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Director Miguel Sapochnik discusses his Emmy nominated episode; George R.R. Martin on the unexpected success of Game of Thrones

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The Emmys will be awarded next month, and Game of Thrones is well positioned to take home a considerable number of trophies with its historic 32 nominations. MiguelSapochnik has an excellent chance at winning in the Outstanding Directing category for “The Long Night,” having previously won in 2016 for “Battle of the Bastards.” In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sapochnik shares some of the behind the scenes work involved in bringing the battle of Winterfell to life.

In addition to enduring 55 grueling nights of shooting in adverse weather, Sapochnik admits he “questioned everything, and we worked long and hard to find the right balance of credibility versus wish fulfillment. Then we shot it and reshot it and found that what was really important was rhythm.”

He addresses the decision to have Arya leap from nowhere when attacking the Night King, saying, “At one point there was an elaborate plan to have her fight her way into the weirwood forest, but as we progressed we realized she’d already done that earlier in the episode, so it felt like a repeat. In the end we felt it didn’t matter how she got there — what mattered was setting up that moment when the Night King catches her mid-leap and we think she’s done for, then she pulls her knife switch and takes him out. I loved Maisie’s performance post the takedown as well, sharing a moment with her brother, Bran. That weary smile. ‘Not today.’”

Whether he takes home the Emmy or not, Sapochnik will forever be grateful for his experience working on Thrones. “It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime. I made a lot of friends. I worked with the best actors, crew, producers and showrunners I’ve ever worked with. I got to know the people of Northern Ireland and learned about their history. I had an experience that I would never have had otherwise, and I can take that with me to every project I do.” Here’s hoping he gets rewarded with a win for his incredibly hard work on “The Long Night.”

George R.R. Martin

Author George R.R. Martin is currently in Ireland for Worldcon, and while he didn’t address his progress on The Winds of Winter (shocking) he did speak to The Irish Timesabout the phenomenonal popularity of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the Game of Thrones television show. Martin admitted there is always an uncertainty about how well a project will be received. “You never know with either books or television. I had a book about 10 years before, The Armageddon Rag, a rock-and-roll book…It was going to be a bestseller, and it died totally. It almost destroyed my career.”

“It’s not a bad book – why did it sell so poorly? Why did Game of Thrones sell so well?…If people knew what would work, they would do it all the time.” He added that no one can anticipate what will succeed, saying, “[Game of Thrones] became the most popular television show in the world. When it started David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], the showrunners, I remember them saying, ‘Well, let’s hope we can get three seasons, so we can get to at least the Red Wedding. Obviously, we got more than that.”

Martin also explained that while popularity and success is nice, it’s not what’s most important to him. “When an actor finishes a play they come out for the curtain call and the applause. The check is not enough. I want to know what people think of it. Maybe they’re going to throw fruit, or maybe they’re going to give you a standing ovation. You never know, but you’ve got to get it out before people, right?”

Read the rest – including his thoughts on genre fiction and fandom – here.

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