The mysterious and enigmatic Night King, chief of the White Walkers and their army of the dead, is fast becoming one of the most talked about characters in Game of Thrones. His march south is clearly putting all the kingdoms of Westeros at risk, and has forced some unlikely kings and queens to work together in a bid to hold him back.
While GoT may have revealed something of the Night King’s back story, through one of Bran’s visions, he is still something of a mystery. We still know little about who he was, what he has been doing in the intervening centuries and what his plans are once he gets south of The Wall – though I would probably guess that it involves a lot of death and destruction!
Interestingly, the actor who plays the Night King is also something of a mystery – a far cry from the household names who play the other influential characters in GoT. Vladimir Furdik may have been involved in the series for some time, but he is relatively new to the role of the Night King. Given the dramatic ending to Season Seven, however, Furdik can expect to have a lot more screen time when the final season of GoT hits our screens late 2018 /early 2019.
15. He Was Born In Slovakia
Vladimir Furdik, who is known as Furdo to friends and co-stars, was born on the 1st July, 1970 in the Slovakian city of Bratislava. At the time of his birth, Bratislava was still part of Czechoslovakia, which was a Communist country until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Czechoslovakia only separated into the two new countries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993. Furdo is proud of his Slovakian heritage, and despite the international nature of the Game of Thrones cast, he is the only Slovak who plays one of the major roles in the program.
14. Started Participating In Theatre And Performance Groups Over 40 Years Ago
Vladimir caught the acting – and stunt performing – bug early, becoming involved with theatre and performance groups in his native Czechoslovakia over 40 years ago. He was a member of Tostabur Espadrones, a group which practiced, performed and celebrated traditional fighting skills and weaponry in Bratislava and throughout Czechoslovakia. He was also involved with the Borseus group, which was led by the influential Slovakian stunt performer Gustáv Kyselica. Kyselica was involved in co-ordinating and performing the stunts in major movies such as Kingdom of Heaven and Pearl Harbor, and was something of a mentor for the young Furdik.
13. He’s Not The First Actor To Play Night King
Although Furdik is fast making the role of the brooding and silent Night King his own, he isn’t the first actor to play the part. When the Night King made his early appearances in Game of Thrones, he was actually played by Welsh actor, Richard Brake, who has also appeared in the comedy film Spy and the TV drama series Ray Donovan. Brake played the Night King in Seasons Four and Five, but when it came to Seasons Six and Seven, filming clashes meant that he could no longer continue his role in Game of Thrones, leading to Furdik taking on the Night King’s crown.
12. His First Big Hollywood Break Was In Early 1990s, In The Three Musketeers
Furdo may have started his career as an actor and stuntman in his native Slovakia 40 years ago, but his first big Hollywood break came in the early 1990s, when he was hired first to carry out stunts on the low-budget horror movie Tremors before hitting the big time with a gig performing the fight scenes in the A-list film, The Three Musketeers, starring Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland. It was this movie, and the three-months of filming alongside famous actors and fellow stuntmen and women, that convinced Furdik that this was the career path he wanted to follow from that point on.
11. He’s Actually A Stuntman Turned Actor
Thanks to his early experience, Furdik’s twin skills of acting and performing stunts soon meant that he was in demand for major movies – and that he was being given increasingly prominent roles. In the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, directed by Guy Ritchie as a sequel to his 2009 movie starring the same character, Furdik was cast in the role of Andrzej, one of the gypsies who guides Sherlock Holmes and his sidekicks over the French border, while Moriarty’s henchmen are in pursuit. Furdik’s character tragically dies in a fight with those henchmen, as Sherlock makes his escape.
10. Despite Turning Into An Actor, Stunt Performing Was Still His First Love
While he was enjoying more prominent roles in movies in his own right, stunt performing remained Furdo’s bread and butter, and he continued to pick up work on major movies and with big-name directors all through the 21st century. He was a key stunt performer in action movies such as Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Robin Hood in 2010, as well as taking on some of the jaw dropping stunts in the 2013 blockbuster Thor: The Dark World. Furdik was also cast in the 2012 Bond movie Skyfall – a project that many actors would have given their right arm to be involved with.
9. He’s Got Killer Swordplay Skills
Although the Bond role was a dream come true for any stunt performer, all those high speed vehicles and hi-tech weapons is a bit out of Furdik’s comfort zone. His early experience taking part in historic re-enactments and performances with Tostabur Espadrones, back at home in Bratislava, means that he considers himself more of an expert on co-ordinating and performing stunts involving swordplay and fencing – one of the main reasons he got his big break in The Three Musketeers and also how he first became involved with GoT, which also has a very historic and traditional feel when it comes to weaponry – including the Night King’s spear!
8. He’s Not A Fan Of Game Of Thrones!
Despite his involvement with and inside knowledge of GoT, Vladimir Furdik doesn’t really consider himself a fan of the popular HBO show. Although he has watched a few episodes, and has to avoid questions from friends and reporters about what is going to be happening in upcoming seasons, he prefers to watch action movies, particularly martial arts films. He says he finds these more interesting, as they are more relevant to his skills and interests – despite the impressive fight scenes in Game of Thrones. Given how excited most Thronies would be to even appear in GoT for one second, Furdik’s casting does seem to be a bit of a waste!!
7. He’s Been Credited As A Superstar Stand-In
While Furdik has been involved in blockbuster movies as a general stunt performer, in a few cases he has been cast and credited as a stunt double for a particular actor – meaning that he has been the stand-in for some pretty big Hollywood names, when the filming gets too hot for these actors to handle. Furdo has been lucky enough to act as Channing Tatum’s stunt double in the historical drama, The Eagle and has also done Nicolas Cage’s stunts in the 2011 film, The Season of the Witch. As if that wasn’t enough, he has even stood in for Tom Hiddleston in War Horse.
6. He’s Also Pulled Stunts In Space
Furdik also secured a prominent role in the Alien prequel film, Prometheus, in 2012. Playing one of the mercenaries who was hired by the Weyland Corporation to act as security for their mission to the mysterious moon LV-223, his initially nameless character was even given a name – Furdik! His big moment came in the scene when he and three other mercenaries were trying to kill one of the officers, who was trying to re-board the ship after becoming mutated. In an effort to escape his mutated crew-mate, Furdo ended up being axed in the back, and dragged off to meet his fate on the planet’s surface.
5. He’s Had A Dual Role In Game Of Thrones
As well as playing the key role of the Night King in Game of Thrones, Furdik has already played an important part on the development of the background story, appearing as a stunt double for one of the characters in Bran’s visions of the past. In the flashback when Bran sees Ser Arthur Dayne fighting with a young Ned Stark, who is trying to rescue his sister Lyanna from the Tower of Joy, it isn’t actually the actor who plays Ser Arthur, Luke Roberts, that you see fighting – it’s actually Vladimir Furdik. Go back and re-watch the scene to try and catch an early glimpse of the Night King.
4. He Had A Background Role In GoT Before Becoming Night King
His stunts in the Tower of Joy fight scene aren’t the only time that Vladimir Furdik was involved with the Game of Thrones universe before his first appearance as the Night King. The creators of the show have used him as an advisor for a lot of their stunts throughout the series, taking advantage of his years of experience as a Hollywood stunt performer – especially his expertise with swords and the other traditional weapons you might expect to see in Westeros. Given his involvement with the show, you start to understand how he secured the key role of the Night King – in the right place at the right time!
3. His First Appearance As Night King Was Episode 5, Season 6
Furdik made his first appearance as the Night King in the episode “The Door”. This was episode five of Season Six, and though Furdo has fond memories of his first moment in a GoT starring role, for Thronies, this particular episode is one of the most harrowing and upsetting. The Night King and his Army of the Dead gather where Bran, Meera and Hodor have gathered in a cave. Bran and Meera only escape because Hodor sacrifices himself, to Meera’s cries of “Hold the door” – explaining Bran’s vision of the young Hodor’s seizure and the words that eventually give him his strange nickname.
2. You’ve Actually Seen Him Without His Night King Make-Up On GoT
The episode “The Door” is also the only time that we see Vladimir Furdik without his Night King make-up or just performing stunts for someone else, when he appears as the mortal man chosen by the Children of the Forest to become their weapon against men. In the scene in question, Furdik is tied to a tree and stabbed by Leaf by the leader of the Children of the Forest, who is wielding a Dragonglass spear. However, Furdik’s character doesn’t die, instead becoming the first White Walker – the terrible legacy which the Children of the Forest have left for Westeros.
1. He’s Never Uttered A Word As Night King!
While we may have seen Furdo without his Night King costume in “The Door” – and heard him scream when he was stabbed by the Dragonglass spear – we haven’t yet heard him speak, as so far the Night King himself has remained broodingly silent. Fans have started to speculate about whether we will ever hear the Night King speak, or whether it would be more effective for his character to remain mute and menacing. Furdo himself hasn’t expressed an opinion on the matter, and opinions amongst fans are divided as to whether having the Night King speak would be a good thing, or whether it would spoil the way the character has developed.
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