[Spoilers from the Game of Thrones season 5 premiere]: Another king has fallen: Wildling leader Mance Raydar, a.k.a. The King Beyond the Wall, volunteered for a horrifying death at the climax of the Game of Thrones season 5 premiere, being burned alive at the stake rather than bend the knee to self-proclaimed king of Westeros Stannis Baratheon—a fate cut short by a merciful arrow from Jon Snow. Below we talk to actor Ciaran Hinds about Mance’s gruesome fate, including how his storyline will differ from George R.R. Martin’s novels. (And for those wondering, no, Hinds wasn’t actually near the flames during that final scene—it’s the magic of Hollywood, er, Northern Ireland).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you find out about Mance’s fate?
CIARAN HINDS: I had an idea when Stannis and Davos turned up [last season], that it meant something serious for me and my future. I got a very lovely email from [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss]. They said basically, “Hi, you know about this show, you know All Men Must Die, and now you’re going to be on your way”—not quite like that, but it was very lovely. They said we’ll see you in August for a good ‘ol barbecue, basically. It’s very kind that they let you know rather than just send you the script. It can be so much harder than in many series, because they feel such a genuine commitment to each loss, but they have to fulfill their commitment to the series.
That scene with Jon Snow in your cell was arguably your finest in the series, how did you feel about it?
Well, it’s pretty high stakes, I guess, there’s never going to be much higher words. I was never sure, they have so many characters to deal with, how far they were going to take Mance. They decided to start the [season] with a big move and I was the guy to be toasted. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know how it’s turned out.