When Vladimír Furdík first learned the Night King, his Game of Thrones character since Season 6, was going to die at the hands of Arya Stark in the show's eighth and final season, a flurry of thoughts ran through his head.
“I feel like, ‘Why? Don’t kill him! Let him go!’” Furdík said of his character’s death in an interview with BuzzFeed News.
But he almost immediately began thinking of how they would pull the epic scene off.
“When I first spoke with the producers about this ... I thought, ‘How will she jump on him? How will she kill him?'" Furdík, who also serves as a stunt coordinator on the show, said. “I don’t think about why she kills him. At first, I think, like, how will we do this scene?”
Long a menacing force against the people of Westeros, the Night King and his Army of the Dead finally met their end on Sunday in what is easily one of the most iconic scenes of the show.
In it — again, SPOILER ALERT — the Night King finds Bran, aka the Three-Eyed Raven, who’s guarded by Theon Greyjoy at the weirwood tree in Godswood. Theon charges at the Night King in one last attempt to protect Bran but is swiftly taken down, allowing the Night King to finally confront Bran amid the mounting chaos at Winterfell.
As the showdown culminates, other characters are also on the precipice of doom as hordes of wights overwhelm Winterfell: Jon Snow confronts Viserion, the now-undead dragon; Sansa and Tyrion prepare to fight for their lives in the crypts, while others, including Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Daenerys, and Jorah are fighting for their lives.
It's at this moment, as the Night King reaches for his sword to kill Bran, when Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) jumps from behind, seemingly out of nowhere. The Night King catches her by the throat and holds her in the air, but Arya skillfully performs a knife hand-switching trick and successfully stabs him, destroying the original White Walker and all of his kind, including the wights.
The scene unfolds in split-second fashion, but according to the actor, it was no easy task.
“It was so difficult, so crazy,” Furdík said. “Every night we were so tired and Maisie [Williams] especially spent a lot of energy to play this part.”
He added that working with Williams was a joy.
“I spent time with her two years before Season 8 when I prepared her for other fights,” he said. “So we‘ve known each other a long time. She’s a nice, normal person and a very, very good friend.”
However, before he found out that Arya would be the one to take out the Night King, Furdík said he thought another member of the Stark family would be responsible for killing him off — his character's rival, the Three-Eyed Raven.
"I feel like maybe Bran should kill him somehow," Furdík said.
The episode, titled "The Long Night," took 55 days to shoot, and at 82 minutes, it's the longest of any previous GoT installment. It also included a staggering 750 people on set and featured the longest battle sequence in television or film history, even beating out Lord of the Rings’ famous Battle of Helm's Deep. Even Furdík’s makeup and costume was laborious, taking between six and seven hours to complete every time he transformed into his character.
“Me, as a professional stuntman and choreographer, I look at this episode with a different view as [the other] actors,” Furdík said.
The Slovakia native said he helped choreograph nearly every fight scene in the Battle of Winterfell, and that while “The Last Night” took 55 days to film, he was actually on set for about 11 months working on other battles fans have yet to see.
“When a battle happens, I am there,” Furdík said.
The Night King notoriously never spoke a line of dialogue on Game of Thrones, but, Furdík said, “What he wants to say, he says with his face.”
The character’s iconic smize became a fixture in all of the episodes he appeared in, which Furdík said was easy to accomplish because of the director.
Some fans have criticized the end of the Night King’s terror for lacking closure and further explanation of his backstory and possible motivations for attempting to destroy all of humanity. There are even theories that the Night King could have been a Stark or a Targaryen, but Furdík said he never gave his character’s backstory any real thought.
Still, he wishes the Night King could have stuck around a bit longer, perhaps even all the way to the end.
“Maybe it would be a nice end to the Game of Thrones if he would win," Furdík said. "I think this would be, like, a big shock for everybody, yeah? If he sat on the Iron Throne.”