With two episodes already in the books, the seventh season of Game of Thrones is breaking records for HBO; last week’s debut registered as the most-watched and most-Tweeted about program in the cable company’s history.
As showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are now responsible for material that has yet to be novelized by George R. R. Martin, the pace seems to have picked up, with King of the North Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Queen of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finally about to meet next week after six seasons of speculation.
While Harington and Clarke feature heavily in adverts for the show, there’s another ruler who may be even more prominent in GoT promotional material: The zombie-like Night King, leader of an undead army that is about march on Westeros.
And did you know the Night King is played by a performer who hails from the former Czechoslovakia?
While The Night King was played by British actor Richard Brake in seasons four and five of Game of Thrones (as pictured above), he was replaced in the role last season by Slovak actor and stuntman Vladimir “Furdo” Furdík, who has been performing stunts on the show since 2015.
In the season six episode The Door, Furdík even stars minus the makeup as a pre-zombified Night King in one of Bran Stark’s visions.
While the character has been referenced heavily in previous seasons of Game of Thrones, Furdík’s Night King is being billed as a primary figure this year. He even features on one of the season’s teaser posters:
Furdík is now a familiar face in the Hollywood stunt scene, where he has performed in movies like War Horse, John Carter, Snow White and the Huntsman, Skyfall, and Thor: The Dark World.
But he got his start in the burgeoning Eastern European film scene of the ‘90s and early 2000s, as Hollywood turned to former Soviet Bloc countries to take advantage of top industry talent and low costs.
He did stunts in Hollywood features like DragonHeart, The Peacemaker, and Behind Enemy Lines, which were all shot in Bratislava, and later in movie like Tristan + Isolde, Solomon Kane, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which were filmed in the Czech Republic.
Prior to his featured role on Game of Thrones, Furdík also had minor on-screen parts in productions like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and Prometheus, where he starred as one of the ineffective mercenaries hired to protect the titular ship.