On the set of ‘Game of Thrones’

EL PAÍS joins the cast and crew of the hit HBO show on location in Seville

Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau during the Seville shoot on Thursday.
Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau during the Seville shoot on Thursday.Canal Plus

“Action!” There is absolute silence: no one moves a muscle in the Ambassadors Hall at Seville’s Real Alcázar palace. A strong smell of incense envelops the actors and the almost 30 people around them – not including a small group of journalists also attending the shoot.

Underneath an impressive dome, actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau begins his scene. His character Jaime Lannister is in the kingdom of Dorne. The gathered reporters have already been warned not to recount anything about what is happening, or which characters appear in the scene. What’s more, this is the ninth episode of the fifth season, and, as Game of Thrones fans know, the ninth episodes are always special.

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Directing the scene in Seville on Thursday is David Nutter, the same man who was in charge of the by-now infamous The Rains of Castamere episode, which left fans open-mouthed at its conclusion. Via three small screens he watches what the cameras are recording with acute attention. Everyone on set is completely still, not daring to make a move. They’re immersed in one of the biggest productions of this current golden age of television, and no one wants to be an accidental star.

A bit further away creators, scriptwriters and showrunners David Benioff and Daniel B. Weiss are also watching the action on a series of monitors. Two minutes later, the cry of “Cut!” rings out and everyone can breathe again. The crew rushes in to check the set, measure distances and take light readings, and start all over again.

A clapperboard on set.
A clapperboard on set.Canal Plus

Before heading into the Ambassadors Hall, the actors relax in the patio. Jaime Lannister is chatting with the scriptwriters while trying to cope with the Seville sun, his costume, no doubt, not helping with the heat. Some of the Spanish extras are also present, waiting to take part in a shoot that has been running here from October 10 to October 17, and will now move on to nearby Osuna. The days are very long, with eight hours of shooting sometimes only producing four minutes of screen time.

Despite the recent rain, the shooting schedule for the hit HBO show, which is broadcast in Spain on Canal+, has yet to suffer any delays – apart from on Wednesday, that is, as Peter Welter, from Fresco Film Services, the production company for the shoot here in Spain, explains. “As the weather forecast was very bad, we divided up the shoot into three teams so we could continue,” he explains.

We are used to filming in Northern Ireland, so a bit of rain doesn’t stop us”

Seville has been chosen to represent the kingdom of Dorne – a land in the south of the world depicted in the George R. R. Martin books upon which the series is based. But the producers have traveled to Spain only to find rain and cloud, something that, they explain, will be sorted out in post-production. “We are used to filming in Northern Ireland,” explains Daniel B. Weiss. “So a bit of rain doesn’t stop us.”

Thursday also saw a visit by several Spanish officials. Accompanied by US ambassador to Spain, James Costos, Andalusia regional premier Susana Díaz stopped by the set, as did Seville Mayor Juan Ignacio Zoido, among others. A few of the officials took the opportunity to take “selfies” with members of the cast, which later appeared on the social networks.

Don’t even think about saying you’ve seen me! It would be a spoiler!”

But before getting here, the reporters spot another one of the series’ actors enjoying the Seville sun and a snack. They say hello, and he responds by waving them away with his hands and smiling. “Don’t even think about saying who it is, you haven’t seen him!” he shouts. “No one knows that this character is in this scene – it would be a spoiler!”

We’ll just have to wait until the beginning of April to find out what is happening with the Lannisters, Starks and Baratheons. Until then, the latest secrets of Game of Thrones will remain guarded by the ancient walls of the Alcázar.


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