UPROXX @ SXSW: What It's Like To Climb The Wall From 'Game Of Thrones' With DJ Hodor

Senior Pop Culture Editor


Either Maisie Williams is the greatest actress of all-time, or she was legitimately terrified. Williams, who plays diminutive badass Arya on HBO’s Game of Thrones, was trapped inside a TARDIS-looking box on Friday night in front of a crowd of spectators. She clutched the rails that separated her from us, holding onto dear life while “climbing the Wall,” the one thing her bastard brother Jon Snow knows something about. Her screams filled the entire Austin Music Hall during SXSW, from wall to (the) Wall. I wish I could say I handled the situation with more machismo than Williams, being a manly man and all, but NOPE. That sh*t’s terrifying.

One of SXSW’s big gets this year is the Game of Thrones Exhibit, featuring the “Ascend the Wall” scenario.

The attraction, called “Ascend the Wall,” provides a virtual reality visit to that huge, menacing structure that protects the Seven Kingdoms from wildlings and those creepy ghost-zombie creatures…HBO teamed with Relevent to create the virtual reality experience using Oculus Rift technology. (Via)

In less nerdy-nerd speak, it basically means you step into a box, put on face-visors and headphones, and enter Castle Black (OK, that’s no less nerdy-nerd). The simulation, which was put together by the same group that worked on Gravity (incidentally, you lose your breath the same way you do while watching that movie), begins on a rickety, wooden elevator that eventually takes you to the top of the Wall. But before you get there, you’re allowed to admire the snowy landscape around you, taking in the endless mountain terrains and oh yeah, get freaked out that if you look down, you can’t see your hands. That’s what most threw me off — well, that, and once you reach your destination, you’re forced to walk (“walk”; your physical body stays in place) to the verge of the Wall. I’m not afraid of heights, but I’ve also never stood 700 feet in the air on a sort-of wooden diving board. Also affecting you: that you look like a total weirdo to people not in Westeros.

Look at that jerk (me). Anyway, when you’re standing on the edge of terror itself, with the wind in the TARDIS blowing in your jerk face, giant fireballs are fired in your general direction, and then you fall off the Wall and die. Yay! It’s fun in the same way the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios is fun to five year olds: you might poop your pants, but you’ll also want to do it again. You wouldn’t want to disappoint DJ Hodor.

To her credit, Williams screamed her brains out one more time, with the massive Kristian Nairn (Hodor) on one side and the equally tall, though far more gorgeous Gwendoline Christie (Brienne) on the other.

For 90 seconds, you feel like you’re in George R.R. Martin’s world, and for 90 minutes, you’re really glad you don’t actually live in George R.R. Martin’s world. Anyway, here are a few more photos from the exhibit:

Dragon head.

Direwolf head.

Arya and the Hound’s ragged threads.

Unfortunately, Margaery’s ice cream cone dress wasn’t on display.

No wonder they shared that epic kiss — getting up the Wall is tough, even when you’re in a phone booth.

All photos via Nadia Chaudhury

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