley West AKA Samwell Tarley took in an Oasis concert between shooting.
Emilia, like any other respectable Game of Thrones fan, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compare The Wall in the show to Wonderwall. When you’re standing there with Liam Gallagher and a member of the Night’s Watch, how could you pass it up?
Next, the actor who played Bran shared the strangest photo of an alternate ending to the Battle of Winterfell.
The Alternate Storyline No One Expected
Okay, another MAJOR SPOILER coming but the Night King is dead. After a (what felt like 5-minute) stare down with Bran, he was stabbed to death by Arya with a Valyrian steel dagger. After the episode, Isaac Hempstead-Wright posted this photo that shows maybe the Night King isn’t such a bad guy.
He captioned the post: “Here’s a still taken from the alternate episode 3 ending in which the Night King becomes Bran’s carer and they both live happily ever after.” Honestly, we’d watch it.
Ghost Has A Stand In
Just like the actors of Game of Thrones all had stand-ins during filming, so did fan favorite direwolf Ghost. That’s right, even though the hound was a CGI creation, a “stand-in” direwolf puppet was still used on set, and it looks like its seen some things!
The revelation that a puppet for Ghost was used was revealed during Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, a documentary that aired one week after the series finale. Audiences didn’t know how to respond to the new information and let their horror known on social media.
No Hard Feelings, Right?
The only thing stranger than seeing Bran and the Night King being buddy-buddy is seeing Arya and the Night King sharing a selfie. It’s not clear whether this photo was taken before or after Arya stabbed in in the chest and made him explode into a million tiny pieces of ice.
The actor who plays the Night King, Vladimir Furdik, doesn’t seem to care. When he posted this selfie he captioned it with “She filled me with a smile.”
If you’ve ever questioned the Khaleesi’s acting skills, this next photo will prove you wrong.
Mother Of The Green Screen Dragon
Those dragons in the show might look real but it’s very obvious that they aren’t real. Emilia Clarke posted this photo of her on Drogon to prepare us for the season eight premiere. This peek into how the dragon scenes are actually filmed just goes to show how incredible Emilia is as an actress.
The fact that she can just sit on a green screen and it looks like she’s almost being bucked off mid-air means she deserves an Emmy Award ASAP.
The Giant Killer And Giant’s Babe
Best death of the season so far definitely goes out to little Bella Ramsey, who played the small but fierce Lyanna Mormont. In fashion true to her character, she went out stabbing a giant in the eye despite being crushed to death. Lyanna is now officially The Giant Killer in all important Game of Thrones lore.
That’s why this photo of her with Giants Babe AKA Tormund is even better. We’re not sure who is scarier.
Next, see what the Night King looks like before he gets in full costume.
The Night King Is Just That Hardcore
The unsung heroes of Game of Thrones is the makeup and prosthetics team. For an average episode of the show, the team usually has 50 people working on prosthetics for up to 70 actors at a time. The one who gets the most attention is the Night King, who sits for four hours in the makeup chair before hitting the set.
The makeup and prosthetics would take even longer if he didn’t already have hand sculpted casts made of his face and chest for the team to work with beforehand.
A Different Type Of Sibling Love
Newcomers to Game of Thrones are always shocked by the fact that fans have stopped caring about the incest relationship at the center of the show. So much other important stuff is happening, Jaime and Cersei’s relationship is really the last of our worries right now.
Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau don’t seem to be too phased by their strange on-screen relationship either. When Lena posted this throwback photo she jokingly captioned it “Best Bro.”
Sophie Turner AKA Sansa posted to most relatable behind-the-scenes picture for the premiere.
Sophie Turner’s Behind-The-Scenes Photo Is All Too Relatable
While every other cast member was sharing heartwarming photos and throwbacks from the past eight seasons, Sophie Turner decided to take a different route. The actress posted this to her Instagram with the caption “In honor of the final season of Thrones premiering tonight…Here’s a picture of me asleep on set.”
The lady of the North clearly knows that you can’t win a battle against the undead that lasts a “long night” without some beauty rest.
Khal Drogo Is Back Just To Recreate Dirty Dancing
Khal Drogo and Daenerys had an interesting relationship. She might have been sold to him as a child bride and heavily abused, but eventually, they formed a special bond. That bond obviously translated between the actors who played the characters.
Even after seven seasons apart, Emilia Clarke and Jason Momoa still look like best friends. They’re even tight enough to attempt (and fail) to do the Dirty Dancing lift. The photo was rightly hashtagged #NoOnePutsDrogonInTheCorner.
The Romance We All Wish Would Happen
Fans have been rooting for Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister to get together since season three when he gave up his hand to protect her. They’re both fierce fighters, they’re both knighted, and they’re both incredibly good looking. What more do you need, George R.R. Martin?
If we don’t get to see them hook up in the show at least we have this behind-the-scenes photo showing that the pair are best of friends off-screen.
Two Queens Of The North
This behind-the-scenes photo of Lyanna Mormont and Sansa Stark is everything the world needed and more. While the attention may always be on Sansa, Lyanna stole the hearts of every fierce female around the world since she appeared on the show in season six.
Over the course of the eight seasons, the women of the North have slowly become the best parts of the show. Seeing a queen of the North and a lady of the North get together is the power couple we all really wanted.
Did Yara Forget To Tell Us Something?
The actress who plays Yara Greyjoy, Gemma Whelen, posted this photo before the Battle of Winterfell and people were freaking out. It might be a simple photo of Gemma breastfeeding her real-life child on set but she posted the photos with the caption “Yara’s got some big news” and the hashtag #plottwistahoy.
The cast usually knows better than to tease their fans like that. Yara didn’t make an appearance at the Battle of Winterfell but does this foreshadow something in a future episode?
Alfie Allen Left A Touching Message For Theon
Theon Greyjoy was one of the characters that fans had a serious love-hate relationship with. He did some awful things (kidnapping Bran, betraying the Starks, abandoning Yara) but he also spent a lot of his time trying to redeem himself. Saving Sansa, returning for Yara, and eventually dying to protect Bran allowed Theon to die in peace.
Actor Alfie Allen knows that Theon has affected Game of Thrones fans, and posted this behind-the-scenes snap thanking the fans and saying it’s been an honor to play the character.
Justice For Shereen
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in Game of Thrones came when the Red Woman convinced Stannis to let her burn his daughter, Shereen, alive. It made everyone, including Ser Davos, absolutely despise the Red Woman. So we’re not entirely sure how Carice van Houten had the audacity to post this photo with Kerry Ingram-Kelly with a box of quick start fire in her hand.
The only good thing about this throwback is that it’s a reminder that it’s just a show.
Bella Is Waiting To Encounter A Giant
Bella Ramsey clearly knows how to take advantage of a joke when she sees it. The Lyanna Mormont actress probably waited months to finally post this photo of her in an airport with the perfect sign. She was sitting on this photo and it was well worth it.
Game of Thrones fans are cutthroat and would definitely figure out from this simple photo that Lyanna’s destiny was to go down swinging and take a full-blown giant Wight with her.
We Can Kind Of See The Resemblance
After being apart for so many scenes, Daenerys and Jon Snow have finally been stomping White Walkers and taking names together. Having a new on-set partner is probably pretty exciting. Emilia Clarke proved that when she posted this hilarious photo of her and Kit Harrington and captioned it “family portrait.”
The pair spent nearly 11 weeks together on set for just the Battle of Winterfell so it’s understandable that they’d have to travel into town and let off some steam.
Beard Brothers Unite
The two mightiest beards of the show are on full display on Kristofer Hivju’s Instagram. Tormund and Ser Davos have two of the best beards on the show. Once they both arrived in Winterfell together, we got to see their beards together in all their mighty glory.
Both Tormund and Ser Davos managed to make it through the Battle of Winterfell so that means we’ll still get to see some more of these two beards.
Sansa Adopted Lady And That’s All That Matters
Okay, this might not be a behind-the-scenes photo from the Game of Thrones set but it still warms our heart. Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa, actually adopted her direwolf Lady in real life. This dog was used to play Lady all the way back in season one, episode two.
Even though the only direwolf we see now is Ghost (and yes, Ghost survived the Battle of Winterfell) we’re perfectly content seeing these personal photos of Lady too.
Next, see what the stars look like out of costume and little-known facts about each of them.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)
Looking a bit more put-together in real life, without his battle scars and sporting a suit, it looks as though Dinklage didn’t need too much done in order to pull off the Tyrion Lannister look. Of course, they did need to change his hair color to give him the signature golden hair of a Lannister, and he also needed to grow out his beard since hygiene is not of the utmost importance in Westeros.
Before truly coming into his own on Game of Thrones, Dinklage acted in films such as Elf, Find Me Guilty, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and more. Since playing Tyrion Lannister, he has won an Emmy, been nominate numerous times, and also won a Golden Globe.
Thrones Fact: Peter Dinklage is now one of the highest paid actors on television for his performance on Game of Thrones.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)
When she’s not playing Arya Stark, who slits throats and knocks people off her kill list on Game of Thrones, it looks as if Maisie Williams can be seen wearing pink dresses, jewelry, and a big smile, unlike her rather dark character. Who would have thought that a girl who pulled off playing a little boy for an extended period of time could clean up so well?
Although her character resents the idea of being lady-like, it appears that’s not the case in reality. It must be nice to clean off all of the dirt and muck she’s consistently covered in all the time during shooting!
Thrones Fact: Her portrayal of the character Arya was her first role as a professional actress.
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
On Game of Thrones, Gwendoline Christie portrays the fiercely loyal monster of a woman named Brienne of Tarth. She is known for her ruthlessness in combat and most men have to look up to even speak with her. Although her character certainly seems formidable enough, Christie’s demeanor out of costume seems much more approachable and even perky, something Brienne is incapable of in Game of Thrones.
The character she plays is interesting enough, but there are some pretty unique facts about the actress too. Prior to acting, Gwendoline was a semi-professional gymnast and considered becoming a nun. She also doesn’t know how old she is!
Thrones Fact: On set, she almost tipped over a porta potty while texting in full armor. Close call!
Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)
Since Jamie is described in the book series as being stunningly attractive and the best swordsman in the realm (until he lost his hand), it is no surprise that they chose handsome Coster-Waldau as the man to play him on the television show. Much like Peter Dinklage, it looks like they didn’t have to do much work to make him look like Jamie Lannister except give him some golden hair and throw some Kingsgaurd armor on him.
Also, in his picture in real life, it’s nice to see him crack a smile — which isn’t something that happens all that often in the series. It has to be a relief to switch from armor to a suit every once and a while.
Thrones fact: On set, he celebrated his birthday while chained up as a prisoner, cake and all!
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
Although Turner is pretty in both the television show as well as real life, it’s certainly nice to see some color in her face off of the set and out of costume. Looks like she has no problem slipping out of her animal skin furs and Stark regalia to trade it in for a nice dress while in public.
It’s always interesting to see these characters with real makeup on their face instead of makeup that is supposed to make them look as gaunt and miserable as possible on the show. Turner seems to be doing alright for herself considering that the Lady of Winterfell just recently got engaged to Joe Jonas.
Thrones Fact: She actually owns the dog that played her dire wolf “Lady” on the show. She adopted it during filming.
Jon Snow (Kit Harrington)
Potentially the actor with the least transformation to play their character on the show, Kit Harrington has become a heartthrob worldwide. He’s always been an attractive lad, but his heroic deeds and strong character as Jon Snow have brought him global attention by all, Game of Thrones fans or not.
To play Jon Snow, it looks like he has to throw his hair in a man bun in case of a sword fight, and don his King of the North outfit complete with Valyrian steel sword Longclaw, of course. Also, some makeup is applied to make Harrington look as stressed and battle-worn as his character is.
Thrones Fact: He was sworn to secrecy about the future of his character but once told a police officer to get out of a ticket.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
Although she’s a favorite on the television show, you very well might pass by Emilia Clarke on the street unknowingly without her staple silver Targaryen hair or dragon companions. Emilia Clarke certainly undergoes many transformations on-set according to what her character Daenerys is undergoing at the time. She goes from clean to dirty back to clean so many times it makes your head spin.
Clarke also goes through numerous costume changes as Daenerys slowly rises to power throughout the series. Even though she rides a mechanical bull-like mechanism in front of a green screen during her dragon riding scenes, it feels as though she really has a special connection with them.
Thrones Fact: On set, she was uncomfortable filming her nude scenes and would drink a small glass of vodka to calm her nerves.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen)
It looks like a shower and a haircut does Alfie Allen quite a bit of good and considering that he wasn’t actually tortured for years on end probably helps too. Like most characters on the show, it’s nice to see Allen doing something other than grimacing or crying right before Ramsay takes of another one of his appendages like in the show.
It’s a pleasant reminder that these actors and actresses are actually real people and haven’t suffered the atrocities of their characters. Believe it or not, Allen’s sister is the famous singer-songwriter Lily Allen whose hit song “Alfie” is about him being a lazy, pothead little brother.
Thrones Fact: Alen was actually strapped on to the big “X” during his torture scenes in Season 3 for extended periods of time.
Lord Varys (Conleth Hill)
Who would have ever thought we would see the day when the Master of Whisperers and eunuch Lord Vanys has hair! Conleth Hill is another Game of Thrones actor that you might not recognize while out in public. We’ve never seen Lord Varys without a perfectly shaved head and face with his signature robes.
Now, that we think about it, have we even ever gotten a glimpse of his hands? Hill notes that he had never been bald in the 47 years he had been alive unless he is filming for the show, and now people get weirded out by his hair.
Thrones fact: Conleth originally tried out for the role of King Robert Baratheon on the show.
The Night King (Vladimir Furdik)
Slovakian actor Vladimir Furdik plays the Night King, the leader of the White Walkers and controller of the Army of the Dead. Furdik is a stuntman who decided to try his hand at acting after he was approached by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
He plays the ultimate threat in the Game of Thrones universe and does a great job at it. Surely, his character has given countless people nightmares even though the Night King doesn’t have one word of dialogue in the whole show!
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright)
Clearly, in real life, Isaac Hempstead Wright looks much more like your average teenager than Bran Stark does on Game of Thrones. We all know that must be downright miserable for Wright to wear his hair all matted down to his face like that. Oh, it also must not be the most enjoyable thing to be constantly dragged around in the snow or sitting in a medieval style wheelchair in every scene he is in.
One of the most noticeable costume changes that can be observed in Bran’s character is mostly based on age. He starting filming at such a young age and has had over six years to mature which has also affected his character.
Thrones Fact: He based the character of Bran in season 7 on Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan.
Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham)
Davos Seaworth is one of the noblest and wisest characters throughout the series. By the looks of Liam Cunningham in real life, he’s also an approachable man who you could ask for any kind of advice on any subject. He’s just not wearing any armor and has put on some spectacles.
Other than that, he looks exactly the same as his character on the show. His beard is the exact same length and color as well as his hair. So it must not be too much effort for Cunningham to get ready for individual scenes, but that armor has to be heavy.
Thrones Fact: Liam Cunningham is left-handed, so the fingers chopped off by Stannis was taken from his right hand in the tv series.
The Hound (Rory McCann)
From first glance, it’s obvious that the makeup team on Game of Thrones had to put in some serious work on Rory McCann’s face every day of shooting. They did a really good job of making him look as ugly as possible, and you’d never guess what he looks like in real life.
His half-burned prosthetic face takes two hours to put on and a half an hour to get off. McCann noted that the prosthetic would fill up with sweat and would leak every time that he smiled. He’s one of the main characters in the show that actually had to consistently wear such a detailed prosthetic since day one of shooting.
Thrones Fact: Originally, Rory McCann didn’t see the Season 7 finale for quite some time because doesn’t own a TV and spends most of his time on a boat.
Bronn (Jerome Flynn)
By the looks of his clothes and the smile on his face, Jerome Flynn has a much better attitude than Bronn, the character that he plays on the show. Although the hair is the same, there’s clearly some makeup that goes into making him look older, more sinister, and worn out.
Without all of this makeup, he actually looks like a real person who hasn’t been fighting and killing people since he was a young boy. He also looks a lot more innocent without his broadsword at his side or the knife he also keeps secretly behind his back.
Thrones Fact: Jerome used to date Lena Headey, who plays Cersei.
Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady)
It is no secret that Lena Heady was riding the wave of a very successful acting career years before Game of Thrones even aired. Yet now, she plays one of the most resented people on television. For the character of Cersei, they didn’t need to do much to amplify Heady’s beauty except giver her exceptionally bright Lannister-colored hair.
However, that staple look of her character was eventually cut off after her walk of atonement in the show (and it was cut in real life, too). These days, she’s rocking the short-hair look like nobody’s business. Heady also has to be sure to cover up the various tattoos she has on her back.
Thrones fact: Lena has never been a part of any of the sex scenes on the show and uses a body double. Surprising, considering how many of them her character has!
Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson)
Jacob Anderson plays Grey Worm, the elite fighter and leader of Daenerys’ Unsullied Army. In the novels as well as the show, Grey Worm was castrated when he was a slave during childhood, so in the show they make him appear to have very boyish features for his age.
They do this by keeping him totally clean-shaven except for his head during filming. He also had to keep his body in tip-top shape considering that he wears the most revealing armor in the entire show, with his arms exposed at all times.
Thrones Fact: Anderson has become fed up with people continuously asking him in interviews if he’s actually been castrated.
Gilly (Hannah Murray)
In the television series, we see Gilly as a rather distressed new mother still recovering from her previous life north of the wall. She is usually dressed in her old and dirty brown robes that she’s probably worn for the majority of her life, with tangled hair and no makeup.
But have no fear, actress Hannah Murray looks far from the character that she portrays on the show. She clearly has not lived a life of abuse, doesn’t have the stresses of being a new mother, and has the time to keep up with her personal hygiene. It’s probably more time and work to make her look bad than good!
Thrones Fact: She uses multiple babies for all the scenes she is in with baby Sam.
Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West)
Out of costume, it is clear that John Bradley-West has much more confidence than his character of Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. Although he’s still wearing black as he does in every scene he’s in on the show, the pea coat is much more fitting. It appears that they need to add extra padding to the interior of his costume in order to make him seem a bit thicker in the belly for the show.
They do this because in both the books and the show, a fundamental aspect of his character is being a bit more overweight than all of the other characters he surrounds himself with.
Thrones Fact: While the rest of the cast was at the Emmys, John was filming his dry-heaving bedpan montage in season 7.
High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce)
In the television series, Jonathan Pryce plays the pious, yet not so innocent, High Sparrow. He is so dedicated to his faith and being “a man of the people” that he does not bathe, change clothes, wear shoes, or take care of any personal hygiene at all. Out of costume, Pryce looks like a respectable human being in comparison to his character’s homeless appearance, as though he grew up on the streets in Flea Bottom.
Although not much can be done about his hair, it’s amazing what a shower and a change of clothes can do for an actor. One of the few makeup transformations appears to be the application of even thicker eyebrows to really emphasize his rather evil facial expressions.
Thrones Fact: Long before Season 5, the creators offered him a position on the show but the mysticism of it all was unappealing to Pryce.
Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman)
Michiel Huisman plays the suave swashbuckling sellsword by the name of Daario Naharis. It’s amazing how a little bit of hair growth — or lack of it — can change someone’s appearance. It could be argued that his character in the show fits society’s current ideals of what it means to be attractive for a male with the beard and hair.
It’s actually kind of surprising his character doesn’t have a man bun. Thankfully for Huisman, it doesn’t take long for him to transform into the character, just a few weeks without cutting his hair or shaving and he’s ready to go.
Thrones Fact: Because of his role as Daario Naharis, he was asked if he would pose for Playgirl. However, he declined the flattering offer.