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[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sunday’s Game of Thrones season finale, “The Children”]
Game of Thrones said goodbye to several key character’s in Sunday’s finale.
Shae’s (Sibel Kekilli) death was particularly painful to watch and was equally grueling to shoot — so much so that Kekilli says she and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) didn’t want to rehearse the scene too much ahead of time.
“You can’t rehearse stuff like the death scene too much because it was really emotional. If you rehearse too much, it makes it less powerful,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Here, Kekilli reveals when she first learned of her fate, what she and Dinklage discussed about the scene and why she’s worried about how fans will respond to her death scene.
When did you first learn Shae’s fate?
I knew she was definitely dying. There are so many superfans and spoilers out there — people would say, “You know what’s going to happen to your character?” I knew that it was not a happy ending. I actually thought I would die in the third season, so I was surprised I was still alive. I thought “oh, maybe she’ll be the queen!” (Laughs.) I asked Dan and David when I would die while we were shooting season three, and they told me “next season.”
What was the rehearsal for your final scene like?
You can’t rehearse stuff like the death scene too much because it was really emotional. If you rehearse too much, it makes it less powerful. He’s crying when he kills me, so I don’t think you can be that emotional when you rehearse. One day before we shot it, Dan, David, Peter and I had dinner. We talked a bit about the scene and enjoyed my last day there.
How long did the scene take to shoot?
It was a long scene, because we are fighting. When I see him I grab a knife, and I try to save myself to stay alive because I know that he is going to kill me. It was done step-by-step. There was a stunt coordinator, so it took a long time, plus that emotional scene at the end. They had to shoot one more scene after ours. It was an even longer day for Peter, because I think they shot the Tywin scene the same day.
What did you and Peter talk about beforehand?
We didn’t talk in our private time about our scripts, because we always had time to rehearse with the directors. When we were talking, it would be stuff like “how is your family” and “what have you been up to?”
We all know this is just a show, but it’s strangely comforting to know in real life you and Peter still get to see each other.
Yes, we are still able to see each other. After Thrones, he shot a movie here in Germany, so I saw him again in my hometown, in Hamburg. We went out to dinner. I also knew we were going to have a premiere in New York, and I would see him again there.
You had several huge scenes the season. Was this the toughest year for you?
The end of the second season, when she’s on his bed and they have won the battle but he has a scar on a his face — that was also really emotional and important for my character. But the most important scenes are the trial scenes because it shows how broken the characters are. It’s a world of not just black and white; there are gray areas.
Those scenes are not easy to shoot. I have to understand at this moment that even if the fans don’t understand Shae — or some of the fans don’t — I have to understand why she is acting like that after she was loyal and did everything for him. She really loved him. At the end, she’s angry, hurt and lost and maybe also blackmailed and forced into this by the Lannisters. But part of her thinks, “Tyrion, it’s your fault we are in this situation.”
In the end, do you consider Shae a victim?
Not a victim. For me, calling her a victim would mean she was weak. She was low-born. She had a hard life. She had to learn how to stay alive. She was a victim of the system maybe, of life circumstances, but she was also a really strong woman.
What motivated Shae near the end?
If Cersei wants something, she gets it. Shae is low-born. This is after Tyrion said, “Go away. You’re a whore.” She was thinking, “I’m again where I was before I met Tyrion. Once again I’m a prostitute. Again, I’m by myself, on my own. I have to take care of myself. I have to survive.”
What do you think fans will say about Shae’s fate?
The fans are so great — but they can be tough on Shae. They either say “I love Shae or I hate you,” whereas Tyrion is considered untouchable by the fans. Some fans might say Shae somehow deserved it because she’s in Tywin’s bed. But it’s a very emotional and complicated scene.
Did your friends and family know ahead of time you would be killed off?
No. They have been trying to bribe me. They ask me to know what’s going on, but I don’t tell — I don’t want to get killed by HBO. A few weeks ago, after the trial scene, a friend said, “I can’t believe what you did to Tyrion. Is he going to die? Please tell me! I can’t wait.”
What has Game of Thrones meant to you?
I can’t really explain it in words. It means a lot to me. It’s a long time to stay alive in this show — four years. To have most of my parts with Peter, I was really, really lucky. I got to see a lot of great actors — young actors — children, like Sophie (Turner). Seeing her grow up was very special.
People who are not at the show anymore kept telling me, “Sibel, please enjoy every second, because nothing can compare to HBO and Dan and David and George R.R. Martin.” Dan and David created such a wonderful show, and George R.R. Martin created amazing books. They gave me, a non-native English speaker, many chances. The first season, Jaime and I were the only ones who were not native speakers, and then I was given more and more and more. It was fantastic.
Stay tuned to THR.com/GoT for more from the finale, and read our Q&As with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and director Alex Graves.
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