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The Khal is dead. Long live the Khaleesi.
In the latest episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) pulled an old trick out of the playbook and walked into a great conflagration — only this time, she didn’t emerge with dragons. Instead, she emerged with an army, standing before the Dothraki people as their new leader, unburnt and unbroken by the oppressive barbarians she just roasted alive.
Where Daenerys rises like a phoenix out of the ashes, Khal Moro (Joe Naufahu) crumbles into dust, his reign over the Dothraki and his time on Game of Thrones over before either one really ever started. Heading into the season, Naufahu knew his ride as Moro would be a short one, albeit an arc that would fuel the fires of Dany’s story moving forward.
“I knew there was still a lot of juice in the season ahead, and I was just trying to get the most out of those scenes, in those couple of episodes,” Naufahu told The Hollywood Reporter about his brief time on the Emmy-winning fantasy series. “It was good while it lasted.”
Here’s Naufahu’s full take on playing out Moro’s final moments, why he believes the Khal would have followed Daenerys‘ lead given the chance and his take on the “Brothraki Code.”
The Game of Thrones death scene is usually a memorable one, and Khal Moro was no exception.
It’s a pretty epic one! (Laughs.) And I think the twist on it was death by fire, but not by the dragons, you know? I think most people probably aren’t expecting that.
Right. There might have been an expectation that Moro would die in battle against Jorah (Iain Glen) or Daario (Michiel Huisman) …
Right. But it’s Daenerys. It’s pretty wicked. It gives her a lot of power.
What went into shooting your final scene?
It took us about two weeks to shoot that. Not full shooting weeks, but we had to shoot it over two weeks, just because of the setting up of the pyrotechnics, and because there’s so many players in the scene. We had to have a break in between shoots because they needed to go and get some other stuff shot. But it was awesome. There’s magic in that scene.
It’s fueled not just by fire, but by two characters who both believe they have the other one’s number — and only one of them is right.
Yeah. I think there was a point where Khal Moro was trying to keep her safe, or what he thought was safe. He thought he was protecting her. I think when she flipped and wanted to do things her way, he tried to stand up to her. She obviously had all the power when she couldn’t get burned, but definitely, there was a big power struggle between them in that room.
Khal Moro gets one last look at Dany before the flames come his way. What do you imagine he’s thinking in his final moment of life?
I think for him, he’s meeting his maker. He’s preparing to admit defeat, and accepting the final hurrah and not being a coward to it. He’s getting face to face with it. In my mind, of course, I was trying to play it as gaining some respect for Daenerys as well.
It’s always an event when the “fire and blood” side of Daenerys comes out — literal fire in this case. What’s it like to engage Emilia Clarke in a scene like this?
It’s awesome, man. It’s like playing a footy game. You’re going toe to toe. You’re feeding off of each other’s energy. Especially in a scene like this where there’s literally fire involved in the scene. It turns the whole thing up a notch. It’s really like being involved in a very good sports match. Your adrenaline’s up. You’re trying to get the feeling and emotion into the lines. You’re giving it everything.
Although Moro didn’t last long, he and his bloodriders left an impression, with a lot of fans online referring to them as the “Brothraki.”
Yeah, that’s pretty cool. (Laughs.) I saw one person mention that Khal Moro respects “the bro code.” It’s pretty awesome.
Perhaps “The Bro Code” will be published in Dothraki soon.
I reckon it should be! (Laughs.) They need to now.
We know Khal Moro’s answer to this question, but for you, what are the five best things in life?
The first three are made up of people in my family. My two little ones and my mom. I guess the others … really, it’s all people. Those are the things that are important to me in my life.
There’s a lot involved in transforming into a Dothraki …
Yeah, you wear hair extensions and a full wig. You have to grow your hair to a decent length to fit them. Every Khal has wig and beard fittings, with extensions sewn into the beard as well.
What was involved in discarding the Dothraki garb for the final time? What went through your mind as you physically removed yourself from Khal Moro?
Even when you take the uniform off, he stays with you. It’s like any character; they stay with you in some way, shape or form. The preparation you put into the work. There’s always a piece of that character that stays within you.
So a part of you will always have been burned alive by Daenerys Targaryen?
Yeah! That’s the truth of it.
When the dust is settled and the ash is clear, what’s the final word on Khal Moro?
He’s misunderstood! I wish he had just listened when Daenerys said, “Shut up and sit down. You think you’re going to get me? I’m going to get you.” I think maybe he would have followed her.
Really? You think Moro would have bent the knee?
Hell yeah. (Laughs.) All she had to do was demonstrate that she can’t be burned. “Look at this! This is what’s going to happen to you if you put this place on fire. Now what are you going to do?” I guess that’s Daenerys though. No mercy.
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