As the epic series approaches its grand finale, its creators have praised the productivity, empathy and talents of one of Game of Thrones’ unsung heroes – Bernadette Caulfield.
Grappling with multi-million-dollar budgets and complex operations across multiple countries is all in a day’s work for Bernadette Caulfield, an Emmy-winning television producer.
Working as executive producer alongside David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creative duo credited with bringing George RR Martin’s worlds of ice and fire to the small screen, Caulfield is considered a behind-the-scenes star at HBO’s super production. When the pair hit the stage before the world premiere of the first episode in Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season at Radio City Music Hall earlier this year, they took the time to thank Bernadette Caulfield.
Although Caulfield’s name is surprisingly little known considering the attention paid to almost every aspect of the hugely successful fantasy saga, she was described by Benioff and Weiss as “the single best thing that ever happened to the show”.
The greatest producer alive
Caulfield had worked on supernatural drama series The X-Files and the HBO drama series Big Love before moving on to Game of Thrones. Having been nominated for an Emmy Award for HBO’s Big Love, she went on to win two Emmys for Game of Thrones. At the eighth-season premiere, Benioff said, “we only made it this far because of Bernadette Caulfield, the greatest producer alive.”
For Caulfield, however, the credits go to the huge team behind the series. But Benioff and Weiss insist she is the linchpin who held it all together: “without her, the whole thing would have collapsed under its own weight long ago.”
Elaborated scenarios and complex scenes have made the series one of the most technically complicated ever. On Game of Thrones, Caulfield’s job to “hold things together” was particularly difficult; with five film crews working simultaneously, often on different continents, at any one time – the team employed more than 13,000 extras just in Northern Ireland.
Highly productive, highly empathetic
Caulfield joined the Games of Thrones crew in time to start season two – replacing first-series producer Mark Huffam. Over time, the budgets and ambition of the series grew – and Caulfield scaled operations up to meet the demands.
“She created a production that could effectively scale up from season to season without losing either its efficiency or heart,” said Benioff and Weiss.
The strong sense of the heart of the show comes from Caulfield herself, according to the stars who worked on the series. Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, describes Caulfied as “the beating heart of our show”.
And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau told New York Times magazine about the time the producer rescued him from an on-set tantrum: “Suddenly she was next to me very gently saying ‘hey, are you ok?’ and just the way she said that made me look at myself from the outside and see that I was about to turn into one of those horrible actors.”
It’s this mix of empathy and her organisational skills of a level as jaw-dropping as any Game of Thrones scene that has created such a winning combination in this real-life hero of the fantasy saga.