More than 24 hours after the infamous "Red Wedding" aired in "Game of Thrones," fans of the HBO series are still not over their devastation.
As it turns out, neither are the actors and creators of the series, for whom the massacre meant the departure of several beloved members of the cast.
Actors Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) and Richard Madden (Robb Stark), along with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and book author George R.R. Martin, all spoke movingly about what the "Red Wedding" meant to them.
Richard Madden (Robb Stark):
Madden, whose role had been expanded beyond the books for the show, found the scenes to be incredibly difficult to shoot after five years of working with the cast and crew of "Game of Thrones."
"It was horrible. It was a very difficult day for everyone," Madden told Entertainment Weekly. "It wasn’t just my last scene in the show, it was also my last day on the set. It was, Michelle [Fairley] and I, our last scene on Game of Thrones."
"After we wrapped, it had been an exhausting five-day shoot. We were mentally exhausted. I cried my eyes out, completely -- as did a lot of the crew and other actors. It was very emotional. The wrap party was that night, but I had to start filming another job the next day. So I washed my blood off and got on a plane."
Madden said the emotions of leaving were still raw, and that watching the episode would help him gain the closure to move on from the show.
"There was just a total sense of exhaustion, and it was horrific. These characters that you love get slaughtered," he told Rolling Stone.
"Once I see the episode -- that'll be really difficult to watch, I think it'll dredge up a lot of emotions and stuff that I've pushed aside for a while, but I think that will really part me with Robb," he said. "It was really hard shooting the end of it. It's still very difficult for me to process that I'm not going back, that it is completely gone. It's funny, because I'm still very close with all the crew, and I've been talking to the hair department and the other actors who are all gearing up and going back into it. That's really strange to me. Just now, we're gearing up into summer, and I should be starting back on the show, but I'm not. Until I see that episode, I won't be able to put it all to rest, but once I see it I'm sure I'll be able to send it down the river.
Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark)
Like the man playing her son, Fairley struggled to cope with the end of the "Red Wedding" shoot, unable to speak with fellow members of the cast and crew for days afterward.
"It’s incredibly emotional," she explained to Entertainment Weekly. "And [producer] Dan Weiss had left me a voice-mail and I did try to ring him back but by the end of the day I was a walking shell."
"Kevin, [our] wonderful hair designer, he cut my hair for me," she told Access Hollywood. "I underestimated how much that this would take out of me."
"This was after everybody had wrapped, so we had a couple hours of sitting together talking and he cut my hair and… you know some people cut their hair when they break up a relationship -- they change their look? But my hair really did need a cut at this point, so Kevin, bless him, did it and we chatted and then I went and had dinner with David Benioff and a couple of others -- with [Talisa Stark actress] Oona Chaplin. And Richard, by this point, was already on a plane, crying, and it was incredibly emotional. It was. It was really emotional. I’ve never been that emotionally exhausted before, ever."
But unlike Madden, Fairley said she wasn't sure she could stomach watching her character's life end on screen*.
"I don’t think I could watch it," she explained. "I really don’t think I could. I want to, but I don’t think I can. I might watch it one day."
Can't say thank you enough GoT fans. Love to you all .Overwhelmed from all the heartfelt tweets. Was truly a wonderful experience. MF xx— Michelle Fairley (@RealMsFairley) June 3, 2013
David Benioff and Dan Weiss (Show creators):
For the two guys who made it all happen, the Red Wedding has always been a seminal moment to look forward to.
"From the beginning we’d always prayed we’d get to season three at least because, you know, two of our favorite scenes from the entire saga are in season three," Benioff told EW.
"I just remember reading the book before we’d even written the pilot and thinking, 'Oh, my God, we’ve got to get this. We’ve got to get this show to happen because if we can make this scene work, it’s gonna be one of the greatest things ever on television or film.'"
Now that they've finally arrived at such a huge turning point for the show, Benioff said the moment was bittersweet.
"We’re losing these actors who have been with us since the beginning. It’s hard, because you love the actors," he said. "You’re making all these people sad. But on the other hand, that’s kind of the idea. If we shot The Red Wedding and nobody got emotional, it would be a failure."
For Weiss, the sadness that came from reaching the Red Wedding was about disrupting the on-set atmosphere that had come from working through the show's three seasons.
"On set, everybody hangs out together," Weiss explained. "It’s like a member of your family moving across the ocean. You’ll still see them on a holiday. We’ll still see them at conventions for the next 25 years."
"When you can’t take for granted that a character you love on the show is going to be around forever, it makes you pay more attention to them," he said.
George R.R. Martin (Author, "A Song of Ice and Fire")
But the man who takes the most heat for the tragic scene is George R.R. Martin, whose books inspired the show.
Martin said fans have approached him over the years since "A Storm of Swords," the series' third book, was published in 2000, to lament the Red Wedding.
"It’s probably the most powerful scene in the books," Martin told Entertainment Weekly. "It cost me some readers, but gained me many more."
Even with his bloodthirsty reputation -- thousands of people die through the course of the unfinished series of books -- Martin said he struggled with this particular scene.
"That was the hardest scene I’ve ever had to write," he said. "It’s two-thirds of the way through the book, but I skipped over it when I came to it."
"So the entire book was done and there was still that one chapter left, he reminisced. "Then I wrote it. It was like murdering two of your children. I try to make the readers feel they’ve lived the events of the book. Just as you grieve if a friend is killed, you should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care. If somebody dies and you just go get more popcorn, it’s a superficial experience isn’t it?"
But just because the deaths are at his hand (or pen), doesn't mean it's any easier for him to stomach. In fact, because the show involves actors embodying the characters, it may be even more difficult than it was to write.
"It’s going to be hard for me to watch it," he said. "It’s going to be a tough night. Because I love these characters too. And in a TV show you get to know the actors. You’re also ending that relationship with an actor that you have affection for. Richard Madden and Michelle Fairley have done an amazing job."
Although it doesn't appear to be explicitly confirmed by any of the people involved in the show, Michelle Fairley's time with the show isn't over. Her character, Catelyn Stark, dies, but is revived and continues on as the (only sort-of alive) vengeful Lady Stoneheart, unable to speak from the gash in her throat.
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