In 2011 Game of Thrones started filming episodes in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I found out about the auditions on a famous Croatian forum, and since I was unemployed, I thought, why not? I wasn’t a huge fan of GRRM, but I read the first two books by then, saw season one and decided to go for it. Also, I really wanted to meet Lena Heady and get her autograph.
Long story short, the next day, at ungodly hour of early morning, I picked up three other young ladies, complete strangers to me and each other, and we set off for Dubrovnik. We only met the night before on the same forum, with the same idea, and I was the one with the car. We are still in contact to this day.
The drive from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, to Dubrovnik took about 7-8 hours, so we got there just in time for the evening “auditions”. I write “audition” because they only had us, a crowd of people, fill out a questionnaire, and then they took our photos. We waited in the line longer than it took us to be processed. The GoT team told us they would contact us with the details if they chose us.
We spent the night in Dubrovnik, crashing at one of the other girl’s friend’s place, and drove back to Zagreb the next day.
A few months later, I got the call and was asked to send some additional photos. They needed some young women for a specific scene and it seemed that I and one of the other girls fit what they wanted. So, I got the role of the extra with a special scene. Woot, right?
In October, the filming was on. I, and one of the other girls, got to shoot the same scene, while the third one got to be in scenes with Daenerys. The fourth girl, well, we got her under special circumstances, you’ll see.
We had to take care of our own accommodation and travel expenses. We took the bus this time, because parking during the high season in Dubrovnik is a nightmare, not to mention expensive. Lucky for me, Sanja, my traveling companion, had free accommodation at a monastery’s apartment and they had an extra free bed that I could use. The view from the room was just amazing, and I got to fall asleep to the sound of the crashing waves.
We checked in with the crew, met some people and went to try on our costumes. We were to be nobles, the Lannister people. We got one of the assistant producers to let us get the fourth girl to join us in shooting the scene. And she did join us the next day, as one of the common people, throwing insults our way (it was really hard to stay serious and act afraid when she shouted funny obscenities at us in Croatian during the shooting).
After trying our costumes, we were sent to the hair department to plan our hairdos. That took a while! Afterwards, we were free to roam the city, a.k.a. go for a swim!, and were told to check back in for a big rehearsal two days after. Sanja had a scene shooting the next day while I had a free day.
In the evening, we got invited to the cast and crew party, it was someone’s birthday. We were that darn lucky (or should I say, someone fancied my auditioning companion). The party was totally… unexpected. Most of the cast was there. Of course, as a total geek that I am, I had to borrow “fancy” clothes and jewelry from my beautiful companions. Prior the party, I got to meet Lena!! And I got the autograph that I wanted! #fangirling I carried in my bag Imagine Me and You DVD the whole day in case we bumped into her somewhere, and it turned out we sat down for a pre-party drink at a café where she came to sit as well with Peter Dinklage (Tyrion).
The rehearsal was fun, it was a big scene, a procession, and I got to meet the stunt double I did the scene with. As a part of my role, I get attacked in the procession and my dress gets ripped a bit.
The first day of the shoot arrived! We got up at around 4 am. When we got to the production set, a breakfast bar was spread out for all the extras, everything was warm and fresh. After filling our bellies, we went to get dressed and get our hair done. That part took the longest for me, about 1.5 hrs. And the make-up was shortest, they just made sure we had sunscreen on, and covered tattoos if anyone had any. We boarded a bus and were driven to the shooting location.
For the first half of the day we shot the scene where Princess Myrcella was sent away. It was amazing being on a set of such a huge production. Because we were in that extra scene, we missed out on the late breakfast, but Peter Dinklage took pity on the two of us, and brought us some fruit the actors had available at all time. We did get to eat properly after the scene was shot.
One thing I want to emphasize, they really did take great care of all the extras! Whenever there was a longer break, little bottles of water were handed out to everyone. We had the pre-filming breakfast, late breakfast/snack and lunch each day. If we stood waiting under the scorching sun, they brought us umbrellas for shade. I cannot remember one bad experience from the set. And it was an amazing experience. Cut! Go! Wait! Action! Be sad. Be scared. Look here, look there… and all the actors were really friendly.
Out of the cast that we met and got to hang out at the party and on the set, Jack Gleeson (King Joffrey) stood out the most for me. Unlike the character he played, he is such a sweet, always smiling person. It was hard for me to “hate” him in the show afterward. He really did a great job as King Joffrey, but really, he is such an opposite that I was completely blown away by how approachable he was.
Peter Dinklage was okay, I think he wanted to come across as Tyrion, and at moments was a bit off putting, but I can understand that since he is a famous public person. Nonetheless, he, too, was kind to us.
Another person that totally charmed me was Ian Beattie, a.k.a. Ser Meryn Trent. Such a sweet family man. He chatted with us, provided life advice, and was generally nice.
Lena Heady was cool, and Emilia Clarke left an impression of being a bit shy (mind you, that was over five years ago). Sophia Turner was just sweet, didn’t have much interaction with her, and she was still just a kid back then.
Oh… and the Hound! Rory McCann was hilarious and always ready to chat with the extras on the set and making us laugh. Hats off to him for standing in that scorching heat for hours wearing his armor. At times, they would just pour out a whole bottle of water into it, so he could cool off at least a bit.
Overall, it really was an unforgettable experience.
After the half-day shoot of the Myrcella scene, we moved onto the procession scene where the common people attack the nobles on the street. We shot that for two days. And that’s where my other scene was, and it made the cut as well! The stunt-double I worked with was great, and we didn’t have to re-shoot the scene many times, just from a few different angles. Shooting that scene, when the camera was set primarily on the four of us, and the common people “crowding” around us… well… It is one of those moments where you wonder whether all of it really happened to you. Like a distant dream. But it really did happen! And to put it succinctly, it was awesome.
I don’t know what else to write, I just let my memories flow. There were so many unforgettable moments and details that it’s hard to put down and share everything, but at least you got a glimpse of it.
If you have any questions concerning my experience, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Thank you for reading!