The living and the undead collided in what may be the bloodiest battle in Game of Thrones history on Sunday, but poor lighting and serious chaos caused many fans to miss major and minor details. One thing most fans overlooked during the episode, titled "The Long Night," was a cameo from country music star Chris Stapleton.
Unlike previous cameos from musicians like Ed Sheeran, Stapleton's was understated. So much so that only a few eagle-eyed viewers even noticed he was there. The "Tennessee Whiskey" singer, a huge Game of Thrones fan according to Rolling Stone, played a Wildling-turned-wight in the third episode of the HBO series' 8th and final season. Stapleton's nameless character was shown during the vital moment Jon Snow attempted to charge the Night King.
Stapleton's wife, Morgane, posted an Instagram video paused on the moment the award-winning musician opened his eyes and became part of the Night King's undead army. She captioned the post, "Episode 3. . .my wildling is a white walker."
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The 41-year-old musician told Rolling Stone his management team reached out to HBO about being cast in a small part on Game of Thrones. They obliged, and Stapleton's dream of being part of the show came true. He, along with bass player J.T. Cure and his tour manager, were invited to the set to appear.
"I was like, you know, I would gladly fly to wherever in the world just to be a small part and get to watch that show going down," he said. "They were gracious enough to let me come participate in that way."
Due to their lack of training as actors, Stapleton said he and his crew underwent "a crash course" in how to play White Walkers before they stepped into their roles. The direction was pretty straight forward, he told Rolling Stone.
"They knew we weren't actors," he said. "So the direction was basically, we're going to place you, and when we tell you to, open your eyes. And they trained us on how White Walkers are supposed to stand up and move when they're first waking up. We had a crash course in that."
Despite appearing on the show, even Stapleton got no information about how the episode — or the show overall — would end. He admitted in his interview with Rolling Stone that he, like many other Game of Thrones fans, thought "the White Walkers would win." Those who watched Sunday's episode know now that the Night King and his army were dealt with in epic fashion during the final moments of the Battle of Winterfell.
"That was what I thought was going to happen and that's off the table at this point. I don't really know. Once again, they do a bang-up job of keeping you guessing as to what will happen. That's why it's the greatest television show certainly of modern times and possibly ever."
Stapleton wasn't the first unexpected star to make a cameo in season 8 of Game of Thrones. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame and Silicon Valley star Martin Starr appeared in the season premiere of the HBO series. Both cameos were as subtle as Stapleton's, and many fans missed them. McElhenney confirmed his Game of Thrones role on Instagram when he posted a photo of himself with an arrow through his eye.0comments
"Don't blink," he captioned the still.
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According to EW, McElhenney and Starr were the first casualties in the episode, during which Theon Greyjoy rescued sister Yara from Euron.