Ever since debuting in December 2010, HBO's iconic fantasy series Game of Thrones is no stranger to setting new records. After winning 12 Emmy Awards last year, it's tally of 38 surpassed Frasier's 37 Emmy's for the most Emmy's of all time for a scripted series. The fantasy series has also set records for the biggest global TV simulcast, when the Season 5 premiere debuted simultaneously in 173 countries at once, and it even has the most Funko figurines ever sold for a TV show. Today we have word that the show has set a much more dangerous record, with a Season 7 scene that features the most people set on fire at once.
Entertainment Weekly caught up with Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff, who revealed that an upcoming scene features the most stuntmen set on fire at once. While the showrunner wouldn't say much about the scene, it seems likely that Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) dragons are involved. Here's what David Benioff had to say about why they went so big for this sequence.
"In one battle scene we set more stuntmen on fire than have ever been simultaneously set on fire. Our stunt coordinator really wanted to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for this."
EW also reports, though, that Guinness doesn't track any movies or TV shows for setting people ablaze, but it's possible that it may be added in a future edition of the record book, after this episode airs. Stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam, who has worked on Guardians of the Galaxy, Skyfall and The Bourne Ultimatum, to name a few, offered some more details about exactly how many stuntmen were set on fire. Here's what he had to say below, clarifying that there are actually two records the show has set and that they had to up the ante due to the "attacking animals," i.e. Daenerys' dragons.
"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, which is also a record. I think in Saving Private Ryan they had 13 on a beach, and on Braveheart they had 18 partial burns. Because of the nature of our attacking animals, we had the liberty to expand on that."
We saw in the Season 6 finale that Daenerys, her massive fleet and her fire-breathing dragons were all en route to Westeros, and it is believed that she will land at Dragonstone, her ancestral homeland, before moving on to King's Landing to stake her claim for the Iron Throne. As for who the stuntmen set ablaze were playing, the showrunner or stunt coordinator wouldn't say anything about the characters, but Rowley Irlam did offer more details about how dangerous setting stuntmen on fire really is. The stuntmen are covered in "fire-resistant clothes, cooling gel and a mask," but during the shot itself, they have to completely hold their breath for both the shot, and the process of extinguishing the flames, which can take upwards of 30 seconds to an additional minute. Here's what Rowley Irlam had to say about the difference between holding your breath underwater, and holding your breath for these fire scenes, and how the most dangerous part is after the fire is extinguished.
"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."
Even with a record amount of stuntmen being set on fire, during three weeks of shooting, only one stuntman suffered a minor injury of burning his hand. Rowley Irlam also wanted to make sure that each character delivered a performance that made each character unique. Here's what he had to say below.
"We try to think about what this would actually feel like to make it real for the viewers. We do different performances so hopefully you look through the fire and see a human being in the final throes of life. We try very hard to make it really feel like a casualty of war."
Neither David Benioff nor Rowley Irlam wouldn't even comment about where exactly in Game of Thrones Season 7 that this fiery scene takes place, but with the Season 7 premiere airing Sunday July 16 at 9 PM ET on HBO, we'll find out sooner rather than later. Fans have had to suffer a longer wait for Game of Thrones this year, with production being delayed several months since the show was in need of colder climates, due to winter finally arriving in Westeros. This season will span just seven episodes, and it has been confirmed that the eighth and final season will span just six episodes and that it may not debut until early 2019.