Back on May, we reported on stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam’s impressive record claim: during the stunt that won him an Emmy for season five, with a crane-mounted flame thrower which spit fire at 45 feet, Irlam’s stunt team set 20 people on fire in a single day. Now, Game of Thrones has outdone itself for season seven in exactly the same feat.
Below the cut, “here be dragons”, as they say… but this time around they are much larger dragons, with the ability to burn so many more people than ever before. So many more.
Today, EW reported on this development, citing showrunner David Benioff first: for a single battle scene (which took “three weeks”, identifying it as the Malpartida shoot), they “set more stuntmen on fire than have ever been simultaneously set on fire.” Who could there be behind the feat but Rowley Irlam, who according to Benioff was quite eager to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for it, though Guinness apparently tracks no such thing, sadly. Nevertheless, Irlam remains quite proud of not only matching their previous record but, in another sense, completely smashing it:
“One sequence has 73 fire burns and that itself is a record. No film or TV show has ever done that in a whole show, let alone in one sequence. We also set 20 people on fire at one time,” Irlam revealed, the latter stunt coinciding with their previous record. “I think in Saving Private Ryan they had 13 on a beach, and on Braveheart 18 partial burns. Because of the nature of our attacking animals, we had the liberty to expand on that.”
Dragon hype aside, these are obviously dangerous stunts, and so they must be undertaken with the greatest care. Irlam has spoken about this issue before, insisting that despite the spectacle the stunts are as safe as can be. This time, the stunt coordinator walked EW through these precautions, from the equipment (such as fire-resistant clothes) to the requirement of holding their breath for 30 seconds, until the shot is filmed and the flames are extinguished. Half a minute may not seem that long (most of us can manage it, can’t we?), but as Irlam points out usually we aren’t on fire:
“It’s totally different from going underwater in your bathtub and counting the seconds in your head. If somebody bumps you and you breathe in by accident you will breathe in flame… The most dangerous thing is re-ignition. There’s a good minute of everybody staying down afterward as you’re still very flammable at this point.”
Hopefully, the willing suffering of these hard-working stuntmen will pay dividends when season seven arrives to our screens and the dragons incinerate dozens of Lannister soldiers (or hundreds, once the visual effects are done), all for our sick amusement.