With the premiere of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones weeks away, creators and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss shared their insight in creating the fearsome leader of the White Walkers, the Night King.
Not a part of author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice novels on which the HBO fantasy series is based, the creators decided a figurehead for the undead frozen horde was needed that tied into their origins as humans captured by the Children of the Forest. And, in terms of casting, the showrunners found the perfect actor in stuntman Vladimir Furdik.
"If you’re going backwards, well, they made these things … so what made them? We always liked the implication that they weren’t some kind of cosmic evil that had been around since the beginning to time but that the White Walkers had a history; that something that seems legendary and mythological and permanent wasn’t," explained Weiss in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "And once you go back into that flashback scene, that required a person there, and that was Vlad, who for a long time was our best stuntman."
A flashback sequence taking place millennia in the past revealed that the White Walkers were originally men captured by the Children of the Forest, with their hearts pierced by dragonglass and transformed as part of the mythical creatures' conflict against humanity. The plan ultimately backfired as the Night King's goal to spread death would include the surviving Children of the Forest years later.
"I don’t think of him as evil, I think of him as Death," revealed Benioff. "And that’s what he wants, for all of us. It’s why he was created and that’s what he’s after."
Season 8 of Game of Thrones, the show’s final season, premieres April 14. It will feature six episodes with longer than usual runtimes. The HBO drama stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.