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Meet Game of Thrones’ woman of weapons

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Natalia Lee and Kit HarringtonImage copyright N Lee/Getty
Image caption Natalia Lee has labored intently with Thrones star Kit Harington

It’s most likely not a good concept to get into an argument with Natalia Lee.

The solely feminine armourer engaged on Game of Thrones, she takes care of all of the present’s weapons, from flaming arrows to large catapults.

She additionally performed the fearsome Chella in season one, as a result of they wanted “a warrior who chops ears off” after which strings them round her neck.

Image copyright N Lee
Image caption She’s in her ingredient surrounded by weapons

But whereas she loves working with the actors, she will get labored up if anybody questions the truth that a woman is wielding swords and slingshots.

“I’m constantly told, ‘Women don’t want to see that, women don’t want to do that.’ It’s so frustrating,” says Australian-born Natalia, 35.

“We’re succesful of dealing with weapons, I’ve proved I can carry all of them.

“My job’s a learned, technical skillset, so your gender has no bearing.”

Image copyright N Lee
Image caption Natalia typically provides the ending touches to weapons within the workshop

Natalia’s profession has been a one-woman battle – actually – to get to the place she is now.

It’s exhausting to seek out one other woman working at her degree in movie and TV.

But regardless of her seniority, she nonetheless calls herself the “baby” of the Thrones crew. The males she works with are all 20 years her senior.

She’s labored alongside weapons grasp Tommy Dunne with “quite a small crew”, serving to co-ordinate their group, which incorporates model-makers.

Natalia’s obligations have included designing the massive Heartsbane Sword, which Thrones followers will know was stolen by Samwell Tarley in season six.

Image copyright N Lee
Image caption Natalia did weeks of analysis to design the Heartsbane sword

She clearly loves her job, enthusing about how a lot she loves each the designing and the “physical discipline” of working with weapons.

Despite experiencing s3xism throughout her profession, her perspective in direction of work is unfailingly optimistic.

Her high recommendation to for aspiring feminine armourers is: “Yes you can!”

Image copyright N Lee
Image caption …and right here is the completed Heartsbane sword

“The job can be hard,” she admits. “You’re going to be the one lady within the room, fairly remoted.

“I am used to males being rowdy, and getting them in your facet fairly rapidly. It could be intimidating for ladies to be outnumbered.

“But don’t be disheartened – most men want you to succeed and they’ve been my greatest allies.”

Natalia has stored an eye out for younger girls on set, saying: “If it is a stand-in or stuntwoman, I will all the time attain out and discuss to them, I understand how it’s.

“Some days I’m the only woman in a male environment of thousands of men. I know it can be uncomfortable.”

Image copyright N Lee
Image caption Natalia’s inventive aptitude is utilized in her work

So, given she’s typically preventing her nook, what’s the enchantment of her job?

It’s in her blood, she explains.

“I was surrounded by weaponry growing up, my family was always at shooting ranges.”

Jobs in safety led to certifications in firearms, self-defence and stunt coaching, earlier than working as a civilian for New South Wales Police armoury.

Jobs aiding armourers on movie units adopted, and the remaining is historical past.

‘Bursting the bubble’

“The lure of the film industry dragged me in,” she says. “You tend to travel a lot and it’s better than working in a bunker somewhere.”

Her job on Game of Thrones means she rubs shoulders with the actors, displaying them how one can use the weapons, together with reproduction swords made of rubber and aluminium.

Rubber swords are fairly widespread on set, because it seems.

“The movie magic, I don’t want to burst the bubble!” she laughs.

Image copyright Sky
Image caption Swords can have many replicas made of rubber and aluminium

There could be 20 variations of one sword if it is utilized in a lot of scenes.

Steel blades are solely used for close-ups, however not in motion scenes as a result of they might “really chop someone’s head off”.

For combat scenes, an aluminium blade is usually used as a result of it is a lot blunter and lighter, however makes the identical “clank” sound as metal.

Rubber can be utilized if somebody falls off a horse or goes in water, and Natalia typically touches up the paintwork afterwards.

The actors might have a lot of airs and graces engaged on such a in style present, however she’s full of reward for them.

“I get all the younger girls and older ladies saying, ‘Kit Harington, he’s so beautiful’, but he’s a really lovely, polite young man,” she laughs.

She recollects working with Harington, who performs Jon Snow, on a freezing glacier in Iceland, the place she was wrapped in thermals whereas he needed to take care of having his fingers and face uncovered.

“I was still freezing, and yet he said ‘Thank you’ every time I put on his sword or helped him with something.”

She laughs: “If it was me, I would probably have been screaming, going ‘Get that thing off!'”

Her favorite actor, although, is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who performs Jaime Lannister, who she likes as a result of he is “very competitive, very sporty”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Firm favorite: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

She admires his means to combat with one hand (followers will know the character’s different one was chopped off). Natalia teaches the celebrities how one can transfer round simply whereas carrying a sword, and how one can use the crossbows, trebuchets and catapults.

“They have such high standards, I’m surprised how hard they are on themselves on set,” she says.

“They’re on camera from morning ’til night, they have to ace every scene. For the youngsters, being kids growing up on a film set instils a hard work ethic.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The forged swapped swords for trophies on the 2016 Emmy Awards

Another agency favorite is Jerome Flynn, who performs the soldier Bronn. She describes him as enjoyable to work with, “wisecracking and also a great humanitarian in his own life”.

Special plaudits are reserved for the sword-wielding actresses.

Maisie Williams, who performs Arya Stark, is “tremendously talented”, having “done everything from wirework to fighting with knives and swords”.

The mighty Brienne of Tarth is performed by Gwendoline Christie, who’s a “very strong girl” who needed to be taught to lose her “feminine traits”.

Natalia says: “You go, ‘No buddy, you’ve got to look like a bloke.’ It could be something as simple as how she’s holding the sword, so you have to work with fine mannerisms.”

But Natalia, who will not reveal any secrets and techniques when requested concerning the closing sequence in 2019, says she’s not completely unhappy to say farewell to the present.

‘More to do’

“I’ve been stuck in medieval weaponry since the pilot – eight years. They say there’s going to be a prequel but I’m out, wanting to do my own thing.”

Her subsequent job is firmly rooted in modern-day warfare, on Amazon’s new Tom Clancy sequence Jack Ryan.

As for the long run, she’s optimistic however thinks there’s a lot extra to do.

“We need mentoring programmes, female apprentices and a quota for women on the crew. If one girl sees another in a workshop, they won’t feel as intimidated,” she says.

“When we can say there’s a girl who works with a two-tonne catapult and nobody blinks an eyelid, that’s when we’ll be on an equal playing field.”

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