Richard Dormer Shares What It's Really Like to Fight With Beric's Flaming Sword

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The actor discusses the Brotherhood Without Banners leader’s friendships and regrets, and what it’s like to fight with an eyepatch.

HBO: Beric is finally in the North. Does he ever second-guess the decisions he’s made to get to this point?  

Richard Dormer: No. I think he realizes there are sacrifices to be made for every great purpose, and every soldier has to go make those calls. You can’t dwell on mistakes. You’ve just got to look forward and think of your fellow comrades. When he hears about the armies that are gathering in the north, of the dead, he realizes that’s where he’s got to go. He knows what death is and he’s one of the men to hold it back, to try to defeat it.

I think his one regret is he’s only half the man he used to be; he’s lost so much of himself.

HBO: What does Beric’s faith mean to him?

Richard Dormer: It gives him hope, because he’s lost so much. He’s awed and very humbled by this force that is able to bring him back. He needs something to believe in, and the Lord of Light is just the ticket. It’s also proven to be real ‒ otherwise how does he come back from the dead? It’s not blind faith. This power is real.

HBO: Does he feel a special kinship to Jon?

Richard Dormer: Yes, he sees a connection. The only power that can resurrect is the Lord of Light; he realizes Jon has a special purpose, because he also has been kept alive. Beric’s thinking, “I better look out for this guy, because he has a big role to play in this war.”

HBO: What does Beric really think of the Hound?

Richard Dormer: He actually, begrudgingly, is very fond of the Hound. They have a respect for one another. The Hound knows Beric can handle himself with a sword, but he also knows Beric used to be bit of a show-off, back in the tournament days. Beric used to be very “flash.” He was young and handsome, and all the ladies loved him. I think he may have been a bit full of himself, perhaps. But now, he’s become humbled and prematurely old, and so has the Hound.

Beric enjoys the windups, and that the Hound keeps cutting him off mid-sentence. He’s just like the grumpy, old dog in the corner; you can’t help but love him. The other thing is, Beric is a good judge of character, and I think he can see in the Hound the goodness that wants to come out. He can see a broken man who wants to redeem himself.

HBO: What was filming the polar bear sequence like?

Richard Dormer: It was very cold, wet and physical. Hot as well, running around imagining a 12-foot flaming polar bear. It’s pretty weird, but it was fun.

HBO: Is it challenging working with your weapon? Is it actually on fire during filming?

Richard Dormer: Yes, the flaming sword is real. It only burns for two minutes at a time, and you can’t swing it too quickly, so you have to slow down your moves, which is actually quite tiring. It weighs about three times as much as a normal sword. It’s a pretty impressive weapon.

HBO: How difficult is fighting while wearing an eyepatch?

Richard Dormer: It’s really, incredibly difficult. Even just running. You don’t have any depth perception, so it’s hard to judge distances. Also when the sword lights up, you get a bit blinded every time it crosses your field of vision. So those fight sequences have to be really well rehearsed.  When I’m filming, I always walk around with one eye closed to get confident with that; I’ve got used to it.

HBO: Does the eyepatch help you transform into character?

Richard Dormer: It does. It says something about his personality as well: he’s lost so much, but even when he’s ragged, broken and covered in scars, he still has some dignity that he wants to cover up his horrible wound to his eye. I think it says a lot about him that he still has that self-respect.

HBO: Is it emotional for Beric to lose Thoros?

Richard Dormer: It was heartbreaking to lose his last, oldest friend he had. Thoros connected him to his past life, before he formed the Brotherhood Without Banners, so losing him really touches Beric very deeply; it leaves him very empty.

HBO: What does it mean for him to realize he’s on his final life?

Richard Dormer: I think he’s relieved, in a sense. He knows now that he’s mortal, and that this last life has to count for something. He’s relieved it’ll finally be over.

HBO: Did you do any stunt-work during the frozen lake scene?

Richard Dormer: I did all of my own stunts, except for at the end during the fight at the edge of the cliff. I was too close to the edge, and I only had one eye, and I was swinging around a flaming sword with no visibility at all. Everything else was me and the boys for five weeks.

HBO: What was the atmosphere on set like?

Richard Dormer: It was really exciting. They’re all a lovely bunch of guys. There was a lot of camaraderie and humor. There was about five of us out the seven who played an instrument, so we also formed a little band with ukulele and guitars called the Brotherhood Without Banjos. We would entertain ourselves, making little tunes. We’re ready to go on world tour.

HBO: Beric says he’s not fighting for any specific house at this point, but do you think this experience might give him some sort of allegiance to Jon or Daenerys?

Richard Dormer: I think so. Certainly to Jon, because the Lord of Light connection, but also because Beric sees how brave and selfless Jon is. He sees in Jon a great king — and I think he believes the Lord of Light sees that as well.

HBO: Is there any character you’d like to see Beric reunite with from seasons past?

Richard Dormer: The Mountain. Because even after all these years, he’s still carrying Ned Stark’s command to find and bring the Mountain to justice; so I think he would like to have a go at the Mountain and fulfill his promise.

 

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