Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon recalls the worst day of his career, which came while filming one of the show’s most controversial scenes.
Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon recalls the worst day of his career while filming the hit HBO series, which came in the midst of season 5 during one of the show’s most controversial scenes. Rheon joined Game of Thrones in season 3 as the sadistic Ramsay Bolton, the one character who could give Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) a run for his money in the “most hated” department. For four seasons, Ramsay terrorized several fan favorite characters like Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), and viewers were delighted when he eventually met his end in season 6.
Over the years, Game of Thrones has been criticized for its tendency to put its female characters through the most horrendous of experiences. Star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau recently called out Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) season 1 storyline, which saw her get raped on her wedding night. Beyond that, Game of Thrones season 5 featured the extremely controversial moment when Ramsay rapes Sansa on their own wedding night, all while a traumatized Theon watches. The scene was widely panned by audiences, and it turns out Rheon didn’t particularly enjoy it either.
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In a new interview with Metro.co.uk, Rheon admitted the rape scene in the Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” was incredibly hard for him and everyone else on set to film. “That was horrible. Nobody wanted to be there. Nobody wants to do that, but if it’s telling a story then you have to tell it truthfully,” Rheon said. He went on to slightly commend how the show handled it by explaining, “They didn’t sensationalise it or anything,” though he concluded by calling that day “the worst day of my career.” Rheon then elaborated a bit more by saying this:
Chopping someone’s finger off you don’t really see it, and when you’re doing like a close up, it’s a piece of plastic. We’re just acting, it’s not real. Then something like that where you’re in the actual reality of the situation is very difficult to deal with. It was a horrible, horrible day. This is something that we shouldn’t even have to worry about, because it’s something that shouldn’t exist in this world but unfortunately it does.
In its eight-season run, Game of Thrones certainly never shied away from the torture and trauma its characters went through. The series earned a reputation for its jaw-dropping twists and refusal to hold back, and in some cases, that worked in its favor. However, when it came to Sansa’s assault and other moments later on in the show, this tactic fell flat. Game of Thrones‘ final season even attempted to paint Sansa’s rape as a positive thing by having her say it helped her grow up, but many fans didn’t appreciate that reframing.
Sansa’s season 5 arc originally felt like one of the few times Game of Thrones stumbled in its writing, but the final season blew that out of the water. Fans were largely disappointed by how the series came to an end, citing rushed storylines and abandoned character arcs. One bright spot, though, was Sansa’s ending, as she became the Queen in the North. While it certainly can’t make up for the dark spots in her story, it’s a comfort to know she at least ended up in a good place. There’s a good chance Rheon feels the same.
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