‘It’s not a political statement. It’s just … we had to use what heads we had lying around,’ show runners explain in DVD commentary.
By Gil Kaufman
The George W. Bush prop head on the set of “Game of Thrones”
A lot of heads roll on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Hardly an episode goes by without someone getting forcibly detached from their noggin. But even die-hards who study every scene of the lushly shot show might not have noticed that one of the heads on a spike in the dramatic season one finale looked a bit familiar.
In a scene in which sneery teen King Joffrey is proudly showing his captive wife-to-be Sansa Stark a row of traitors’ heads on spikes, even eagle-eyed viewers may not have seen that one of those craniums belonged to former President George W. Bush.
In the DVD commentary for the first season, show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed, “People may not have noticed this but back up … the last head on the left is George Bush … George Bush’s head appears in a couple of beheading scenes.” And though they said the inclusion of the former commander-in-chief’s head, which sported a long, scraggly wig, was “not a political statement,” and they just had to “use what heads we had lying around,” that explanation didn’t sit well with some fellow Republicans.
“Whether you like him or dislike him, whether you’re of the same political persuasion or not, we still have to respect the office of the presidency and all of those who hold that presidency,” Brooklyn Republican party chairman Craig Eaton said, according to E! Online.
“Americans of all political persuasions should stand up and demand that things like this should not continue. They should boycott watching this particular show … It doesn’t matter what their intent is. They didn’t intend it to be political, but now that it is, they should remove it.”
Once word of the controversy broke, HBO, which is currently airing a loving documentary about Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, was quick to issue an apology. “We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste,” read a statement from the network posted on Deadline Hollywood. “We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologized immediately for this inadvertent careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.”
Benioff and Weiss also issued an apology, explaining how the Bush head ended up in the show. “We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush.”
The pair said that they mentioned this curious fact in the DVD commentary, “though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former President and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”