[SPOILER ALERT: This article mentions a key scene from Season 8, Episode 3 of “Game of Thrones”]
Beneath the ice-blue eyes and crownlike horns of the infamous “Game of Thrones” character called “the Night King” lies the seasoned actor and stuntman Vladimir Furdik.
And before being killed by Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in Sunday’s episode, the 48-year-old Furdik, who portrayed the chilling character since Season 6 of the HBO hit series, acted in other roles on the show.
For instance, he played the first White Walker Jon Snow (Kit Harington) ever killed, he told Entertainment Weekly in March. Prior to that, the actor said he did “a lot of horse falls, fire drops, high falls, sword fights. I doubled for Arthur Dayne [for the Tower of Joy fight scene]. I’m one of the men jumping from the boat in the fire [during Daenerys’ dragon attack].”
“I don’t really know why they cast me,” Furdik, who is originally from Slovakia, added. “When we did Season 5, I was the White Walker who fought Jon Snow [in “Hardhome”] — the first time Jon Snow killed a White Walker, that was me. After that, [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] asked if I’d play the Night King for seasons 6 through 8. I never asked why. Maybe they were happy with what I did in season 5.”
While many “Game of Thrones” fans were thrilled by Arya’s epic takedown of the seemingly invincible Knight King, others were admittedly disappointed to see him — and his storyline — fall so abruptly. Furdik joked in an Instagram post on Tuesday that Arya “killed [him] with a smile.”
A photo of the pair posing together received nearly 50,000 likes within just eight hours. Fans flooded Furdik’s comment section, voicing their disapproval of his demise.
“Gonna miss the Night King,” one fan commented.
“I hope u come back,” another wrote.
“NK cannot be defeated this easy. In the coming episodes, I wish they show something like NK’s plan still lives though he s dead. Something plz,” a third suggested.
On Monday, fans began scouring Google to find information about the man behind the mask. Searches for “Who played the Night King” spiked by Monday morning, directing fans to stories and interviews with Furdik. His Instagram page has already amassed 34,000 followers and includes several behind-the-scenes shots.
Hundreds of Instagram users have been commenting on Furdik’s posts since Sunday when the bloody battle of Winterfell aired. Many voiced their surprise at his drastically different look, admitting it wasn’t exactly what they imagined.
“The night king! He looks like Owen Hunt haha,” one user wrote, referring to “Grey’s Anatomy” star Kevin McKidd.
“Handsom fellow,” another agreed.
“The night king being cute,” a fan wrote on one of Furdik’s photos.