Our interview with “Battle of the Bastards” director Miguel Sapochnik continues below with the director taking our burning questions on Ramsay Bolton’s fate. For those who missed it, here’s part one of our Q&A, where the director went into great detail about pulling off the battle scenes.
Entertainment Weekly: Jon beating Ramsay is such an emotionally satisfying bloodlust moment that finally puts these two characters in contact with one another. What was is like shooting that scene?
Miguel Sapochnik: We spent an entire day beating Ramsay. It was a little surreal but mostly fun. I mean you have to make it fun to take the nastiness out of it on set.
Early on, Kit and I discussed what that moment was and how it should be an empty victory for Jon. His character takes a nose dive into darkness this season in some respects. His faith in humanity is fractured and fragile, he’s tired of fighting and living and yet he cannot seem to die and so in a way he’s lost.
From a certain point of view, Battle of the Bastards is all about his journey back to life, at the 11th hour, rediscovering the desire to live.
As we were mulling that over and how we might show this conflict one day, Kit said to me “I’m just going to punch him like I’m kneading bread.’” And I thought fantastic; this is going to be both poignant and horrible.
And that’s what we did. Poor Iwan took it on the chin a few times but he did an amazing job. They both did. There’s this weird moment that made the final cut when Iwan stops scrunching up his face to receive the blows and just lets himself relax into it. On camera it looks like we’ve used some sort of digital effect to make his face change but it’s all real. Really disconcerting and kind of disturbing.
Sansa and Ramsay’s final scene together capped the show’s most controversial storyline, what were your goals with that? When Ramsay had his hounds attack Lady Walda the choice was made to not show anything really. What options were weighed for how much to show here?
I must admit I kind of wanted to make people start to feel for Ramsay in that wonderful way Thrones turns these things on their head but [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] were clear: They didn’t want anyone to sympathize with Ramsay Bolton and this time they wanted blood.
In a way I agree, this is not a time to be morally ambiguous. Ramsay needs to die, and horribly. This is what the audience has been waiting to see. That said, there’s no need to dwell on the actual carnage. What’s left to our imagination is always way worse. The most effective moment for me was the sound of a squealing pig you hear from Ramsay in the background as Sansa walks away. Apparently it’s actually what happens when you rip someone’s wind pipe open while they’re still alive and gasping for air.
The other thing I loved was the close-up shot of Sansa as she watches the dogs attack. There’s a moment where she turns to leave but then stops and leans back in, lingering a moment longer. It’s my favorite shot of my episodes this year.
More Battle of the Bastards coverage: Ramsay Bolton actor Iwan Rheon on his exit; our deep-dive recap with our thoughts on the episode, director Miguel Sapochnik gives a detailed rundown of how he pulled it off. Sophie Turner on her final Ramsay confrontation. Below is our GoT podcast about our experiences on the “BOB” set: