You’re watching season five, episode eight of Game of Thrones, a.k.a. “Hardhome,” and here comes the part where the Night King steps slowly onto the frigid docks to peer into his enemies’ souls. With glowing blue eyes, he raises his arms, bringing to life a fresh army of the dead, and it becomes crystal clear that this icy blue nightmare is a thing of pure horror… Except he’s not. He’s a shirtless actor who’s gone through four hours of makeup, and had his face plastered with prosthetics. And if he’s the king of anything, it’s being very itchy.
In a video that comes via No Film School, we’re given a peek into how many of the non-human (or grayscaled) characters in Game of Thrones are brought to life. And if you’ve ever wondered how Wun Wun, the Wights, or even all those severed limbs in battle scenes look so realistic, it’s due to an army—of the dedicated!—that has put in enormous amounts of time into molding prosthetics and applying makeup to actors.
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The fifteen minute video takes us through the creative process that starts with the prosthetics designers, writers, directors, and producers of the show discussing how to best bring unique faces, bodies, and body parts from the realm of imagination into reality. The process is hugely complex, and requires a stunning amount of detail. For example, at around 7:50 in the video an Art Finishing Supervisor discusses how a prosthetic arm that’s going to be torn off in battle needs to be molded based on a real arm, intricately painted to look like human-esque flesh, and incised with individual hairs. And yes, they use real pre-curled human hair.
The video reveals how a show like Game of Thrones requires enormous amounts of work from all of the show’s creative departments in order to come to life with such unbelievable quality. The attention to detail, to everything from Wun Wun’s wiggly hands to the Night King’s nostrils, is stunning. There’s a good chance that after you watch this video, you’ll be looking at the background Wights’ hairlines instead of Jon Snow’s face during the next big battle. (OK, you’ll still be looking at Jon Snow.)
What do you think about this behind-the-scenes look at the prosthetics from Game of Thrones? Are you blown away by how much detail goes into every single severed limb? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: YouTube / BAFTA Guru