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Game of Thrones scenes actors didn't want to film

To call it a wild ride would be an understatement: if you've been following Game of Thrones since the beginning, you know that your favorite characters might meet an awful fate at any moment, and the battle scenes are not for the faint of heart. From gratuitous violence to scandalous romance, this supremely addictive show can also be a really tough watch — so imagine how hard it must be for the actors to film some of these scenes.

There's no doubt that the Game of Thrones stars have all had to grow thick skins over the years. Several of the actors have admitted that sometimes, a scene has come up in a script that would leave them shaking their heads and thinking, "There's no way I'm doing this." How did your favorite Game of Thrones stars really feel while they were filming some of the most dramatic, intense moments in the series? Here are the scenes that the cast absolutely dreaded filming — and a few that certain actors refused to take part in altogether.

Cersei's walk of atonement

Cersei's "walk of shame" through King's Landing in season 5 was brutal enough to make audiences sympathize with one of the most diabolical characters in the entire show. To atone for the sin of adultery, Cersei (Lena Headey) was forced to walk naked through King's Landing while the citizens verbally and physically assaulted her.

Although many of the Game of Thrones stars are used to wearing nothing but their birthday suits on camera, Lena Headey chose to work with a body double for this scene rather than baring it all. Headey said that the scene would have involved three full days of shooting sans costume, and she didn't feel that she could accurately portray Cersei's emotional state if she herself was exposed the entire time. Headey is also a mother, and she noted that stripping down for certain scenes might bring up some awkward conversations with her kids.

Headey's usual stand-in, Rebecca Van Cleave, agreed to appear nude in the scene, with Headey's face superimposed on her body. In response to claims that she was "less of an actress" for preferring to keep herself covered, Headey had to stand up for herself. "You know what? It was really a bit shocking," she told Entertainment Weekly. "I've done nudity. I'm not averse to it. But I know I'm a very emotional actor and I get really driven by that."

Lancel Lannister under the Sept of Baelor

The Game of Thrones season 6 finale had every fan on edge. The season went out with a bang — literally. Rather than attend her trial with the High Sparrow, Cersei decided to pull off an unexpectedly devious revenge plot. She set the entire Sept of Baelor ablaze with wildfire, a highly flammable and rare substance that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "scorched earth." Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) tried to save the day in vain — while in a tunnel under the Sept, he notices three candles burning in a small pool of wildfire, and he attempts to reach the end of the tunnel as fast as he can to blow them out. Due to his injuries, he can only crawl, and he does not make it in time.

Simon said this was his most physically demanding scene. The directors had him spend the entire day crawling, using only his upper body strength throughout. "I had to do it twenty-seven times," he told Elle. "By the end of it, I was covered in sweat from exhaustion, by the time I got to the fire… I felt like the Hulk." Talk about a workout!

Euron Greyjoy's drowning ceremony

Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) is one of the most frightening characters of Game of Thrones. He has no moral compass, and there seems to be nothing he won't do in pursuit of the power that he craves. Even among the other ruthless Game of Thrones characters, Euron possesses a unique form of evil. Asbæk plays the role perfectly, yet in real life, Asbæk is nowhere near as frightening; in fact, he was actually intimidated by one scene in particular.

In the Game of Thrones universe, every kingdom has their own unique rituals and ceremonies. When a new king is crowned in the Iron Islands, a drowning ceremony is part of their initiation. Of course, filming something like this is complicated, and there's no way that the cast and crew are going to get it right in one take. Asbæk said that filming the drowning scene was quite a struggle. After all, it's not easy to act while you're freezing cold and unable to breathe. "When you're underwater, and there's a guy pushing you down, and it's very, very cold, it's one of those challenges that you have to accept as an actor," Asbæk told Elle. "This is what it is. This is what we're going to do."

Meryn Trant's death scene

Wearing unique costumes and makeup on set is just part of the deal on Game of Thrones. To create some of the special aesthetic effects, actors have had to wear colored contacts and prosthetic lenses. For example, after Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) goes temporarily blind in season 5, Williams had to wear colored contact lenses for a few episodes until her sight was restored. But she's not the only actor on set who had to spend a little time in the dark.

For Meryn Trant's (Ian Beattie) death scene in season 5, the cast and crew began shooting early in the morning, and Beattie recalls getting prosthetics in his eyes around 9AM that day. Unfortunately, the prosthetics basically left him blind for a full day of shooting, and he had to leave them in for a full 12 hours. In fact, he says that all he remembers from that particular day of shooting was total darkness from morning until night. He remembers his death scene as his biggest challenge on set. "It was in many ways quite a surreal day," Beattie told Elle. "It was very technical, but Maisie and I had worked it out in the rehearsals, and we were ready."

Theon Greyjoy's torture scenes

Theon Greyjoy's (Alfie Allen) entire storyline has been hard to stomach, and his torture scenes are some of the most gruesome in the entire show. His character was never quite the same afterwards. If you found yourself watching those scenes from behind your hands, you're probably not alone, and it's understandable — like some other major Game of Thrones plots, Theon's character arc can seem like nothing but one demoralizing experience after another.

In order to prepare for these scenes, Allen focused on painful memories to reflect that authentic emotion to the audience. "My job as an actor is to convey emotions that I experience in my own life and make that relevant to other people, and that pain is something you need to experience yourself, you know?" Allen told Elle. He's never revealed exactly what went through his mind while filming, but it must have been quite dark. No wonder he says the torture scenes were his hardest to shoot.

Battling the wights on ice

Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) is a fan favorite on Game of Thrones – although he is arguably a relatively minor character, he's gotten more and more screentime throughout his tenure on the series, to the point that it raised something of a fan uproar when his fate was left ambiguous in the season 7 finale. He's a tough character who may be gruff at times, but beneath his rough exterior, there's something endearing about him.

Speaking of fighting, Hivju has appeared in plenty of crazy battle scenes where it seems like it's hard to keep track of anything happening onscreen. Imagine how it feels for the actors in the midst of all the chaos on set. Hivju admits that by the time he was scheduled to shoot the season 7 finale, he'd had enough of working with the wights. The wights that audiences see are actually a small crowd of extras, with the majority added digitally in post-production. Regardless, the actors had to keep up with quick choreography, and according to Hivju, the scene pushed him to his physical limits. "In the beginning, it was tough, but in the end it became a kind of horrible dance," he told Elle. "It was extremely exhausting: They just kept coming, kept coming, kept coming."

Ellaria and Tyene's final moments

Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and her daughter Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) had one of the most frightening death scenes in the entire series — and not a drop of blood was spilled. Cersei handcuffs both Ellaria and Tyene to opposite walls of a dungeon, and then poisons Tyene as revenge for the murder of her daughter Myrcella, forcing Ellaria to watch her own daughter die while she is helplessly stuck. To make matters worse, Cersei promises to keep Ellaria alive for some time, solely for the purpose of torturing her and prolonging her suffering.

Varma said that she and Sellers struggled with their handcuffs throughout the entire day of filming — since they were supposed to fight against them, the cuffs would occasionally come undone, but at other times, they got stuck in them. Varma was one of the last people on set that day, and she found herself unable to get out of the cuffs. Finally, a crew member from the props department discovered a solution. "Literally, at the end of the day, I was like, 'Mate, I can't get it off, can someone help me?' and everyone's gone," Varma said in an episode of Games Revealed. "Pete from props is like, 'I think we need a saw,' and I had to be sawn out."

Daenerys' mystery fate in season 8

By now, every cast member has finished filming their final scenes for the very last season of Game of Thrones, and Emilia Clarke, who starred as Daenerys Targaryen, has had to say goodbye to her blonde wig, her three CGI dragons, and the character that she has spent years playing. Game of Thrones is filled with strong female characters played by equally bold and assertive women, and Daenerys has always been a fan favorite. Funnily enough, Clarke was actually the second choice to take on the role – Tamzin Merchant played Daenerys in the original pilot episode — but now, it's impossible to imagine the character being played by anyone else.

Clarke said that filming Daenerys' last moments onscreen was a very difficult experience. It must have been hard to let go of a character that was such a huge part of her life for nearly a decade and the role that represented her big break. Skilled at the art of keeping spoilers to herself after all these years, all she admitted before the season 8 premiere is that it was hard to accept that those final scenes would be the audience's last impression of Daenerys.

Daenerys eating a horse heart

Emilia Clarke said that filming Daenerys' final scenes was a heavy moment — but one scene much earlier in the series really pushed her to her limits as an actor. In season 1, Daenerys eats a horse heart during a Dothraki ceremony. The scene looked painfully realistic, and many viewers probably wondered what Clarke was actually eating — whatever it was, it couldn't have tasted that great. Thankfully, Clarke wasn't chowing down on real, bloody meat, but the "feast" wasn't much more appetizing.

The horse heart was actually made out of solidified jam, and Clarke said the flavor reminded her of a nasty combination of bleach and raw pasta. In fact, she said she was so grossed out by the taste that she barely felt like she had to act in the scene. And unfortunately, this was not the kind of scene that she could just get over with in one take — shooting lasted for several days, and Clarke said that she was physically ill. "I ate roughly 28 hearts throughout the days we filmed that scene," Clarke told The Mirror. "Fortunately, they gave me a spit bucket because I was vomiting in it quite often."

Jon and Daenerys falling in love

When Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys finally met in season 7, it was obvious that there was a spark of instant chemistry between the two characters, and anyone could have predicted that they would fall for each other. Romance was definitely on the horizon. At first, it seemed like destiny — fire and ice were coming together at last. But in true Game of Thrones fashion, they couldn't simply hook up and then live happily ever after. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jon is actually a Targaryen by birth, and Daenerys is his aunt.

Needless to say, Harington had some mixed feelings about the scene. After years of working on the show, Harington and Clarke are good friends, and filming a romantic scene together was undoubtedly going to be a little bit awkward. Plus, knowing their characters' family lineage, Harington thought that Jon and Daenerys were making a mistake. Both actors relied on humor to keep the situation a little more lighthearted. "I like looking at her and going, 'Oh, God, I'm so sorry!" Harington told Vanity Fair.

Battle of the Bastards

Aside from accepting that his character was walking blindly into a romantic relationship with his onscreen aunt that would inevitably complicate all of season 8, Kit Harington said that he also dreaded filming the epic battle sequence in the season 6 finale, "Battle of the Bastards." Just watching it is enough to give you whiplash — it's hard to envision what it would be like to be in the thick of all that action. Harington said that preparing for — and actually filming — the battle was his biggest challenge on set.

The battle is actually one long take with just a few subtle cuts, so it took several days of rehearsing the choreography just to get ready for the actual shoot. And just to raise the stakes, most of the horses in the scene were real, not CGI. As if filming a massive, chaotic battle scene like this wasn't difficult enough with actors and extras, just try adding animals into the mix. "It was such a delicate dance, and it was a dangerous one because you have real horses galloping back and forth — and a lot of the time my back is to them," Harington told The Hollywood Reporter. "You had to be very, very precise about each of those beats."

Ditching the Dragon Pit summit

Throughout Game of Thrones, so many different characters have come and gone, and there are always several major storylines going on in different areas of Winterfell, so it's only expected that some major characters rarely appear in scenes together. For the most recent seasons, this has been the case for Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Cersei. But it's not because their characters don't have any connection — after all, Bronn spends plenty of time with Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Cersei's twin brother and not-so-secret lover. It's actually because Flynn and Lena Headey used to date, and the breakup must have been fairly tumultuous, because both actors refuse to film scenes together.

Flynn and Headey nearly had to share a scene in season 7, when almost all of the main characters convened at the Dragon Pit summit to discuss the fate of Winterfell. However, attentive viewers may have noticed that Bronn and Cersei didn't even share a second of screen time — Bronn made a quick exit and excused himself for a drink before Cersei arrived.

Although the two split before late 2014, when Headey began dating her current partner, the wounds must still feel fresh. But perhaps they will have to set their differences aside for the final season. After all, Bronn is now supposed to be leading the Lannister army and working for Cersei, so it will be interesting to see how the directors work around this dilemma.