We sat down with Tommy Dunne to learn how he has designed and created all of the weapons for all eight seasons of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” From dragonglass daggers to bows and arrows, he’s had a hand in it all. Following is a transcript of the video.
Tommy Dunne: My name’s Tommy Dunne and I’m the weapons master on HBO “Game of Thrones.” Everyone tells me it’s the coolest job in the world and I say it’s the one with the biggest headache. But no, it’s cool, it’s mainly down to myself, what the look and design is and the feel of all the weaponry. And again, I never look and never chase up the image that George had in his books, because I didn’t want to be persuaded by his feel or his interpretation, I like my feel of it and my interpretation of what it is.
Emma Fierberg: How did you make Beric Dondarrion’s flaming sword?
Dunne: That’s a combination between ourselves and the special effects team, because obviously I made and designed the original one, which was quite a basic sword, nothing fancy about it, the Beric one, but then obviously the special effects team had to come up with a procedure of lighting it, so they made an internal gas system into a hollow sword and then we just supplied all the crossguards on with the handpiece, so they would make a gas rig and they would make a, basically a sword that was impregnated with a lighting liquid, that could be lit by flame, so it would keep alight for, about half a minute and I think it was simple enough, the physical one that they fought with, but the gas one was a bit intricate. To ignite it and to turn it off, but the effects did a very, very good job, good lads.
The Oathkeeper was the tricky one. Making sure it looked like what it was, using jewels like Swarovski crystals.
Needle was a nice one because it was one of those things where obviously, she’s a very young girl. At that stage I think Maisie was only like 12, 13. And she was a very petite girl. So we know that the weapon would have to be some sort of file or that kind of scenario where being a needle, it was exactly what the name said. It looks like a needle. It’s quite a natural small little sword. And it hasn’t changed, the holder hasn’t changed. It’s all as is, obviously she’s grown up, not a lot but she’s grown up. So the sword has kept with her, it’s the same. We’ve never had to play with it. Actually she’s always been good with it, considering how she fights. She fights left-handed but she’s actually right-handed.
They’re dangerous enough at the same time, I mean, the hero ones for example, will be a tougher weld with the steel blades. We’d never fight with them but we’d always have them for the hero feel, the hero look. We always then make an aluminium version of the blade. We’ll make a bamboo version and we’ll make a rubber version. So we have all the components that will be safe. So anybody who fights will be bamboo on bamboo, will be rubber on rubber, will be aluminium on aluminium and we never mix and match the different blades.
There are so many different looks and styles that are brought into the tales. Absolute probably, 10,000, 15,000 different types, depending on what the weapon would be. If it’s a principal weapon, you’d have a couple of hero ones. You’d have four or five fighting swords. And again six or eight safety swords. So we make sure everybody’s a bit safe on set. Fight or if you have to ride horses that’s when we have rubber scabbards, rubber swords so everybody walks away.
Some of our actors are very strong, so what happens is that they just keep hammering and hammering so hard. They suddenly realise when they have bamboo, that they can move faster. And with some of our training regimes for example, we had Pod and Brienne fighting. That’s a scenario where we had to make sure that there was a bit of bamboo to try and slow down and take the power away from Brienne. Especially that Gwendoline is a strong girl and puts a lot of power into it. So we just had to try and find a way of pulling that power back a little bit. The problem with an aluminium sword or even a wooden sword is that’s really gonna hit hard onto another sword. But when you’re fighting with a bamboo, you’ll find that less is more with them. So it actually does slow them down a bit with the power.
Fierberg: I would imagine maybe in the Battle of the Bastards, there’s a bamboo sword in there somewhere.
Dunne: There’s a battlefield of swords in that one. A lot of rubber, there’s none in that one. It will be the best season ever. Nothing would surpass this.
Fierberg: I woke my deaf grandmother screaming at the television. So if it’s going to be better than that. I’m really excited.
Dunne: I think you’ll wake up a few ancestors this year, next year when it next comes out, not only your granny.
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