Daggers drawn: The Sand sisters vs Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 5 - The Sand snakes — Nymeria and Tyene — have murder on their mind in Game of Thrones Season 5. Oberyn’s daughters reveal their plans to t2!
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- Published 29.03.15
The much-awaited fifth season of Game of Thrones will feature a host of new characters, including the Sand Snakes — the three bastard daughters of Season Four favourite Oberyn Martell — who are looking to avenge their father’s death. Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand) and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Tyene Sand) — two of the three Sand Snakes who will play a major part in this season — give us a sneak peek before the series hits television on April 13!
Introduce us to your characters...
Rosabell Laurenti Sellers: I play Tyene Sand. Tyene is one of the Sand Snakes, one of Oberyn Martell’s three daughters that you get to meet in Season Five. I’m the youngest, the daughter of Ellaria Sand [Indira Varma] who is one of Oberyn’s companions, but basically his wife.
Jessica Henwick: I play Nymeria Sand also known as Lady Nym, Oberyn’s second daughter but not by Ellaria. My mother, who died in battle, was an Eastern noblewoman and she is actually the person who taught me my weapon — the bullwhip. I live in Dorne. Nymeria is the most strategic of the three sisters [the third being Obara, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes] and I think her whip is very representative of her character. It’s not about brute force with a whip... it’s about balance and timing, precision and accuracy — and all those things are very much Nymeria.
Who are the Sand Snakes?
Jessica: We’re Oberyn Martell’s bastard children. We’ve grown up hearing all about how the Lannisters have abused our relatives, we’ve lived and breathed that for I don’t know how many years. So when Oberyn dies we’re just like, ‘Okay, finally this is the time, we can’t let this pass. We let the other things kind of slide but now we have to go to war for this.’ We take up Oberyn’s call for revenge and we’ve grown up with him telling us that the Lannisters are the root of all evil.
Rosabell: Yeah and we definitely unite for that, as in we put our own personal problems aside to be strong together. Obviously the dynamics are like between any sisters — there’s gonna be some difficulties!
Jessica: But now we have a common goal. Again, because of our different personalities we have different ideas of how to get to that point. If Obara [Sand] has an obstacle she goes right through it, whereas Nym will stop and look back and think, ‘What’s the way with which I have to expend the least amount of energy to get through this obstacle?’ She’s observant, I’d say.
Rosabell: Tyene will just go for it. One of her weapons is double daggers and her other weapon is poison. That’s not always approved of by the other Snakes — poisoning someone is deemed to be a little underhand. But I also have double daggers and I’m pretty good at using them.
How are relations between Prince Doran and the Sand Snakes?
Jessica: There’s got to be an element of resentment. It wasn’t Oberyn who was invited to Joffrey’s wedding, it was Prince Doran. Doran is wheelchair-bound but if he had gone then maybe our dad wouldn’t have died.
Rosabell: We also have very different mindsets to Doran. He didn’t go to war for the last murder when we think he should’ve. We see him as an obstacle, definitely weak.
Jessica: But despite that, in Dorne family is everything so it is important and we still have to get his approval.
Rosabell: And he is the Prince. We’re still below him.
Are the Sand Snakes out for revenge on one specific person or Lannisters in general?
Rosabell: All Lannisters.
Jessica: Annihilate all Lannisters. The kingdoms will be a better place without them. It’s very much like someone close to us has been taken away; how are we going to hurt them in the same way? Let’s take away someone close to them, and that’s the route that we take.
Tell us a little bit about Dorne…
Jessica: Dorne is very different from Westeros. It’s the only part of the kingdom that we haven’t really seen properly yet, I think. It’s very laid-back. Last season you saw Oberyn, and his costume and the way he talks and the way he walks were all very representative of how Dorne is. Dorne is not black and white, it’s not uptight, it’s very relaxed, it’s not a patriarchal society.
Rosabell: Women have equal rights and you don’t have to be married to someone to go to bed with them.
Jessica: Gender is a sliding scale. It’s interesting, it’s very different from anything we’ve seen. But of all the places I’ve seen on Game of Thrones, it’s the place that I’d want to live.
How has the filming experience been?
Rosabell: We’ve been so fortunate. The boys at The Wall were stuck filming in Belfast on a soundstage in the dark all the time. We got to go to Croatia and we had a proper two weeks in Spain to soak in all the sun we could and enjoy the blue skies.
What training was involved for each of your special weapons?
Jessica: I had six months between my first session and us actually getting round to filming the fight scene. I worked with Paul Shapcott, who is from New Zealand and worked on the Hobbit films. He knew the bullwhip and he taught me how to hit targets. At one point he was throwing toilet rolls into the air and I was having to hit them out of the air.
Rosabell: She’s an expert!
Jessica: Other times he would put sticks in various positions around our rehearsal room and I’d have to go and wrap my whip around them, and then for the last one I’d have to lock it in place so I could actually pull the stick away. It’s like learning to ride a bike — once you know it, you can always go back to it. It’s just about feeling the balance and the weight of it.
Does it make a noise?
Jessica:Yeah it does. The cracker at the end of the whip breaks the sound barrier, so it sounds like a gun shot.
Rosabell: It’s pretty scary! It took us a few days to get used to the sound.
Have you got your own bespoke whip?
Jessica: Yeah! They made a proper whip for me that has a bronze handle. It’s made from kangaroo skin, it’s 8ft-long and it’s really heavy. That’s the one I had to use for close-ups. Then for the majority of the fights, I used one that looked identical but the handle was rubber and plastic, rather than bronze. It was a lot easier for me; it didn’t throw me off balance. And then they did have a standby whip, the third whip, which was just a handle. They said, ‘This is in case it gets too dangerous,’ but actually I never really worked with that one. The whole time I said, ‘I’ve learnt it, I’ve learnt how to do it. Can I do it?’And they kept saying, ‘No you’re gonna have to use the safety whip.’ But every time we got to set, I would use the real whip.
Rosabell: She is Indiana Jones.
DeObia Oparei (Areo Hotah) has a massive axe. Do you think you could take him with your whip?
Jessica: I could take him with a bullwhip. You’d just wrap it around and pull the axe away.
Did you get to use your bullwhip in any real-life scenarios yet? That could come in handy!
Jessica: I’ve practised with it outdoors but it does cause a bit of a stir. I originally brought it back home from Belfast to practise, they put it through the scanner at Belfast airport and they just stopped. They were like, ‘What the heck?’ And I had a dagger, I had a practice dagger as well. Let’s just say eyebrows were raised.
What about Tyene’s daggers?
Rosabell: Daggers are a little bit easier than the whip. I just use one normally and then one upside down. It’s like, stabby, stabby, slice. She’d be great at making sushi. I did a few sessions in Belfast just to get used to the movements. It’s all coming from the hips like in all martial arts. I had never done any martial arts though, so it was all new to me.
Jessica: But you picked it up really quickly. You were good.
Rosabell: The first time I tried it, my ass was sticking out.
Jessica: I think all three of us got called out for our asses being in the wrong place.
Rosabell: Because your centre of gravity has to be low and it has to be.
Jessica: Tuck it in, get low and loose knees — don’t lock your knees.
What do you both get to wear?
Rosabell: The costumes are so cool. Each of us has three different ones.
Jessica: They’re quite similar to Oberyn’s.
Rosabell: There’s a lot of leather strips, basically, hand-sewn, with these tiny little triangles that are carved into it. They’re all hand-hammered on to the leather, each one. It’s massive amount of work. And we have these really nice leather boots. All made just for us. And then of course the armour for the fight scenes was awesome.
What set or location was most exciting to see?
Jessica: We got to sit on the throne. I think all my friends would’ve liked to sit on the throne. But being in Seville, filming in the Alcazar was insane. It hasn’t been closed to tourists for years and we had it all to ourselves. Someone was just telling us that they’re already doing Game of Thrones tours in Seville — the season hasn’t even gone out.
What’s it like for two relatively inexperienced actors to come on to a show this big?
Jessica: This is the first thing I’ve been in where there’s been such an established fan base and a very specific type of fan base — intense Internet users.
Rosabell: They know what they want to see and they are very much fans of the book.
I was terrified before starting just because I didn’t really know Game of Thrones that well. Other people had told me that it was massive, that it was going to change my life. I don’t think it will in the sense that I’m hoping that after it comes out my life isn’t going to change that much, being on the tube or in the supermarket and everything. Maybe I’ll wear a big fake moustache.
How did your casting go down with the fans?
Rosabell: I looked on the Internet before they announced who the new characters were to be. That was really weird because all the actresses the fans were suggesting were completely different from me — tall, blonde, blue-eyed, which of course is what Tyene is like in the book. But since it has been announced everyone has been really nice, really excited.
Jessica: I had a lot of really nice people get in contact with me.
How have the Sand Snakes been getting on in real life?
Rosabell: We were super lucky, I think. We kept saying the whole time, ‘Oh my God I’m so glad it’s you and not someone snobby.’
Jessica: All three of us have really got on. All three of us are so different: you’ve got Keisha [Castle-Hughes], a Kiwi-Maori, and then you’ve got Rosabell from Rome, you’ve got a Singaporean-Brit —it’s like we couldn’t be any more diverse. But there were no barriers, we just got on instantly.
So let’s build some barriers: which of the Sand Snakes would win in a fight you think?
Rosabell: Between you and Obara, Obara just would.
Jessica: I think Nymeria would let Obara win.
Rosabell: Mind you, I could poison them both!
Do you think the Sand Snakes will be able to demolish the Lannisters? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org
Game of Thrones Season 5 will premiere in India simultaneously with the US premiere on April 13 at 6.30am, with a repeat telecast at 10pm,
on HBO Defined
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