GAME OF THRONES Director Alex Graves on Fight Scene Between Oberyn & The Mountain

In a recent Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter director Alex Graves discusses a number of the big scenes from “The Mountain and The Viper” including, the fight between the titular characters.  Read excerpt below for to see what Graves had to say — but beware there are SPOILERS!


How did you approach the big fight scene?

I looked at it as the story of the fight. “At this point in the fight we don’t think this, but we think this.” Then they would rehearse it with the stunt fighters, and I would go in and edit it, and we’d put the actors in. We discovered tings like wanting to get the Mountain’s helmet off early so you could see his face — we were crazy about Hafthor. He’s so great and I love him.

And these two characters’ very different fighting styles, what were you going for there?

We wanted it to be very heavy and centered with The Mountain and incredibly fluid and slick around Oberyn. You’ve been hearing throughout the season that Oberyn is a good fighter. So the first thing you’ve got to establish — especially if he’s fighting The Mountain, who has killed anyone he’s ever fought — is “Oh, I’ve never seen anything like this guy on the show.” On Game of Thrones it’s usually “Draw my sword, cut him in half, blood, guts and its over.” This was artistry — with poison.

For quite a while it seemed like Oberyn would win this thing.

You’ve got to build that suspense. I want people to think, “Oh, how is Tyrion going to get out of this thing? This must be it, right? They’re not going to kill Dinklage, right?”

How’d you get the gruesome effects down for Oberyn’s death?

I storyboarded it for, “This is when we’re going to use Pedro, and this is when we’re going to need some kind of a head that can implode.” I sent our makeup supervisor off and he built this head to use for the shots. Then the visual effects guys took it home by putting a little swelling in the head, and making the one eye look really bad. The last composition that we barely got before the sun went down was of the two of them lying dead – the effects team made that even more gruesome. They rearranged some of his brain matter.

The complete interview can be found at The Hollywood Reporter.