Game of Thrones is a show known for its political intrigue, high-stakes action, and CGI dragons, but it turns out, the most difficult thing about acting in the hit HBO series might be learning the language of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world.
Creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff sat down with Jimmy Kimmel last night to talk about the final season of the show. The two men started off by regaling Kimmel with tales of their first meeting Martin, who quizzed them about Jon Snow’s parentage with butter in his beard, and fielded theories about how the series will end. But the most surprising part of the interview came when Kimmel brought up the show’s extensive collection of made-up languages, and the creators let slip who amongst the cast had a knack for speaking them.
If you’re a fan of the series, you know there’s plenty of gibberish being spoken at any given time. From Dothraki to High Valyrian, some of the cast have had to become fluent in made-up languages to bring their characters to life on screen. David Peterson, the man responsible for creating the languages on the show, told the two men that only one cast member could pass as a native speaker of High Valyrian, and it’s not the Mother of Dragons.
“Emilia is very good, cause she has to do reams of it,” Weiss told Kimmel. “But David says that Jacob Anderson, who plays Grey Worm, is like a native speaker of Valyrian. It’s a real language that only David understands and David says that Jacob speaks it better than anyone.”
Makes sense considering Greyworm’s position as commander of the Unsullied means Anderson is often shouting orders in the made-up tongue.
He certainly was during last week’s Battle of Winterfell where he led his troops into battle against a horde of undead soldiers. The cast has been frank about how grueling and downright miserable shooting that episode was, and for Anderson, who spent 55 days out in the muck, fighting ice-zombies in full body armor, filming sounded especially rough. It’s good to have that background for the story Weiss tells later in the interview about Anderson’s odd improvisation skills.
Deliriously tired after all the night-shoots, when director Miguel Sapochnik tasked Anderson with shouting some words in Valyrian the actor could only think of one name. “Jacob was so tired and so delirious and so out of it that all he could think to yell was, ‘Mike Pence! Mike Pence! Mike Pence!’” Weiss said.
Sadly, the show dubbed over his moment of genius, so don’t go re-watching the episode hoping to hear how the VP’s name sounds in a made-up language.