This article contains spoilers for Season 8, Episode 3 of “Game of Thrones.”
Of all the mini-battles within the great big battle on Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” the most David-and-Goliath-like was the one between 5-foot-tall Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and a towering zombie giant (Ian Whyte). Little Lyanna — the spunky head of House Mormont — stood no real chance, but she went out on a rousing note, stabbing the wight in the eye with dragonglass and thereby saving countless compatriots.
In a phone interview Monday, we spoke with the 15-year-old actress about the Battle of Winterfell and what it was like to go down fighting. Following are edited excerpts.
Q: What was your reaction to the episode, and seeing your own magnificent death scene?
A: It was so intense! The tension of it all, your heart is just pounding. It was insane. It was amazing. I really love Arya’s bit, of course. What’s not to love, really? It’s empowering.
Q: Were you expecting to die?
A: I wasn’t expecting to even come back for Season 8, so the fact that I got to come back and die, and with the death I got, it was insane. I’m very, very grateful for that. I was shocked, in a good way.
Q: What kind of direction did Miguel Sapochnik give you for your fight scene?
A: We talked about how it was like someone had removed Lyanna’s fear gene. Like fear wasn’t even an option for her. Even though she’s being faced with possibly the most terrifying thing of her life, she’s not fazed by it. She knows what she has to do. She could have easily stayed on the floor, but she didn’t. She didn’t want to do that. She wanted to make a difference.
Q: It looked quite painful.
A: Oh, yes. When you watch it back, you can hear him crushing her ribs. But I think her adrenaline got her through it. She was in a lot of pain, but at that moment, her aim was to kill the giant. The way I thought about it, she was taking her last breath to do this. It was her final moment before he squeezed her to death.
Q: The behind-the-scenes footage suggested that you didn’t really get to interact with Ian Whyte, who played the giant. That you were held up by a clawlike crane?
A: Yeah, I was in a massive claw machine. The machine was like a robot, I guess. It had a series of moves, to shake me about and make it look like I was being lifted up by a giant. That was really cool. The dragonglass dagger, I had to stick it into this green polystyrene plastic ball, which would be the giant’s eye, and it was quite funny, because the dagger was quite floppy! (Laughs) Sometimes it just fell on the floor, and then we’d have to pick it up again. The polystyrene ball, too, had these little squares cut out, and I had to get it in between the squares, so it was quite technical, actually. But we got it there in the end. Ian and I didn’t interact, but I did meet him. He was very, very, very tall. I never felt that small in my whole life.
Q: Tormund Giantsbane told a story in the previous episode about how he got his nickname. If she had lived, Lyanna Mormont could have been Lyanna Giantsbane.
A: Or Lyanna Giantslayer! That would be cool. I feel like if she had another life, she’d come back as a giant. Why not?
Q: Well, it looked like she got to come back as a wight, at least for a moment. What was that like for you?
A: Oh, that was fun! But the contacts hurt a bit, because of the restricted views. That was a very strange experience. I had to lie on the floor for like four hours, shivering, because the floor was really cold. And I obviously had to be dead, so I couldn’t even twitch. But it was amazing. I never got to actually get up and fight as a wight, though. I just opened my eyes. And to shoot that, I had to open my eyes a lot, at all these different speeds. Slowly open. Slap them open. You wouldn’t believe all the time we spent shooting just me opening my eyes. It took a while, because they didn’t really know what they wanted to do.
Q: With the deaths of both Lyanna and Jorah, House Mormont is now extinct. But at least they got to make peace with each other before the battle.
A: Yeah, you saw a very rare thing for Lyanna, which is warmth. Usually she’s very cold, very blunt. But we saw a bit behind the tough mask. It’s not really a mask. She’s really a tough person. But she’s warm in that moment.
Q: People love how she isn’t afraid of being blunt, of telling people the truth.
A: There have been so many great things on the internet! I love it when people use her death stare on the horse. That’s one of my favorite ones. It’s surreal, really. Yeah, Lyanna’s courage and confidence is astounding. She isn’t afraid of telling people the truth, even when it’s a harsh reality sometimes. She knows that people need to know where they stand.
Q: If she had gotten a chance to talk to Cersei, what do you think she would say?
A: Oh, yes! They would have a bit of a standoff. And if Lyanna had a dragon, she might have taken her down. No, wait. I think she would actually make Cersei feel ashamed for what she’s done. Lyanna would have to tell her how she felt. She would tell her the truth. It would have been cool. And now she can’t. But that’s the beauty of the internet, isn’t it? If you’re feeling like you need a little dose of Lyanna in your day, you can YouTube her.