A professional stuntman for Game of Thrones since season five, Vladimir Furdik got the call to take over the role as the Night King. Playing a white walker in the episode “Hardhome,” Furdik didn’t know he would replace the original actor for the Night King, Richard Brake.
“I worked on the show [before], and they were happy with my performance with what I did,” Furdik explained about that phone call. “They asked if I’d like to be the Night King. I tell it to you in the simple, easy way because you gave me the simple, easy question. (Laughs.) They knew me, they decided to give me the role, and I said yes.”
Furdik wasn’t given much material to work with beforehand on the character. The Night King doesn’t speak at all throughout the show, instead, he has mastered the icy cold stare with his piercing blue eyes.
“The mask informed a lot,” said Furdik. “If you have a good director, it’s easy. A good director will direct you exactly and will [tell] you what you need to do. It’s not so difficult. It can be difficult on a set, but not if you have a good support [system]. When I get to the set, I feel comfortable. Maybe the day before? I’m a little bit scared of how it will be. But when they give me the costume and the makeup, and when I go to the set and meet with the director, I feel like I can do anything.”
While donning the Night King character, Furdik also handled stunts for other actors on the show. Shooting the episode, “The Long Night,” was just as brutal for Furdik.
“I went to the set, where we did one month’s preparation before shooting,” said Furdik. “It was a three-month shoot, and one month before. Then we did another month on a stage inside, reshooting some small pieces. This was one of the hardest jobs of my life. We had meetings with [the individual actors for their own battles], depending on who’s fighting with who: Jorah (Iain Glen), Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), and what they are doing. For every battle with these actors, we prepared exactly the movements for them. Every kill, and every move they made, was prepared over weeks and weeks, and hours and hours. We were so busy. Every move that happens doesn’t happen just because; it happens because we prepared it. Every jump — everything.”
The final scene shows Arya (Maisie Williams) killing the Night King. On TV, the act looked effortless, but behind the camera, Williams and Furdik worked tirelessly under an immense amount of pressure.
“It was a very emotional day and night,” said Furdik. “It was so strong. I spent all my energy playing it, and she as well. It was not an easy day. It was cold. There was rain. She was on a wire, in a harness, jumping many times. It wasn’t just the one time; it was maybe 15 times. When I have to hold her under the jaw and it looks like she dies, we had to spend a lot of energy on that particular scene. It was very, very difficult. We are very good friends. We know each other. It wasn’t easy for me to [pretend to] hurt her. When I grabbed her under the jaw, it wasn’t easy [on a practical level]. If you make a bad move — if you don’t grab her well — she could have an injury. So I was under pressure and she was under pressure. It was not an easy day.”
Now that the Night King is dead, Furdik will surely miss the people who helped the character come alive.
“This was the costume and makeup departments who helped me to be the man who was out in front of the camera,” explained Furdik. “You might not know it, but it’s maybe 25 or 30 people who helped me be that man, with the prosthetics, the makeup, the camera department, the lighting. I miss these people. It would be a very hard day and I would think, ‘I would like to go home.’ But after one week home? You start missing these people.”