By Katie M. Lucas
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane traveled a long road this season, journeying across the kingdoms with Arya Stark, while at the same time evolving from cold-blooded killer to Arya’s ally. HBO.com talked to Rory McCann about the Hound's brawl with Brienne, getting bitten, and teaching Arya only too well.
HBO: How much training did you have for the fight with Brienne?
Rory McCann: We rehearsed for about three weeks in Ireland in quite a small tent with sprung floors. They worked out literally every move of that fight. Alex Graves, the director, kept away until we had most of the forms down, and then he came in and tweaked a few things. He wanted the audience to not know who would win until the end.
Then we had to transpose the scene into a different environment. We got out to Iceland, and of course, the terrain was completely different. We were up high in the mountains with volcanic rock, and it was quite hot. We worked on the scene for about three days and were black and blue by the end of it.
HBO: Were the bruises a result of the fight’s physicality?
Rory McCann: It was more from falling on the rock around us. The armor we wear isn’t padded underneath. Both of us were very sore and bruised for weeks. It just couldn’t be helped.
HBO: What were you thinking when Brienne bites off the Hound’s ear?
Rory McCann: Why does everybody want to bite the Hound? I’m absolutely sick of it. The bite was payback though – I did kick Brienne between the legs. I feel like there were a lot of fans who were maybe “Team Hound” that switched to “Team Brienne” when I did that. That was literally below the belt.
HBO: That looked painfully real.
Rory McCann: The stunt team was desperate to get rid of the swords as soon as possible just to get really down and dirty. They came up to me and asked, “Are you alright, mate, about kicking her in the ‘foo foo’?” I know what a “foo foo” is now.
On the day of filming, they put a big belt between [Gwendoline Christie’s] knees so while she was crawling, I could take a right good run at her and my foot would just miss her.
HBO: It sounds like the choreography was incredibly detailed.
Rory McCann: I think it’s so instilled in our brains that if you gave us 20 minutes, we could actually do that fight again. We play pool together sometimes and I can imagine having the full-on fight with pool sticks for a laugh.
HBO: The fight stems from the Hound's need to protect Arya. What has the Hound come to feel for her?
Rory McCann: I think there was a transition. Before, the Hound saw Arya as kind of a meal ticket, a chance for survival and money. But by the end of it, he felt he was keeping her safe. There was a sort of father-daughter bond starting. Of course at the end, maybe the Hound taught her too well since she took his money and didn’t put him out of his misery.
HBO: How did the Hound feel about Arya walking away?
Rory McCann: He couldn’t believe it. She didn’t do the merciful thing. It's very disappointing.
HBO: Both of the Clegane brothers do serious battle this season.
Rory McCann: Yeah. I saw the clip of where Gregor pops Oberyn’s head like a bloody watermelon. That was brutal. That’s a Clegane for you.
HBO: What scene was most special to you?
Rory McCann: When I found out I was going to Iceland, I couldn’t believe it. Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] told me the year before, and I was just smiling. I used to live there and I hadn’t been back for years, so I just looked forward to all my scenes in Iceland.
My sense of accomplishment on that final fight was pretty cool. That was stuff I’ve just been dreaming of for years, and in my beloved Iceland as well. That was the special one.
HBO: If you were on trial, who would you want as your champion?
Rory McCann: Bronn. He’s fast and there’s a mutual respect.
HBO: What would you be on trial for?
Rory McCann: Stealing all the chickens.
HBO: You’re invited to a GOT wedding. Would you go?
Rory McCann: No. Avoid at all costs.
HBO: What would you name your sword?
Rory McCann: I don’t name my sword. Only c*nts name their sword.