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The Biggest Pranks The Cast And Crew Pulled On The Game Of Thrones Set

Game of Thrones might be an intense drama, but there were plenty of silly hijinks happening behind the scenes.

According to James Hibberd's new oral history all about the behind the scenes process of Game of Thrones, Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, the cast and crew behind HBO's massive hit loved playing pranks on one another, from risqué jokes to costume fake-outs to fake scripts.

Though some actors didn't disclose their biggest pranks to Hibberd — Khal Drogo himself, Jason Momoa, told the writer, "My 'funny prank stories' are not appropriate, and are maybe illegal [...] They will die with me and the people I did them on" — the cast and crew was apparently more than happy to discuss some of the best practical jokes, pranks, and outright lies they told to trick their friends and colleagues. Here are the biggest and funniest pranks the cast and crew pulled on one another on the set of Game of Thrones.

The Game of Thrones showrunners were huge pranksters

Though Hibberd notes that "a comprehensive list of all Thrones set pranks will likely never be made public," many actors and crew members opened up about all the tricks they'd pulled during filming.

Showrunner David Benioff recalled an early prank he and other producers pulled on poor Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams — who played Stark sisters Sansa and Arya, respectively — who were both about fourteen years old when they started filming. "We told Maisie and Sophie that since they were underage, they couldn't come to the pilot wrap party," Benioff revealed. "So we told them they were going to have a special underage wrap party at McDonald's. They started crying." Fellow showrunner Dan Weiss finished the story, saying, "Then they came to the real wrap party and cried through that because they thought they might never see each other again."

The showrunners were pretty big pranksters during the first season; they also sent Kit Harington a fake script, which they revealed in the book Inside HBO's Game of Thrones: Season 1 & 2. In the finished show, Harington's hero Jon Snow saves his Night's Watch commander, Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), from a stray wight, but in the fake script, fire engulfs both Jon and the wight, leaving Jon horribly disfigured. After reading this, Harington thought he would be heavily scarred — and therefore covered in prosthetics — for the entirety of Game of Thrones.

"We told Kit that HBO was worried the Jon Snow storyline was 'too Harry Potter,' and they wanted to do something to make it darker," Weiss said. "And they thought he was such a strong actor that he could handle it. We kept this up until we started laughing. He was a remarkably good sport about the whole thing."

The Game of Thrones showrunners got pranked plenty too

Benioff and Weiss, who loved sending fake scripts and tricking their actors, didn't have a monopoly on pranks during Game of Thrones. In one instance, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister, decided the duo needed a taste of their own medicine. In between seasons, just after they had completed primary filming, Coster-Waldau wrote a furious email to the showrunners saying he hated the changes made to his haircut, and was going to get his own haircut that he felt "best reflected Jaime Lannister as he saw him" and would send a photo, according to Weiss.

"Day went by, no picture," Weiss continued. "Another day, no picture. Finally, seventy hours later, he sent us a picture of him with this military buzz cut. He shaved all his hair off, and we had reshooting to do with him. We'd have to get a Jaime Lannister wig made at the last minute at tremendous expense. HBO's lawyers were calling his lawyers. Then he emailed back and told us the picture was from five years ago and he hadn't cut his hair at all."

Game of Thrones' most involved on-set prank came from the actors

One of the most elaborate on-set pranks during all of Thrones was courtesy of Harington and Hannah Murray, the second of whom played wildling Gilly. In a scene where Gilly accompanied Samwell Tarley (John Bradley), her on-screen love interest and Harington's on-screen best friend, the two decided to play a huge trick on Bradley that required tons of costumes and cooperation from the creative team.

Weiss recalled, "Hannah Murray had long had the sh*ttiest costumes on Game of Thrones; she'd been in a burlap sack for five years. She was so happy to finally get into a real piece of clothing. So Kit and Hannah thought it would be funny to play a joke on John and let him think he was going to get a new costume too."

"Kit and I came up with the idea that John should have a new costume and it should be really stupid," Murray added. "We thought we'd tell him he had a new stupid costume and he'd be like, 'Oh, no!' and that would be it. Then it became this bigger, more elaborate thing than we ever imagined."

The showrunners helped Harington and Weiss out and got the costume department in on the joke, which eventually produced something that looked like a "Renaissance-fair fool." As Weiss said, "We thought it would be great to make the costume ludicrous but just believable enough to not know it was a gag, so he'd think he would be wearing this on-screen. It was all rental stuff, very Henry the Eighth, with Tudor bloomers and a massive codpiece."

The victim of the prank, Bradley, was horrified: "I looked so bad and ridiculous, it was unbelievable. There was a huge vulgar codpiece — though flattering, to be sure. The reason I bought it is because we'd never seen Sam at home before, and [his parents] think he's an idiot. Maybe Sam dressed like an idiot before he came to Castle Black [to join the Night's Watch]."

Murray remembered, "He was talking about it all the time. 'Have you seen my new costume? My hat has been made comically small.' He was really annoyed. I had to keep going, 'I'm sure it's fine.' Eventually I went to David and was like, 'Are we going to tell him this is a joke?' And David was all, 'Oh yeah, we probably should.'" Bradley, in retrospect, can't believe he bought it: "You always think you're not going to fall for pranks. You always think, 'I'll see through that,' and I cannot believe I didn't see through it."

Game of Thrones, minus the pranks, is available to stream in its entirety on HBO Max now.