Turns out, creating the Red Wedding scene from Game of Thrones Season 3 was almost as tough as watching it. Director David Nutter recently spoke about the process involved and touched upon his work on The CW’s Arrow spin-off featuring The Flash.
Considering some may still not have seen Game of Thrones Season 3, I’ll get to The Flash big first. Spoilers for Game of Thrones will follow after that. You have been warned.
Speaking with the Directors Guild of America, Nutter revealed he said yes to the Flash pilot before the script was finished, a decision he based on previous work experience with Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. While it’s not necessary, it’s nice to hear those working on comic properties are also fans. Nutter explained his background with comic books:
My father died when I was a year-and-a-half old and my mother raised me as a single parent. I lived in West Virginia and the one thing I used to do as a child was buy comic books. I would cut out the characters, and their angles, and how they looked and so forth, and create my own characters for these stories. I’d have Captain America, or Iron Man, or The Flash, or Superman, and I’d create my own stories.
Onto Game of Thrones, before the Red Wedding episode, Nutter directed the King’s Landing scene where Joffrey gets hit in the face with a cow pie as citizens riot. David Benioff and Dan Weiss were so impressed, they asked if he’d like to take on the game-changing episode in Season 3. He told DGA:
They knew how important it was. And I was like, ‘OK, well, that’s very nice, thank you.’ Then I started to hear more about this. And basically I started to bear this huge weight that got larger and larger on my back, realizing how important this is going to be. So for about nine months it was like, ‘I’m going to have to do the “Red Wedding,’’’ and finally I got the script and understood what was going on. I didn’t want to read the books past the screenplay’s format because they wanted that to be my first impression of what it was going to be. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I knew some things that were going on superficially, but I had no idea it would have that kind of effect.
He also spoke about the shooting process:
In some respects, I looked at it almost as an opera. It was all about how I set up the tables in the room, how I positioned who was going to sit where. It was important to shoot as much as possible in order so we didn’t have to go back and reshoot something really intense…I rehearsed with the actors two or three days before, and then with all the stunt people. It was important for them so they didn’t have to worry about the small things and could focus on the drama of it. It was not unlike a football coach outlining his plays on a chalkboard. Basically, I told everybody, ‘You’re going to sit here, you’re going to sit there, and this is going to happen.’
And about the day of the actual shoot:
I remember I was talking to Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, and I was directing him to go through this intense moment—which was wordless but full of emotion—and I said to him, ‘Even though there’s no dialogue here, this is almost a soliloquy concerning your love for Talisa.’ And we shot that moment between Robb and his bride and it was great…The characters were so beloved, not just for the audience, but even the crew involved with the process. This was a letting go of family members who were leaving the show for good. I remember the sequence [in which the character of Robb Stark dies], and when it was over, David Benioff turned to the script supervisor and said, ‘Did we get that?’ And she was crying her eyes out. It was really quite special, because everyone was feeling it. If everyone on the set can feel what you’re doing, keeping the integrity of it, it will translate to the screen.
And in case you were wondering, Nutter has seen the Red Wedding reaction video on YouTube. He said, “I just felt so grateful that I could actually see what I’d done and how it affected people.”
Check out the whole, in-depth interview at the Directors Guild of America website.