That jagged crown-like skull. That menacing gaze. Those frosty blue eyes.
Fans first glimpsed the mysterious origins of the Night King, the mute menace of the icy North, in a flashback scene set thousands of years ago. The Children of the Forest tied a man to a tree and pierced his heart with dragonglass, creating a demon to unleash upon their enemies, the First Men. Since then, the character has led his growing army south, killed and commandeered one of Daenerys’ dragons, and brought down The Wall that has prevented his evil forces from entering Westeros. In the final season of Game of Thrones, the Night King is bringing war to Winterfell, and EW got Slovak actor and stuntman Vladimir Furdik (who has played the character since season 6, taking over for Richard Brake) to break his vow of silence.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What stunts can we see you doing on Thrones before you became the Night King?
VLADIMIR FURDIK: I did a lot of horse falls, fire drops, high falls, sword fights. I doubled for Arthur Dayne [for the Tower of Joy fight scene]. I’m one of the men jumping from the boat in the fire [during Daenerys’ dragon attack].
How did you come to take over the role?
I don’t really know why they cast me. When we did season 5, I was the White Walker who fought Jon Snow [in “Hardhome”] — the first time Jon Snow killed a White Walker, that was me. After that, [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] asked if I’d play the Night King for seasons 6 through 8. I never asked why. Maybe they were happy with what I did in season 5.
What sort of acting directions do you get for playing the Night King? He doesn’t blink much, I’ve noticed.
Every director has a different vision of how to play him. Dan and David want him to be like a cold man, some of the directors want to show that there’s some human in him. Yes, many times they ask me don’t try to blink your eyes. This is very difficult.
What does the Night King want, anyway?
Somebody made him the Night King. Nobody knows who he was before — a soldier or part of [nobility]. He never wanted to be the Night King. I think he wants revenge. Everybody in this story has two sides — a bad side and a good side. The Night King only has one side, a bad side.
Do fans recognize you? What are their reactions?
Not often. Sometimes. Many people ask me: “Can you please kill Jon Snow?” It’s very interesting. Sometimes I watch YouTube reactions after the season airs. Fifty percent of people love the Night King and 50 percent of people hate him. And since I replaced Richard Brake, some people like how I play him and some don’t.
What can we expect from him in the final season?
People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is. There’s also that moment [in “Hardhome”] when Jon Snow was on the boat and the Night King looked at him and raised his arms — there’s a similar and even stronger moment between Jon and the Night King this time.
Do you have an all-time favorite Night King scene?
That’s still coming.
Read EW’s new cover story going behind the scenes of season 8 in Belfast. We also launched our cast portraits gallery, which has some gorgeous photos and all sorts of storyline teases from the cast. Game of Thrones returns April 14. EW.com will have daily coverage up until launch and through the season. Follow @jameshibberd for GoT scoop.
Get your copy of Entertainment Weekly’s biggest Game of Thrones issue ever: 78 pages of exclusive stories and photos on the past, present, and future of the HBO hit. Buy your choice of 16 different covers now, or pick up the issue on stands Friday. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
- Game of Thrones season 8 trailer is finally here
- Read EW’s complete coverage of Game of Thrones’ final season
- George R.R. Martin has ‘mixed feelings’ about Game of Thrones ending, hasn’t read scripts