The biggest battle in the history of Westeros — that we’ve ever witnessed, at least — is happening this Sunday on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and EW has some preview details on the eagerly awaited Battle of the Bastards. Above is an exclusive photo of Jon Snow on the battlefield, Longclaw in hand, and it looks like he’s channeling some serious war-rage as he prepares to take on the forces of fellow bastard Ramsay Bolton.
The hour (literally an hour; the episode is 60 minutes long) is directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who last season helmed the stunning “Hardhome.”
“Every battle on Thrones is unique,” Sapochnik tells us. “I think that’s why [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] keep doing them. In the case of ‘Battle of the Bastards’ — or ‘BOB’ as we affectionately called it in production — David and Dan wanted to do a thing of spectacle, a strategic pitchfield battle they hadn’t had the resources to do back in season 1 or 2. I was particularly interested in depicting both the horror of war and the role of luck in battle.”
The result required 25 days of filming, with 500 extras, 600 crew members and 70 horses — horses, by the way, are “not easy at all” to coordinate in a battle sequence, notes Benioff, which is why they’re rarely used except in big budget war films.
“Miguel did such a fantastic job with ‘Hardhome’ last season, we thought we should bring him back, this time with horses,” Benioff says. “Some of the shots he’s pulled off are some of the best on the show.”
Adds Weiss: “Miguel’s really outdone himself. Fully fleshed out medieval battles require a tremendous amount of resources and choreography to get them right. It feels like we’re doing something fresh that you don’t see on TV and movies very often.”
For much more on “Battle of the Bastards,” pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly where we went behind the scenes in Northern Ireland. And be sure to come to EW.com after watching the episode Sunday night, as we’ll have a recap and interviews. I’ll also discuss my time on the “BOB” set on next week’s EW Game of Thrones Weekly podcast. Until then, enjoy the latest podcast episode below.