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19 Game of Thrones Actors on the Scenes They’re Most Proud Of

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When Vulture sat down with Jack Gleeson few years ago, he surprised us with his choice of the Game of Thrones moment that saw his best work: the scene where he had to pretend to be a dead body all day. It wasn’t actually his best work, he clarified — it was actually his worst work, since he kept falling asleep, then waking up with a start — but it was the most enjoyable to shoot. (In other words, he didn’t really answer the question, but we got a fun story out of it anyway.) With the Game of Thrones cast making the promotional rounds last week to support the show’s eighth and final season, we thought we’d pose the same query to all of them. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau said something cryptic about season eight and Iain Glen gave a very sweet answer about how it wasn’t his place to judge, but 19 of their co-stars were nice enough to share their memories of their proudest scenes.

Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)

“This is not my ‘best work,’ but I remember in season one, doing this scene where Joffrey and I are on a bridge and he shows me my father’s head. I remember tracking it with my eye movements and being like, ‘This is so good, what I’m doing with my eyes right there.’ And I remember coming back and telling [Maisie Williams] about it, like, ‘I looked on the bridge and then I looked to him and then I looked at his head and then I looked back at him and it was amazing!’ And it wasn’t even that good!”

Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

“For me, it’s the episode when Ned gets his head taken off. Because on that day, when she’s on the steps and she’s looking around to everyone screaming, ‘Kill him!’ there was no one there. It was an empty courtyard at seven in the morning and I was alone. At the time I felt really strange, so I guess I just thought I’d do it and pretend. But watching it back now, I would really struggle to imagine fake things like that. I need to feel it a little more. To be able to do that, I had a very vivid imagination, I guess. I was able to convince myself that really bad things were about to happen. I look at that now and go, Best work I ever did!

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

“There’s one every three seasons where I’m like, That was okay! The first time I got on the dragon, that was a good one. It was amazing and then very funny at the same time because the actual filming of it was really basic, especially compared to what it is now. The first time, I was on a little riding-seat thing that had a [rocking horse noise], ee-err, ee-err, someone bumping me up and down. Now it’s a huge hydraulic system that has seven moving pieces and I’m strapped in. It’s all computerized and has a mind of its own.”

Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark)

“Season seven was a whole new challenge for me. Not many actors get to play an entirely new character on the same show. It was a real challenge to keep Bran interesting while making him really weird, not letting him become monotonous. With characters who are omniscient, it can become boring because they know everything that’s going to happen. So it was about keeping that mystery, that detachment, while still making him feel like a real person and not just a robot.”

Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)

“The fight with the Hound, that’s the most of everything that you’ve seen from me. It was something I couldn’t believe I could achieve, retrospectively. Looking back at it now it was so brutal, but I was really invigorated by that scene. It looked so real, but we made it very safe, and not one injury was incurred as a result of it. Rory [McCann] and I were so connected and committed to the story line, and it was only afterwards I realized I was doing everything he was doing, but backwards and uphill! I was pretty delighted with that.”

Conleth Hill (Varys)

“My best work is yet to come. But I like the revelation of who Varys was and where he came from when he opened the box with Tyrion.”

Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth)

Liam Cunningham: “As an actor, if you’re properly neurotic, psychotic, and deeply unhappy, you’ve never, ever done your best scene, and you never, ever will. You chase it, but you never get it! You get a beautiful scene to do and you do your best with it.”

Carice van Houten: “If I may answer for you, the scene where he confronts me about burning Shireen and he almost starts crying …”

Liam Cunningham: “Glorious to do.”

Carice van Houten: “Just a little thing you whipped up!”

Liam Cunningham: “I improvised all of that. [Laughs.]”

Carice van Houten: “It was really heartbreaking.”

Liam Cunningham: “Well, that’s kind.”

Carice van Houten (Melisandre)

“It was probably when they came and said to Stannis, after Shireen dies, ‘All your horses are gone. Game over.’ The moment where I realized that it’s all gone to hell and I’ve made a mistake. To internalize that, without any words, just take it in and play it like, Oh my god, what did I do?

Pilou Asbæk (Euron Greyjoy)

“You know what they say about the Olympics? Every time there’s been an Olympics, the [head of the IOC] says, ‘This has been the best Olympics so far.’ I always think the last thing you did is the best thing you did, because you’re getting better and better with the years. But that said, I really loved my battle on the ship. There’s a lot of dialogue on this show, and sometimes doing physical work is just wonderful. You have to run from A to B, fire a cannon, run over here, kill ten people! You enjoy it!”

Jerome Flynn (Bronn)

“I didn’t come away from any thinking, I’ve done my best work, but you check and think, Did I give it the best I can? The wonderful thing is, they really gave us the time, you know? A really luxurious amount of time. We had every chance to give it our best shot. In terms of an enjoyable [scene], Bronn’s sequence in the loot train, for me, was [the best]. Because I was dying to do some proper kind of battle action. I got three or four minutes there when I was in the thick of it. It was like being a kid in a sweet factory.”

Hannah Murray (Gilly)

“It might sound a little odd, but I’m most proud of the love scene, because that was the one I felt I had the most input. When I read the scripted version, I felt it was slightly more from Samwell’s perspective. I emailed David and Dan and I said, ‘Can we talk about what’s going on with Gilly here?’ Given the background that she comes from, the systematic abuse from her father, I really wanted that to be present — the fact that it was the first time we were seeing her experience loving sex as opposed to abusive sex. I had a lot of strong feelings about how I wanted that scene to go. They were really receptive to discussing those with me, and really open to making sure we included all of those moments. I felt like I was able to contribute a layer to that scene that maybe wasn’t there on the page.”

John Bradley (Samwell Tarly)

“The sequence where Sam gets beat up by the men in the Night’s Watch. On the show, a lot of the violence is very choreographed and quite graceful and quite balletic. There can be something quite savagely beautiful about it. But what we tried to get in that scene, and Miguel [Sapochnik, the director] was very strong on, is this should be violence at its ugliest. Often, in fiction, violence isn’t necessarily treated with enough of a gut reaction. You can get desensitized to it. We wanted to make it look like when Sam gets beaten up, you’re seeing a human being get beaten up. People in films seem to be able to get punched 30 times and carry on like nothing’s happened! This felt like a real examination of how damaging even everyday violence can be.”

Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane)

“When you finish sequences like the Battle of the Bastards, Hardhome, the lake, it always feels like you’ve given everything. Sometimes we shoot it chronologically, so it feels like one thing. That always gives a lot of pressure.”

Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion)

“Every time I lift my sword up …”

Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm)

Jacob Anderson: “All of them. I’m just like [puts chin under fist] ‘What a fine young actor!’”

Joe Dempsie: “Your fight scenes, though! There must be some times when you’re watching them back going, ‘I can’t quite believe that’s me!’”

Jacob Anderson: “In all seriousness, I am quite proud of myself in the fights because it’s really like a dance. I’m learning real choreography. It’s very rewarding to see it boosted up by the VFX department who add all the blood and that stuff. I look pretty badass. I hate when I speak, though! I’m like, ‘Shut up! Get off! Get in the sea!’”

Joe Dempsie: “Gendry’s trying to get out of the sea.”

Joe Dempsie (Gendry)

“I really enjoyed the scene when Davos comes to visit Gendry while he’s being held prisoner by Stannis and Melisandre. They bond over their shared childhood experiences in Flea Bottom, and the fact that here they are, these two commoners from the slums, being used as political pawns by privileged people. What are you going to do? It was also very soon after Gendry had been taken off on his own, and that was the beginning of finding out a bit more about him. And I just really wanted to work with Liam Cunningham. He’s such a fantastic actor. Terrible man, though! Terrible! [Laughs.]”

Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon)

“It’s one that wasn’t in the books, David and Dan wrote it. It’s the only scene where you see Robert and Cersei speak. It’s a seven-page scene, and they threw that at us at the last minute and said, ‘Can you do this one this afternoon when you come back from the forest?’ But we managed to do it. It was Robert and Cersei being human. Her asking, ‘Did you ever think that we could have been …’ and he says, ‘No.’ It’s horrible, but beautiful to do a scene like that with Lena because she’s absolutely brilliant.”

Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister)

“I think I skinned a deer pretty well! I’d never done that before. The guy came in, showed me what to do, showed me some knives. He said, ‘Which one do you want?’ and I said, ‘This one.’ I was hoping they were going to give me a haunch of venison to take home for the weekend. They didn’t give me a toenail!”

Esme Bianco (Ros)

Photo: HBO

“There’s a specific scene that I did with Alfie Allen that I was very fond of — the risqué bedroom scene we had together. Firstly, I starved myself and worked out for three hours the day before I did it, so I look back and I go, Oh yeah, that’ll do! There was my youth, captured for forever. I always say that if I can’t remember what I’ve done when they shout cut, that for me is a good sign. It means I was so in it. The whole day was like that. When I watch it, I can see that in myself. I was just in the moment and enjoying it.”

Read Vulture’s guide to every Game of Thrones season, recapped and explained.

19 Game of Thrones Actors on Their Best Scenes