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Expert reveals surprising way actors are able to play dead so convincingly

Expert reveals surprising way actors are able to play dead so convincingly

An expert has revealed how actors are able to play dead so convincingly

It's the moment all TV fans dread, seeing their favourite character killed on-screen.

Whether you're a horror fan who's used to seeing violence on-screen, or a rom-com lover who's left in tears as one of the characters takes their final breaths, we've all been there. It's devastating.

But have you ever wondered just how Kit Harington was able to lie so still while filming Jon Snow's death scenes in Game of Thrones? Turns out the answer is surprisingly grim.

In an episode of her podcast The Rest is Entertainment, co-host Marina Hyde sought to get to the bottom of what happens behind-the-scenes when a character kicks the bucket.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in his infamous death scene.

Responding to a curious listener's question which asked how actors stay so still while filming these scenes, Marina revealed she'd spoken with a TV and film a producer and learnt there's a lengthy audition process required to play a corpse.

"The casting of a corpse is a thing," she said, adding that auditions are held for the very reason that 'some people do freak out' when playing dead.

"Essentially there are some actors who are very very good at being still, and now they cheat the ‘not breathing’ elements," co-host Richard Osman added.

Marina went on to add that films and TV shows would previously avoiding capturing footage of the actors chest due to the complication of, you know, breathing.

Kristian Nairn as Hodor in Game of Thrones.

However, thanks to advancements in VFX, directors can now create the effect of a motionless body by filming a shot of the chest 'at rest' and then layering 'the rest of the footage.'

The technique is also used for filming scenes with an 'open-eye corpse', with the VFX removing instances of blinking during takes.

It turns out the listener isn't the only person to have wondered how actors are able to play a convincing corpse either, with a curious Redditor asking actors to recall their experiences of pretending to be dead.

"Wasn't a corpse extra but have stopped blinking, moving, and pulses on skin for 'corpses' throughout my career in VFX," one person replied, while another user added that a lot of the work is done 'in post-production'.

Corpse actors are usually brought in for death scenes. (HBO)
Corpse actors are usually brought in for death scenes. (HBO)

However the process becomes a little more complicated when the magic of VFX isn't available, with one Redditor recalling watching someone try to play dead in a theatre show.

"I remember watching a filmed version of the Romeo and Juliet ballet and at the end, Juliet's head on Romeo's chest was visually bobbing up and down by at least an inch because he was still breathing so hard," they wrote.

Maybe they should leave it to the professional corpse actors next time...

Featured Image Credit: HBO

Topics: Film, Game of Thrones, TV