Kit Harrington described the moment he faced 40 horses charging towards him as “really scary”.
The British star, who plays Jon Snow in HBO’s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones (GoT), faced a real-life cavalry charge in the filming of the penultimate episode of series six — The Battle of the Bastards — which aired on 20 June.
More than 80 specially trained stunt horses appeared in the largest pitched battle yet screened on the show.
“Until the last minute I was stood there facing off against this cavalry charge — which was really scary,” Kit said in a documentary about how the episode was filmed.
“We were a bit annoyed because everyone is going to think it was CGI, and it wasn’t!”
The incredible clash of cavalry was made possible thanks to the specialist skills of Camilla Naprous from stunt company the Devil’s Horsemen.
“It was the biggest number of horses ever used in a TV battle,” she told H&H.
Although it appeared the horses were colliding, Ms Naprous had organised it so they passed through 2ft gaps to avoid injury.
In the GoT battle the horses seem to fall heavily when their riders are hit by arrows.
But in reality they fell on to padded beds to ensure they were unhurt.
“I’d never fall a horse without a bed and only allow horses to fall three times a day in front of the camera,” said Ms Naprous.
A remote-controlled camera was installed on a Land Rover to keep up with the galloping horses.
Ms Naprous is the daughter of stuntman Gerard who set up the Devil’s Horsemen over 40 years ago.
The family has more than 100 horses at their Milton Keynes base, mostly Andalusian and Lusitano breeds from Portugal, although there are a few Welsh cobs.
For the Battle of the Bastards or Bob as it was christened by the GoT production team, 80% of them were taken to Ireland.
“We looked at every piece of horse footage in a battle ever made beforehand,” said Ms Naprous.
“Working closely with the visual effects team we worked out what falls we could use so as not to hurt the horses. Safety is my main concern.”
- Game of Thrones equine stars head to Gatcombe
- Top eventer prepares to whip up a feast on Come Dine With Me
- Shetland pony becomes internet hit after appearing on Celebrity Big Brother
This August the Devil’s Horsemen horses will be going back to Ireland to film the seventh series of GoT.
Just before they set off they will be performing at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe.