For Season 7, Game of Thrones broke its own record for number of people set on fire

Meereen Battle 6x09 (14)

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.”

Drogon and Daenerys, likely during the battle in question

Drogon and Daenerys, during the battle in question

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.

42 responses

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    1. Lol, the things stunt guys are willing to do…
      Sounds horrifying…

      Might accidentally breath FIRE, lololol….

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    2. HelloThere: Might accidentally breath FIRE, lololol….

      That particular sentence by Irlam was the one that made it real for me, for some reason. I’m just used to the idea of stunt-men setting themselves on fire; they have flame-proof clothes, a special gel for their skin, even masks sometimes, as well as people all around to make sure the flames are extinguished as soon as possible… Yet I never considered they could slip up and literally breath in the flames. Absolutely horrifying!

      Looks damn good, though 😛

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    3. r-hard:
      BURN THEM ALL!!

      I mean, yes, sure, “burn them all”, totally… but not like, all, ALL, please? Please, George? D&D? Not all. Leave a few unburnt. I’m not asking for a happy ending for everyone, just… you know, a few characters who survive absolute dragon-induced incineration and the coming storm of the White Walkers. Please?

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    4. Looking at the Drogon pic, I wonder if it is much more difficult to simulate a strafing run from a flying dragon (attacking from above) than from a walking dragon that basically is pumping out fire horizontally. Looking forward to this scene.

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    5. Luka Nieto: I never considered they could slip up and literally breath in the flames

      I slipped up once and ate the “ghost pepper burger” at a bar & grill. It felt like I literally breathed in fire. The ‘evacuation’ wasn’t much better. 🙁

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    6. I’ll be glad when technology has advanced to the point where such things can be done believably without endangering human lives for the sake of our entertainment. These stunt people are fucking brave.

      All so we can cheer at dragons burning people alive.

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    7. Hodors Bastard:
      Looking at the Drogon pic, I wonder if it is much more difficult to simulate a strafing run from a flying dragon (attacking from above) than from a walking dragon that basically is pumping out fire horizontally. Looking forward to this scene.

      On a strategic note regarding the two… One would think three dragons flying abreast quietly from the rear and bathing them in flames in a fly over taking out huge swathes would be a very efficient start to the battle. For instance, picture Ramsay’s army all in formation and focused on Jon’s army across the field. Then *FWOOSH* and flames – nowhere to hide and little surface to air retaliation as they’d be flying away by the time arrows and bolts are fired. Otherwise, once it’s man-to-man Daenerys should be limited on what she has them roast to archers/back line men if she doesn’t want her men fried too.

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    8. Luka Nieto,

      I’m hoping for a 12 Monkeys-esq ending. Let the remaining humans hole up in Mole’s Town. The surface is for the trees and animals.

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    9. Clob: One would think three dragons flying abreast quietly from the rear and bathing them in flames in a fly over taking out huge swathes would be a very efficient start to the battle.

      Yeah, that’s exactly how I hope it will go down (from the end of the trailer), although think of the coordinated dragon-training involved and possible friendly-fire casualties! I was initially thrown for a loop seeing Big D traipsing down the battle field like a tank leading the men but I’m sure that is only a tease shot… 🙂

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    10. Catspaw Assassin,

      I’m sure some intrepid fan will catalog the manner and number of deaths on GoT once S8 comes to a close. I just hope one of them is Littlefinger dying an agonizing, slow death from peritonitis from a perforated bowel after his stupid mockingbird pin is forcibly implanted where the sun don’t shine.

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    11. Ten Bears,

      A) Indubitably
      B) Looking forward to that! 😉

      There was a book published after season one or two about characters who’d died and how, which I recall sold very well.

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    12. Hodors Bastard,

      My thoughts exactly. I wonder if they used a helicopter mounted flamethrower on an armature this time?!

      10 year old me used to dream up weird contraptions like that, never thought we might actually see a real-world application of such imagination.

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    13. Clob: On a strategic note regarding the two…One would think three dragons flying abreast quietly from the rear and bathing them in flames in a fly over taking out huge swathes would be a very efficient start to the battle.For instance, picture Ramsay’s army all in formation and focused on Jon’s army across the field.Then *FWOOSH* and flames – nowhere to hide and little surface to air retaliation as they’d be flying away by the time arrows and bolts are fired.Otherwise, once it’s man-to-man Daenerys should be limited on what she has them roast to archers/back line men if she doesn’t want her men fried too.

      Better yet, use the ground army as a decoy and fly in from behind!

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    14. Clob,

      Hodors Bastard,

      As per the Battle of the Bastards script, “the greatest war machine the world has ever seen.”
      While the dragons will probably have a huge advantage when in flight, it will be interesting to see how they will fare after landing against, say, 500.000 berserker wights (however flammable), the Walkers’ icy spears thrown at superhuman speeds, or even

      a Dragonslayer-like giant spear.

      Off topic:
      Another (somewhat different) army that included flying Fellbeasts (not breathing fire) and their riders, warriors from the East, with naval support from corsairs/sea reavers, which invaded another fictional West, was amassed twice by Sauron, in Tolkien’s legendarium.
      http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Sauron%27s_army

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    15. Valar Zalis.

      By God… 20 people set on fire. Plus, I imagine they’re Lannister soldiers. Poor buggers.

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    16. The Sybian: 500.000 berserker wights (however flammable)

      That’s a lot of frickin’ wights! Does anyone know the number of flamethrows possible per dragon before refueling is necessary? How about the average number of casualties (human and wight) possible per flamethrow? They need to plan accordingly.

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    17. Viz: Better yet, use the ground army as a decoy and fly in from behind!

      Stannis would be proud of that maneuver. 😉

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    18. Oh please. Guinness makes records out of the most random shit, I’m sure they could have done this!

      That headline. 😂 Only us Game of Thrones devotees would be all “Yeahhhhh!!!!!”

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    19. While the use of dragonfire as an anti-personnel agent is an obvious idea, consider the effect on fortifications. In “Garden of Bones,” Gendry (an expert on what the application of fire to materials can accomplish) notes that Harrenhal’s stone battlements were *melted* by dragonfire.

      Not even hiding under Casterly Rock might save the Lannisters now!

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    20. That is so cool, when I see Drogon roasting all those Lannister soldiers, I’ll remember all the work the stunt doubles put into it.

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    21. Luka Nieto,

      Did you say Unburnt .iam afraid there can be only one

      The Sybian,

      During dance of dragons sunfyre was injured and broken his wing in a fight agmooton dragon meleys rode by rhaenys ..
      And it stayed in rooks rest to recover and lord walys mooton attempted to slay it by sending the soldiers and they failed completely..
      The soldiers couldn’t kill the injured dragon but dragon killed them and escaped …
      The only dragonslayers found in KL were those that killed baby dragons or dragons that are too small to fight

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    22. Catspaw Assassin,
      I think you might have stumbled on the bittersweet ending people often talk of. A song of ice and fire where everyone dies, either frozen or burned o.0

      (Everyone dead is the bitter bit, the sweet is that there’s no-one left to fight and peace is restored.)

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    23. Here is my rewrite of Tyrion’s story line in S6. Have the master’s invade Mereen in episode 1, except add Cleon of Astapor to the mix (he was mentioned in S5). Cleon will be the big baddie, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (we’ll go back in time and erase his role from S5). Almost immediately, he backstabs and eliminates the other masters of Yunkai and Mereen. He is very cruel and pits men to fight against the dragons, looking for the one who can tame them. He imprisons Missandei and Greyworm while Tyrion and Varys escape. So as Missandei and Greyworm try and survive, Tyrion and Varys scheme and look for a way to rescue the city from Cleon’s brutal reign. In doing so, they employ the help of Kinvara for some black magic (which will come back to burn them in S7). In the finale, Tyrion breaks into the dragon pen and rides one of the dragons into the great pyramid where he roasts Cleon. One of Missandei or Greyworm maybe perishes tragically.

      /mic drop

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    24. Emilia Clarke just posted a Vote Labour poster on her instagram. Just imagine if she and Mark Ruffalo were the characters they played in works of fiction. Jezza would literally have three dragons & the Incredible Hulk on his side.

      #VoteNHS

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    25. Totally O/T but it’s given me a good laugh. Here in the UK we have a firm of opticians called Specsavers. I need some new glasses so have been browsing and discovered they have some named after GoT characters. In the women’s section we have, in what looks like plastic: Ygritte – roundish, dark red; Arya – same shape, dark blackish purple; Tarth – slightly more square, dark green; Shae – more square than Tarth, dark pinky/purple; and in metal Daenerys – round, bluish purple and Sansa – squarer and bronze. You can see them here. And for the boys, in plastic there’s Tyrion – roundish, very dark blue; Stark – circular, navy blue; Snow – squarer than Tyrion, black; Greyjoy, rounder than Tyrion, dark brown (not grey, missed a trick there) and Bolton – square, black and brown tortoise shell pattern. While in metal it’s Hodor – square and, I’m not exactly sure what to call that colour, a kind of greeny brown? Anyway the boys are here.

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    26. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      I needed a good laugh today, so thanks.

      I also appreciated the hipster “drop the mic” at the end, although, it’s become a bit cliche at this point. Perhaps an additional twist or two to the mic drop would’ve been considered better writing.

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    27. Lulus Mum,

      Hello fellow wearer of glasses! Which would you choose? My favourite are Tarth and Shae. And the Bolton ones look stylish! Actually, irl mine are metal, which covers only the upper part.

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    28. Shy Lady Dragon,
      Well hello there *you know I’m waving*. I like fairly large, round glasses that make the wearer look a bit like an owl and am very fond of purple. Due to having a rather complex prescription I need quite thick frames that go all the way around the lenses. The ones I ended up choosing are called Elle. Don’t remember any Elle’s in the show so they must be from one of the more obscure Houses I guess 😉

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    29. Lulus Mum,

      Yeah, being an owl reminds me of my youth! We are about the same age, but I favoured owl glasses during my university years. Now I like my glasses to be as discrete as possible and I could find ones to accommodate my progressive lenses – is this the right word? I mean they are both for distance and reading in one pair.
      Purple is a great colour!

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