HBO's Game of Thrones earned a reputation for being one of the most violent and unsettling dramas on TV, with one of the most controversial scenes being the wedding night of Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), in which he violently rapes her, the filming of which Rheon calls the "worst day" of his career. The actor recently detailed how, despite having filmed far more graphically violent sequences on the show, the reality of those moments is largely destroyed when you're dealing with special effects, with the violence enacted upon Sansa being difficult for everyone involved in the scene to film.
"That was horrible. Nobody wanted to be there. Nobody wants to do that, but if it’s telling a story then you have to tell it truthfully," Rheon shared with Metro. "They didn’t sensationalize it or anything. It was very, very hard watching. It’s a horrible thing that happens, unfortunately, and it shouldn’t be. It was the worst day of my career."
He added, "Chopping someone’s finger off you don’t really see it, and when you’re doing like a closeup, it’s a piece of plastic. We’re just acting, it’s not real. Then something like that where you’re in the actual reality of the situation is very difficult to deal with. It was a horrible, horrible day."
For a show filled with the living undead and fire-breathing dragons, it was the reality of the encounter that made such an impact not only on the performers, but also on audiences.
"This is something that we shouldn’t even have to worry about, because it’s something that shouldn’t exist in this world but unfortunately it does," Rheon expressed.
Every scene of violence, especially sexual violence, drew the ire of audiences throughout the run of the series, with this scene having even more of an impact given Sansa having already been subjected to emotional and physical violence at the hands of Joffrey Baratheon. Additionally, this scene wasn't in George R.R. Martin's books, so it was entirely an invention of the HBO filmmakers. On the film's home video release, producer Bryan Cogman weighed in on the issue.
"Basically, when we decided to combine Sansa’s storyline with another character in the books it was done with the idea that it would be hugely dramatically satisfying to have Sansa back in her occupied childhood home and navigate this Gothic horror story she’s found herself in and, of course, to be reunited with Theon — setting her on the path to reclaiming her family home and becoming a major player in the big overall story," Cogman expressed. "That said, when we decided we were going to do that we were faced with the question: if she’s marrying Ramsay, what would happen on her wedding night? And we made the decision to not shy away from what would realistically happen on that wedding night with these two characters, and the reality of the situation, and the reality of this particular world.”
He added, "She goes [into the marriage] without the right information about Ramsay, she gets the sense that he’s dangerous, and when he turns out to be even worse than she thought, she’s not broken by the attack, she immediately sets to getting the hell out of there and planning her next move.”
Ramsay ultimately met his demise after an encounter with Jon Snow, with Ramsay tied up and left for dead in a kennel with his own bloodthirsty hounds.