Bella Ramsey Loves a Good Battle Cry

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The young actor behind fan-favorite Lyanna Mormont chats about the epic Winterfell battle and what goes into taking down a wight giant.

HBO: How did reading the final scripts make you feel?

Bella Ramsey: I was buzzing. I think I did a mini battle cry! I was so excited to get going and full of gratitude to even be asked back. I didn’t expect it. So when I read Episode 3, I was shook. But in a good way.

HBO: Is there anything in particular you did to get into character?

Bella Ramsey: I clenched my fists and stamped the ground. It just made me feel confident and powerful, like Lyanna. If I had my armour on sometimes I’d bang it and I’d I say in my head “I am Lyanna Mormont. I am strong. I am brave. I am confident. I am powerful.” That helps in life as well.

HBO: How does Lyanna feel about Jon bending the knee to Daenerys — does she understand his decision? Does she still trust him?

Bella Ramsey: She’s angry he’s thrown away the title she helped him get without even hearing her out. I think if Jon had come back and been like, “Hey, Lyanna, there’s this cool dragon lady who I’m thinking I might bend the knee to… what d’ya think?” she’d have told him exactly what she thought, and he would have seen sense — in her eyes anyway. Lyanna understands why he did what he did, but doesn’t like it. Jon Snow lost her trust and respect, but she’ll always stand by him.

HBO: Lyanna and Jorah have a scene in Episode 2 where he tries to convince her not to fight — what was shooting that scene like?

Bella Ramsey: This scene was great to shoot — it was one of the only scenes I’m in where I have a private conversation with a character rather than a speech to a whole room. I’m happy I got that opportunity, especially with Iain [Glen, who plays Jorah] and John Bradley [who plays Samwell].

HBO: What was it like working with Iain Glen? What does Lyanna think of her relative Jorah?

Bella Ramsey: He’s a really good actor. Lyanna has never really known what family is. I think there’s always been a part of her behind the stern commanding badass that’s craved love. So when she meets Jorah she doesn’t know quite how to deal with it; she hardens herself from any emotional contact and struggles to let her guard down. But by the end of the scene, I think we remember that she is a human and we see her mellow a little bit. But only a little bit. This is Lyanna Mormont after all.

HBO: We didn’t get to see too much of how Lyanna spent the night before the battle, what do you imagine she did?

Bella Ramsey: Actually when we shot those scenes, I’d imagine what she’d just been doing. One of the things I saw in my mind was her looking out of a slot window and assessing everything, not in fear or stress but with collected thoughts — just observing.

If you’re going to die on Game of Thrones, at least die well.

HBO: Could you share what it was like shooting “The Long Night”?

Bella Ramsey: Intense is an understatement. There were weeks after weeks of night shoots in very cold weather. It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do, but I love a challenge so I’m not complaining. There were these massive wind machines, tons of fake snow falling, lots of battle cries, and a mass stampede of people. In fact the stunt coordinator, Rowley [Irlam], put stunt guys around me to make sure I didn’t get knocked over because if I did I could have easily had my head stamped on. It was thrilling, for me as an actor. I was completely immersed in it.

HBO: What went into your scene with the wight giant?

Bella Ramsey: When the massive wight giant knocks me down with his hand, I was in a harness with a rope attached. Then a stunt guy pulled on the rope and I went flying down onto a crashmat. That was so fun. Miguel [Sapochnik], the director, worked with me to get the next bit just right. We imagined that I’d broken ribs, damaged my leg and was massively winded. I had fake blood in my mouth to spit out as I got up to face the giant, clutching at my chest and sprinting towards him with a limp. And then the battle cry. That was the best bit. I had this song in my head which we sing at church quite often which goes, “There is victory in the end, your love is my battle cry... every giant will fall.”

One of the main green screen sequences was where I was being lifted up by the giant and his eye was this big green ball with bits of polystyrene that I had to stab the dragon-glass dagger into. Pretty surreal. I was in this claw machine which had a sequence of moves and lifted me up and shook me about a bit. And this was all in a studio. I’m very proud to say that I stabbed a wight giant in the eye, even if it was only polystyrene.

HBO: What do you think about that as your character’s ending?

Bella Ramsey: Love it. Absolutely love it. If you’re going to die on Game of Thrones, at least die well. That final scene took ages, lots of green screen, lots of long night shoots, but it’s all worth it. RIP Lyanna.

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