Game of Thrones Season 8 wasn’t exactly the home run fans were hoping for, and some of the cast members seem to agree. After the death of his character, Varys, actor Conleth Hill publicly griped about the way it was handled on the show. Now, a clip from a new behind-the-scenes Game of Thrones documentary reveals his immediate reaction to the onscreen death in Episode 5, and his body language says it all. Like many long-time fans of the series, Hill looks visibly uncomfortable and immensely frustrated that Varys’ story ends like this.
HBO released Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, the 2-hour documentary about making the final season, on Sunday night. The Last Watch chronicles everything that happened behind the scenes with cast and crew, including exclusive looks at the cast table reads for each Season 8 episode. On Twitter, fans are latching onto one specific reaction scene during the table read for Episode 5: “The Bells.”
At the start of the episode, Daenerys Targaryen learns that Varys betrayed her and is backing Jon Snow for the Iron Throne instead, so Dany executes Varys for treason.
After a full season where he had hardly any dialogue and no significant plotlines whatsoever, Varys was unceremoniously killed via dragon fire. When Varys actor Conleth Hill reads the scene, he reacts with what appears like visible disgust. Once clip showing the scene posted to Twitter accrued more than 2 million views in less than 48 hours.
“I told you what would happen if you betrayed me,” Dany says.
“You did,” is Varys’ solemn response.
At this, Hill sighs deeply and tosses his script onto the table to then lean back with folded arms with a blank expression. To her credit, Cersei Lannister actress Lena Headey grabs his hand to offer support. Even Emilia Clarke tosses Hill a sympathetic look as she sentences him to death with her lines as Daenerys. As producer Bryan Cogman reads from the script, Hill’s growing discomfort is apparent.
“I took it very personally,” Hill told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published May 12. “I took it as a person, not as an actor or an artist. I understood the reactions of previous actors who had been in the same position a lot more than I did at the time. You can’t help feeling that you failed in some way, that you haven’t lived up to some expectation that you didn’t know about.”
These comments were given months after the actual table read took place. Varys is one of several main characters who survived the entire series only to die less than two full episodes before the very end, so on some level that’s incredibly disappointing, particularly in the moment Hill found out.
“At the time, nothing could console me. I kept thinking: “What did I do wrong?” There wasn’t any pre-warning,” he said. “All these famous stories about [actors on Thrones] being taken out for a meal or being phoned at the very least [to notify them that their character was being killed off]. This was just reading cold hard copy.”
It’s unclear if Hill first heard the news at that table read or when he first received the script even earlier. Either way, it’s definitely not the ideal way to find out your character just died. Then again, maybe Hill will cheer up when he realizes Varys may have gotten the last laugh against Daenerys.
Game of Thrones: The Last Watch is now available to stream via HBO.