In the game of thrones, you win or you die—except when you’re turned into a White Walker, which is kind of a mash-up of both. Given the size of the horde that’s amassed under the Night King’s rule over the past seven seasons, it’s amazing to know how much detail goes into making the creatures a reality. One of the most iconic Walkers of the series recently shared just how much preparation goes into becoming the undead on Game of Thrones. Hint: It’s more than you think.
In an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post, actor Ross Mullan talked about his work playing some major White Walkers from the first few seasons of Game of Thrones. He was the Walker that Samwell Tarly killed with dragonglass, and he also delivered Craster’s baby to the Night King. Most famously, he was the first White Walker we ever truly saw, as he played the one on horseback leading an undead posse at the end of season two.
Even though his character was only on a horse for a couple of minutes, Mullan said he trained on horseback for five months before shooting the scene. His entire look was practical effects, except for the eye color and steam coming off his body, and it took four people and five hours in a makeup chair to achieve the look. Mullan also was given some freedom to interpret the character—not only because he didn’t have any lines, but also because they were also probably still testing the waters on how they wanted the Walkers to behave.
“You don’t have scripts and lines to work with. You try out different things, and are slowly being dictated to visually,” Mullan said. “It took four or five days to shoot a two-minute scene, because you’re seeing how different approaches and variations work.”
Mullan ultimately went with “stillness and intensity” for the character, letting his creepy stare and single scream terrify Samwell behind his styrofoam rock. It’s unclear whether Mullan was playing the same White Walker from the big reveal to the dragonglass fight with Samwell. But given how they look a lot alike, and are played by the same actor, I like to think that the Walker got reamed out by upper management for letting Sam go the first time and volunteered for the Craster baby mission solely so he could get his revenge.
Mullan’s walker may have died at the hands of Samwell Tarly, but the actor was brought back to portray the walker who delivered the final male Craster baby to the Night King in season four. Given how much time that Walker spends on horseback, riding through the blinding snow while carrying a small baby, it seems like those five months in horseback training really did the trick! But mostly, I’m adding this tidbit solely so I can share this amazing photo with the world. You’re welcome, world.