EXCLUSIVE: Keisha Castle-Hughes on 'Insane' 'Game of Thrones' Death: 'It's a Really Cool Way to Go Out'

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Photo: HBO/Getty
Game of Thrones isn’t afraid to get gruesome with its deaths -- and they upped the ante on Sunday’s episode.
In the episode, titled “Stormborn,” Oberyn Martell’s eldest daughter, fierce warrior Obara Sand (Keisha Castle-Hughes), suffered a “gruesome” demise during an epic sea battle, when she was impaled in the stomach with her own spear. Obara wasn’t the only Sand to die -- her sister, Nymeria Sand (Jessica Henwick), also suffered the same fate, at the hand of her own whip.
“It was insane,” Castle-Hughes told ET with a laugh, of her character’s farewell episode. “You know what? It’s a really cool way to go out. One of the greatest things about [the show] is that it’s always promised to give each character an on-screen death. However, they’ve fallen into -- after seven seasons -- having to top the last death every time. We can’t forget the end of last season, when we lost half the cast in one massive explosion, so how do you top that? They did it!”
The 27-year-old actress opened up about the physical demands of filming the intense HBO fantasy drama, revealing that Obara’s death scene had quite a lot of moving parts.
Photo: HBO
“It’s a very physically demanding show. The characters we were playing were incredibly physically demanding. There are a lot of elements at bay to play with. You’re wearing leather armor and you’re on a slippery ship. There are a hundred people around you and you gotta make sure that you hit the spear at the right actor, otherwise it could go wrong really quickly,” Castle-Hughes said. “They have a great stunt team who -- I don’t know how they do it -- somehow choreograph it and make it all work. It’s wild for it to come to an end."
Castle-Hughes confessed she always imagined Obara’s death scene to be less fierce and more low-key, a total contrast to her usual all-business demeanor.
“I kept pitching -- the thing is, with Obara Sand, she’s so over-the-top in a good way -- and we used to always make up these backstories with the girls who play my sisters. Jessica Henwick [who plays Nymeria] and I would just make these stories up, like Obara just needed a night out. She was just so serious about killing everyone all the time, it was like, gosh, settle down!” she recalled.
“Because she’s so fierce and angry and ready for battle at all times -- every scene she’s asleep, she’d be in full armor while other people are sleeping normally and she’s with her spear ready to fight. Imagine if she just ate something, if she left Dorne and she ate something bad and got food poisoning and died,” Castle-Hughes mused, chuckling at her idea. “Wouldn’t that be great to see something like that take a fierce character like that down?”
Though Castle-Hughes says “of course” she wishes she had more time to dig deeper into her character’s family backstory, she confesses it was hard jumping into the vast world in season five.
“In terms of our characters as a whole, it was a very difficult job from the get-go because it was an introduction of a lot of characters at once and an entire new world, followed by the introduction of Oberyn Martell, played so eloquently by Pedro Pascal,” she said. “It would have been nice if we could have explored who those people were, but it would have been difficult to develop characters when you have such a big ensemble and you’re following so many storylines. What we were able to contribute, in terms of toward the story as a whole, and I am really proud of the work that we did together.”
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.