The Night King has been painted as the main villain in Game of Thrones (whether he is actually the antagonist or the protagonist is for up to you to decide). However, did you know that the Night King wasn’t actually in George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire books (There is a “Night’s King” in the novels but not a “Night King”)?
The addition of the Night King adds some interesting possibilities for the showrunners of the Game of Thrones TV show. With the final season of Game of Thrones looming, David Benioff and Dan Weiss revealed the origins of the Army of the Dead commander, one of the most critical characters of heading into Season 8.
The leader of the White Walkers was created by Children of the Forest thousands of years before the current Game of Thrones timeline. The Children of the Forest were besieged by the First Men, so they created this icy, dark force to eliminate their new enemies. The Children of the Forest captured one of the First Men invaders, tied him to a tree, and plunged a slab of dragonglass into his heart, immediately transforming him into icy, blue-eyed devil.
The Night King then raised the Army of the Dead and eventually turned on their creators. After a brutal years-long war, the Night King was banished to the Lands of Always Winter. The Long Night ended and the magical Wall was created to contain the Night King and his White Walkers.
The supreme leader of the Army of the Dead was originally introduced on the HBO TV series in Episode 2 of Season 4, “The Lion and the Rose.” The Night King was originally played by actor Richard Brake, but has been played by Vladimir Furdik since 2016. Bran Stark has had visions of the Night King a couple of times and it appears that the White Walker leader is out to get the new Three-Eyed Raven.
Entertainment Weekly interviewed Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and asked about the origin of the Night King.
“It was almost logical as you went back in time, as you create the prehistory for all this,” Weiss explained. “We’ve seen what the White Walkers do, we’ve seen how they perpetuate themselves and created the wights.”
“If you’re going backwards, well, they made these things. So what made them? We always liked the implication that they weren’t some kind of cosmic evil that had been around since the beginning to time but that the White Walkers had a history, that something that seems legendary and mythological and permanent wasn’t,” Weiss said. “They had a historical cause that was comprehensible like the way the wars on screen we’re seeing unfold are comprehensible. They’re the result of people, or beings, with motivations we can understand.”
“And once you go back into that flashback scene, that required a person there — and that was Vlad, who for a long time was our best stuntman,” Benioff said of actor Vladimir Furdik. “I don’t think of him as evil, I think of him as Death. And that’s what he wants — for all of us. It’s why he was created and that’s what he’s after.”
Furdik gave his opinion on the Night King’s motivation for the final Game of Thrones season. “He never wanted to be the Night King. I think he wants revenge,” the Slovakian actor told EW a few weeks ago. “People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is. There’s also that moment [in “Hardhome”] when Jon Snow was on the boat and the Night King looked at him and raised his arms — there’s a similar and even stronger moment between Jon and the Night King this time.”
The GoT showrunners were also asked another very important question: Why doesn’t the Night King ever talk? Benioff has a very simple, yet reasonable reason for the Night King’s lack of conversation. “What’s he going to say?” Benioff asks. “Anything the Night King says diminishes him.”
The Night King has said more with his hands than any GoT character has said with their lips.
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Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 14th, where the Night King, his zombie ice dragon and Army of Dead will begin their military campaign of death south of The Wall.