Manufacturers of latex should be sending fan letters every week to author George R.R. Martin. As a new behind-the-scenes video from HBO demonstrates, Martin’s Game Of Thrones uses plenty of the stuff to create not only mythological creatures such as White Walkers but also the elaborate gore effects (read: decapitations) that fans have come to expect and demand. For prosthetics designer Barrie Gower, this is the culmination of a lifelong dream. The son of a cinema manager in the north of England, Gower “grew up with Star Wars and all the science-fiction films of the ’70s. I spent a lot of my childhood in my bedroom, covering myself in latex, blood, and gore.” And whereas in most professions, these would be considerable drawbacks, on Game Of Thrones, they are a positive boon, to paraphrase John Cleese.
These days, Gower heads a whole team or artisans at his “cutting edge,” Emmy-winning makeup company, BGFX. Working on Thrones involves long, tedious days of making life casts of actors and sewing individual hairs into prosthetic pieces, but Gower wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. For him, what makes this assignment special is the variety of challenges the show offers. “It’s very rare you’ll be on a project, and you’ll be decapitating somebody the one week, and then you’ll be doing a full-body prosthetic the next week,” he says. The video offers fans the chance to really inspect and admire the lovingly detailed work that Gower and his colleagues have created for Thrones. And how does Gower describe working on the show? His favorite memory, he says, is of the episode “Hardhome” from May 2015. Gower has an odd idea of what constitutes an “enjoyable” time: “It was very cold, wet, muddy, smoke, snow. We had it all going on.” Well, as long as he had fun, that’s all that matters.
Game Of Thrones returns to HBO for its sixth season on April 24.