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Did The Game Of Thrones Cast Really Do Their Own Stunts?

On an action-packed show like "Game of Thrones," many of the characters are incredibly athletic: they sword-fight enemies all night, climb giant walls, ride dragons, and do battle with bears. However, just because an actor is talented at portraying a character in most ways, it doesn't necessarily mean they share that character's amazing physical abilities. Additionally, the kind of stunts that actors are allowed to perform themselves are often dependent on the production's insurance package. Since a serious injury to a key actor can set production back by weeks, with an eye-watering cost attached to the delay, stunt doubles usually have to take over for anything particularly dangerous. 

But while not all actors happen to also possess the abilities of professional athletes or soldiers (or professional stunt performers), some of them kind of do. And in many cases actors perform at least some of their own stunts, which is pretty impressive considering the physical feats their characters undertake. Despite the dangers of performing one's own stunts, there are certain benefits. Some actors, such as Keanu Reeves, who also does his own stunts, feel like doing so allows them to more deeply understand and inhabit their character. 

On "Game of Thrones," since there are so many scenes involving battles or other amazing physical feats, it is no surprise that many of the actors on the show use stunt doubles. However, there are still some who prefer to perform most of their character's stunts themselves. 

These Game of Thrones actors used stunt doubles

An article over at Elle reveals some of the stunt performers who have appeared on "Game of Thrones," including doubles for Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), and Rory McCann (The Hound). According to Tell Tales, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) also used stunt doubles. For all of these characters, doubles were found who physically resemble the actors but who also possess the physical abilities necessary to perform the complicated stunts for these characters, several of whom are warriors who engage in complicated swordplay and other types of fighting, with or without weapons. 

Although not all of these characters are fighters, they still get into situations sometimes that require stunt doubles. For example, not all actors know how to ride horses confidently, especially when the horses are running, meaning stunt doubles are often required for these scenes as well.

In an interview with Esquire, the horse trainer from "Game of Thrones," Camilla Naprous, noted that there are moments on the show where they couldn't even use a real horse for the shots, let alone a real person. At times, the scenes required for the show are too dangerous to use real people, even highly-trained stunt doubles. This is where digital production comes in to help. 

Kit Harington does most of his own stunts as Jon Snow

"Game of Thrones" stunt director Rowley Irlam told Time that Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow on "Game of Thrones," does most of his own stunts. This is not a simple undertaking, considering all the battle scenes where Jon fights off both other humans as well as the supernatural white walkers as a member of the Night's Watch. Irlam said, "He's doing all the fighting, he moves really well. He's great."

Others on the show valued Harington's willingness to do his own stunts because it helps with the show's overall authenticity. Horse trainer Camilla Naprous told Esquire, "As much as possible, I like to see the real thing. I like to see my actors ride their horses. I don't want any stunt doubles ... And working with Kit is amazing, because he uses all of his training and we have such great trust in each other." 

There are also dangers to doing one's own stunts, which Harington has learned. For example, he got injured while filming his first dragon ride during Season 8. Additionally, he has gotten injuries outside of work that also necessitated that he take a break from stunting, such as when he climbed through a window and shattered his ankle. This resulted in Harington having to use a body double on "Game of Thrones."