‘Game of Thrones’ Actors Actually Use a Safe Word While Shooting Fight Scenes—Any Guesses?

The end of Game of Thrones is nigh. But before then, we’re gearing up for the Battle of Winterfell, which is casually being touted as the largest fight scene in movie and TV history. So we couldn’t help but wonder: What goes into a filming and coordinating a Game of Thrones fight scene anyway? As it turns out, the word “banana” is a major component. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rowley Irlam, who has served as the Game of Thrones stunt coordinator since season five, pulled back the curtain and spilled the deets about fight scenes.

“It needs to look like a complete maniacal riot, but you have to make sure that no one gets so much as a chipped tooth or a sprained ankle,” Irlam explained. “We’re trying to make it look as dangerous as possible, but we also try to keep it as safe as possible.”

So how does he accomplish that? By introducing a safe word, of course. But, as Irlam explained, it’s not a Fifty Shades of Grey–type of safe word. It’s actually kind of funny.

Irlam revealed, “When we’re doing these battles and people are screaming and crying and dying, you might not know if anyone’s in trouble. So our safe word was always ‘banana.’ If someone started shouting ‘banana!’ at the top of their voice, you’d know they’re in trouble.”

Now, picture Jon Snow (Kit Harington) or Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) screaming banana while taking down a White Walker. Amazing, right?

The stunt coordinator went on to explain that Kirstofer Hivju, who plays Tormund, and Iain Glen, who plays Ser Jorah, are the most spirited fighters of the bunch. “Kristofer is very full-on, but in a very positive way. He’ll go, ‘Hey, Rowley, I’ve got this great idea. I think I’m gonna jump on this guy and kick this guy in the head!’ And you have to go, ‘No, no, Kristofer, we can’t do that,’” he laughed.

As for Jorah, Irlam says, “Iain Glen is a very serious actor, and he’s very physical,” so much so that the stunt people who work with him call the bruises they get from fighting with him a “Jorah badge of honor.”


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Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.