Of all the gruesome surprises on the ninth episode of Game of Thrones this season, perhaps the most shocking was Catelyn killing an innocent child. Faced with Lord Walder Frey executing her son Robb, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) grabbed one of Frey’s young wives and held a knife to her throat. When Frey killed Robb anyway, Catelyn made good on her threat. Below Fairley talks about filming The Red Wedding and why she probably did not watch the episode tonight.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you recovered from the Red Wedding?
MICHELLE FAIRLEY: Yeah we did it, we shot it. We were very fortunate we had a week to shoot the whole wedding sequence and did it chronologically as well. By the end of the week you were getting nervous and you have to remain concentrated as well. But you have to remain because you have to do it right. You have to be in control, you have to be calm. You were just nervous, but in a good and productive way. It was amazing, actually.
At what point did you learn Catelyn’s fate?
I read the series so I knew what was coming and I also knew how many years I signed for. And it’s something that anyone who’s read the books will talk about it. So people take great delight in knowing what’s going to happen to you. There’s something incredibly dramatic and brutal about The Red Wedding, the shock of it. I met somebody who read it on the plane and they were so disgusted and heartbroken they left the book on the plane. It’s a challenge; it’s a life-or-death situation. For an actor to be given that part to play, you want to grab it and go straight into it. I loved it, absolutely. It was my favorite bit of filming in whole series. The intensity to detail — it was such a privilege to have David Nutter direct it, as well. He’s constantly pushing you and pulling you back. He knows what he wants to achieve and what he wants to get.
What was it like to shoot the scene?
By that point, you’ve been living it for three years. You know what drives this person, you have to watch her whole insides ripped to shreds by watching her son get murdered. The woman is just grief stricken, but she doesn’t lose control. She knows she’s dead, but in her mind she wants to be dead and wants to get revenge as well. Because of the way it’s filmed, as well, you felt incredibly static which is powerful — the fact she stays rooted to her spot. Her grief has to be expressed in some shape and form and it’s vocally and through the face.
Can you explain why Catelyn went through with killing Frey’s wife?
She comes from a very honorable family. Her whole life has been about honor and doing the right thing. In some way, she’s been held back by her sense of honor and duty. She’s constantly questioning her motives and actions. This is one where she doesn’t — “I’m not questioning this, I’m just doing it.” I think its incredibly liberating. There’s nothing left for her, she’s dead already, she wants it. She can’t go on. She wants retribution for her son’s death. It’s brave and it’s gutsy — “I don’t give a flying f–k what happens to me; I’ve lost all my children and my husband so what else do I have to live for?”
The producers said you didn’t return their call after shooting the scene?
It’s incredibly emotional. And Dan Weiss had left me a voice-mail and I did try to ring him back but by the end of the day I was a walking shell.
So what are your Sunday night viewing plans?
I don’t think I could watch it. I really don’t think I could. I want to, but I don’t think I can. I might watch it one day.
RED WEDDING FULL COVERAGE
– ‘Game of Thrones’ The Red Wedding recap
— ‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners talk The Red Wedding
— Robb Stark shocker: ‘Game of Thrones’ actor talks heart-breaking twist
— George R.R. Martin must-read interview! Game of Thrones author on why he wrote The Red Wedding
— Michelle Fairley interview: Why Catelyn made her shocking decision
— See EW’s Red Wedding invitation