Inside That Fiery Game of Thrones Scene with the Dothraki Leader Himself – Vanity Fair

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We all know that Game of Thrones keeps its secrets even from its own cast members, to the point that—if you believe the complex pack of lies that went into this season’s other gasp-inducing final scene —even Sophie Turner thought Jon Snow really was dead all the time. But when it came to episode 4’s fiery finale, there were some secrets that just couldn’t be kept—and that’s more because of the complexities of the Dothraki language than anything.

“I had to start learning my Dothraki right away, so we got those straight away,” says actor Joe Naufahu of the scene that ended Sunday’s episode, with Daenerys torching a group of Dothraki leaders and emerging unscathed. “We didn’t know how it was going to end, [but] you get the scene and it’s like there’s no way he’s going to survive saying this to khaleesi.”

His instincts were spot on. Naufahu played Khal Moro, the Dothraki leader who taunts Daenerys with a wide variety of threats (including what Naufahu charmingly calls “the c-bomb”) before she tips over a series of torches and burns him and his cronies in a Carrie-style inferno. Though he had plenty of time to perfect his Dothraki monologue, he and his co-stars didn’t know about the blaze until they arrived on the Vaes Dothrak set in southern Spain. Once filming began though, “It was full on.”

No Dothrakis were burned in the filming of this episode, but Naufahu and company did spend some time running from real flames, all accomplished via gas pipes that had to be painstakingly reset between each shot. “They had a full firefighting squad on set the whole time,” Naufahu explains. “It took so long just because of the health and safety.” It took several weeks to film that scene alone, which might explain the chummy Instagrams among Emilia Clarke and her khalasar that have emerged since filming. “It was the middle of the night, the breaks they would just come at weird times,” Naufahu remembers. “You’re kind of delirious at that time in the morning and you do crazy things.”

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), just before the torching begins.

Even though Khal Moro was never exactly a hero, taunting Daenerys from the moment he picked her up in the middle of that field, Naufahu relished the opportunity to play many layers of the guy he swears wasn’t truly evil. “He was a nice guy,” Naufahu insists. “He got pushed too far I think, and got embarrassed in front of his lads, that was his downfall.” And even though his big monologue happens entirely in Dothraki, there are enough threats and swears involved that he’s still a little worried about the reaction of his date to the season 6 premiere: his mother. “I’m going to hold the phone away from my ear when I ring,” he says. “She’ll probably be like, ‘You got what you deserved.’ ”

With his memorable stint on Game of Thrones over, the New Zealand-born Naufahu is getting a visa and planning to stay in Los Angeles to seek out more roles. He knew that a Dothraki was likely “the only role I could play” on Game of Thrones, but sees a lot of potential beyond Khal Moro. “It’s something that’s becoming more and more popular is the use of minorities in stronger roles, which is great for people like myself, who kind of have an ambiguous look and can work on accents and come from lots of different places.”

And if HBO has another show with a role perfect for a muscle-bound Kiwi, they should be remember that Naufahu was a very good employee who abided by all the N.D.A.s and no-spoiler rules. “I want to stay on HBO’s good side!” he says about keeping the secrets. “I want to be doing more of these shows.”


Inside That Fiery Game of Thrones Scene with the Dothraki Leader Himself – Vanity Fair