Game of Thrones brought us some of the most memorable TV moments of the 21st century over the course of its eight season run, but it turns out some of the biggest drama actually took place off screen.
For all of the friendships that blossomed on set (Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams are the real winners of the Game of Thrones, in our eyes), there were conflicts that dogged production on the HBO show from the very start.
Whether it was guest stars showering people in food, or actors holding grudges with one another for years at a time, there was almost as much conflict behind the camera as there was in front of it.
These are the biggest rows and feuds that went on behind the scenes in Westeros.
Ian McShane and the burger
Ian McShane’s guest appearance on Game of Thrones wasn’t exactly plane sailing for show bosses. The actor spoke about the drama in a damning way in interviews, dismissing it as just ‘tits and dragons’, before hitting out at fans by telling them they needed to get a ‘get a f***ing life’.
His time on set wasn’t much better. While filming his role as spiritual leader Brother Ray in season six, there was an incident that involved a burger and an argument with Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane actor Rory McCann.
As Game of Thrones director Mark Mylod revealed in James Hibberd’s book Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, the actor took issue with the burger he’d been served for lunch on set. Instead of merely throwing it away, he decided to kick it as hard as he could, saying what he thought of the dish in no uncertain terms. Not only did it fly high into the air, but it landed Rory, who was eating his lunch nearby.
Ian’s burger flip-out went down in folklore on the show, and his dislike for the dish led to the show changing caterers – something director James admitted to being thankful for.
Nathalie Emmanuel’s comments from a sexist co-star
Emilia Clarke was forced to step in during one unpleasant incident on the set of Game of Thrones, after a supporting actor made a sexist comment towards Nathalie Emmanuel.
The actress joined the cast of the HBO as Missandei during season three of the show, and became friends with Daenerys Targaryen star Emilia. Nathalie said the pair are close and ‘always looked out for each other’ as ‘the only girls on a male-dominated set’.
Emily had her back after Nathalie suffered an uncomfortable incident during one shoot, when a male actor made an inappropriate comment about the ‘revealing’ clothes she was wearing during a scene – something which didn’t go down well at all.
Speaking to Vogue, Nathalie said: ‘In my first season, my costume was pretty revealing, and there was an incident with a supporting actor who made a comment about it on set – I mean, typical – and Emilia straightaway had my back. It got handled.’
Disagreements over the un-released pilot
While not strictly a feud, the unaired Game of Thrones pilot was a moment of disagreement that proves drama was at the heart of Game of Thrones from the very beginning.
The HBO epic might be one of the most successful shows in the history of television, but things were nearly so different.
The original episode featured different cast members, and a negative reaction to initial screenings brought about many changes. In fact, the show might never have been made if screenwriter friends of showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff hadn’t voiced their displeasure and pleaded with them to tear up the original script and start from scratch.
‘Watching them watch that original pilot was one of the most painful experiences of my life,’ Weiss said about his friends on John August and Craig Mazin’s podcast Scriptnotes. ‘As soon as it finished, [one friend] said, ‘You guys have a massive problem.’’
Had the friends of Weiss and Benioff not taken issue with them, then the show would have been very different. Conflict is the essence of great drama, after all.
Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn
One of the most speculated-over conflicts on the show is the alleged feud between Jerome Flynn and Lena Headey.
While the pair’s characters Ser Bronn of the Blackwater and Cersei Lannister were directly involved in a plot to kill the Lannister brothers, they were only ever seen together in one short sequence from the season three premiere episode Valar Dohaeris, which got fans a little suspicious.
The pair first starred opposite each other in 90s ITV drama Soldier, Soldier, and rumours of a romantic connection between them first surfaced way back in 2002. They were never officially confirmed, but it was also later reported that the pair had dated and broken up in 2014 when season four of Game Of Thrones was on air.
It was alleged that the pair had gone through a difficult break-up, and had been kept apart on screen as a result of an acrimonious split.
However, speaking to Con of Thrones audiences in Nashville in 2019, Jerome went some way to setting the record straight.
‘The last time I saw Lena we were speaking, so I wouldn’t believe everything you read,’ he said. ‘[The media] can get pretty desperate for stories… Lena’s a wonderful person and a wonderful actress.’
Game Of Thrones is available to stream on HBO, Sky and NOW TV.
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