SEASON 4 PREMIERES TONIGHT
TORONTO - With the tagline “All men must die,” the brutal TV saga Game of Thrones has pretty much become synonymous with gut-wrenching violence and bloody massacre.
But there are limits to how far the show will go, says its Canuck director of photography, Rob McLachlan.
Wary of revealing spoilers, he says grisly moments in an upcoming episode he shot with Vancouver-bred director Michelle MacLaren actually had to be dialled back.
“We really took it a long way and luckily they toned it down from what we shot because we both would have gotten into some hot water, I think, if it went out with everything we did for it,” McLachlan said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles.
“It was pretty violent and pretty disgusting. That’s all I can really say.”
And that’s saying a lot from the guy who also worked on last season’s infamous “red wedding” episode, which — spoiler alert — ended in a bloodbath that claimed the lives of several central characters.
McLachlan said their take on the new season prompted the show’s co-creator David Benioff to dub him and MacLaren his “demented Canadian duo.”
“I said, ‘I’m not sure what to make of that,’ but I’m assuming that’s a compliment,” chuckled McLachlan, who was born in San Francisco but raised in Vancouver.
The moniker is well-earned, based on each of their TV resumés.
In addition to directing season three’s Second Sons and The Bear and the Maiden Fair, MacLaren’s standout credits include the third-season Breaking Bad episode One Minute — in which two cartel hitmen stage a heart-stopping attack on DEA agent Hank Schrader that plays out in real time.
McLachlan said MacLaren’s no-holds-barred approach works well on Game of Thrones.
“Her work on ‘Breaking Bad’ sort of spoke for itself,” he said.
“I was really excited to work with her because I thought she’d just done some of the most extraordinary episodes on ‘Breaking Bad’ and she’s also got an amazing sense of humour and is just a really delightful, charming person to work with.”
McLachlan said the savage war that dominated last season has petered out as the fourth season debuts Sunday, allowing other stories greater screen time.
“Our episodes had much more intimate stuff and that was really nice to do because you could really get in and focus on the characters, both good and evil,” he said, referring to episodes four and five.
Still, the 58-year-old insists they found a way to keep things suitably dreadful, even though higher-ups dampened their darker impulses in that one sequence.
“We definitely pushed the envelope a bit,” says McLachlan, whose other credits include TMN/Movie Central’s Ray Donovan,”the defunct cop drama The Commish and the 2007 feature film The Golden Compass.
“I’m not saying people aren’t going to be disturbed by the scene.”
He said the fourth season “has much more scope” and features some new sets.
“Definitely there’s a very strong desire on the producers’ part to keep everything fresh and to keep moving into new spaces and not keep revisiting the same Irish meadow, or what have you.”
And McLachlan is already thinking ahead to the fifth season, which he begins shooting in August in Ireland. He’s been tapped to work on episodes nine and two, and says they are already being billed as two of the “biggest episodes.”
Need a refresher on season 3 of the Game of Thrones? Check ou the Idiot's Guide from Screen Junkies.
The Idiot's Guide to Game of Thrones season 3