If you watch closely, there’s a moment in the recent Game of Thrones episode “Hardhome” in which Kit Harington’s Jon Snow grabs Selkirk graduate Chelsea Mainwaring by the arm and sends her fleeing from an apocalyptic force of undead wights that are zombie-tumbling down a nearby cliff.
“I’m sick and dying there, and Karsi—the head of the wildlings, she’s a chief—she comes through the crowd to rescue people and finds me. I’m flailing all over the place, and Jon Snow has his arm on me as we huddle together, then she takes me on to the boat,” Mainwaring the Star.
But the 26-year-old wasn’t as fan-girly in the heartthrobs’ presence as she anticipated being.
“He was just a regular person, really. At first I was like ‘whoa, Jon Snow’ but after a few minutes it didn’t really faze me anymore. At one point we shared the lineup to the porta-potties.”
Mainwaring was thrilled to be a part of the epic production, which was filmed in northern Belfast. The multi-month project meant waking up in the middle of the night, keeping herself suitably disheveled (which involved rubbing coconut oil in her hair and not washing her hair for weeks) and at one point covering herself in fake blood.
“On set they really made us feel like we were in it. There was fake smoke and screaming in the background to get us into the mood.”
The episode was filmed on a remote, snowy shore and the days were often grueling, but Mainwaring said it was worth it.
“I was getting up at 12:30, 1 a.m. and then we’d start shooting as soon as it got light out, right until 5 or 6 p.m. I would get back to Belfast around 8 at night, so I only got a couple hours of sleep. But I was having so much fun.”
While working on the show she stayed in a Belfast hostel, and she said the looks she got from residents were hilarious.
“It was really fun walking back to the hostel looking like a total grease ball. If you didn’t bother to take the fake blood off it was ever worse.”
Her extra work included gazing up at an imaginary giant as it walked by, a pole representing what would later be added during post-production. Her favourite part, though, is when her character is resurrected. Before the shoot the extras spent a day being instructed how to properly zombify themselves.
“They did about eight different takes of us getting up all haggard,” she said, describing the scene in which the Night’s King shows off his supernatural powers to a cowering Snow.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had on a job. I would like to maybe pursue it a little more, because I had the time of my life,” said Mainwaring, who studied jewelry-making at Kootenay School of Arts. Her uncle is local jeweller Chris Kolmel.
She initially got into acting while working props on The Hobbit in New Zealand.
“I love fantasy, it’s my thing,” she said.