The scene in question depicts the model of the 43rd president’s severed head on a spike near the beginning of the genre show’s freshman-season finale in which King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) forces Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to look at the decapitated head of her father (Sean Bean). Bush’s head is not completely visible, but the bottom half of his face isn’t hard to recognize.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss acknowledged the likeness during the commentary feature on the show’s DVD box set, noting the decision to use the model was motivated by budget and not by politics. “George Bush’s head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It’s not a choice, it’s not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around,” they said in the commentary.
HBO and Benioff and Weiss issued a pair of statements late Wednesday apologizing for the incident.
“We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush,” Benioff and Weiss said. “In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”
Added HBO: “We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. We made this clear to the executive producers of the series, who apologized immediately for this inadvertent, careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.”
The Game of Thrones DVD box broke a sales record for HBO in its first week of release, selling 350,000 units — the biggest seven-day sum for a TV series in the history of the premium cable network that’s been the home of The Sopranos, True Blood, Six Feet Under and Sex and the City.
Watch the scene in question below, the offending model is at about the 1:10 mark.