Fire cannot kill a dragon, but Viserys Targaryen was no dragon. Actor Harry Lloyd knew this before filming season 1 of Game of Thrones, and he knew the abusive sibling of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) wouldn’t live to see season 2. But his death at the hands of Jason Momoa’s Khal Drogo — who poured molten gold over his brother-in-law’s head after he got drunk and threw a fit in the worst way possible — helped set the tone for the rest of the show. “Valar morghulis,” as they say. Ahead of the final season of GoT, Lloyd looks back on his last hurrah.

HARRY LLOYD: It was pretty much the last thing I shot. It was in Belfast, and we’re pretending we’re in this balmy desert tent. It was freezing cold and we spent all day doing this big sequence. Everyone else was inside by the campfire, and I start outside in every take. On this soundstage I had this chair set up, this huge big snow coat that I put on over my costume. I would sit there with my honey and ginger hot tea to keep warm because I was screaming a lot. I’m pretty sure I raided my hotel minibar and kept pumping up my tea with a little bit of whiskey, because it was a long day and it put the taste of alcohol in your mouth. Pretending to be drunk at 9 in the morning, that was my little secret.…

Credit: HBO

During our lunch, I rehearsed the breaking of the arm with stuntmen on the next-door set, which was the Iron Throne, which I thought was quite ironic.… All of the actual gold stuff was done quite quickly at the end. You only really get one or two attempts with the costume. Then I put on a gold hat that they molded [for] the final shot. [Makeup designer] Paul Engelen, we had a very quick session to put all the burn makeup on, and then we had a funny smoke machine that I wore around my neck with this gold paint…. I think it was paint with a little gelatin or something in it to make it more thick and goopy. They did a cast of my head, and they made this rubber gold hat, as it were. I already had a bald cap on, which I wore under the wig. The final bit, I think we took the wig off. I had this other, slightly crummier tattered wig [for the scene], and then they glued this gold cap onto my head, which perfectly fit the shape of my skull.

I was slightly stressed at the end of the day because we were running out of time, and if it hadn’t been stressful and hot and sweaty and dirty, it would’ve been quite nice pouring this heavy liquid on. All you have to do is just scream. It’s your final moment on a show, you stop worrying about overacting. You leave it all on the floor. I did some research and talked to some doctor friend about what would kill you. Would it be the gold penetrating the skull? Cutting off the brain? What would actually be the thing that kills you? And I was thinking about how to play that. In the end when it happens, I just screamed.

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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