Did Gwendolyn Christie and Bart the Bear film together? Curious minds want to know!

Bart the Bear II is trained by the same people who handled Bart the Bear (1977-2000.) Bart is 8 feet 6 inches hight and weights 1,100 lbs. Bart's website lists the behaviors that Bart does on cue. He also serves as Ambassador Bear for Vital Ground Foundation.

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I found conflicting info on how the "Brienne fights the bear" scene was done while chiming in the Animal Movie Stars article. The GoT wiki says the bear scene was filmed separately, Bart in LA, Christie in Northern Ireland, crediting winteriscoming.net as a source —the video at that source doesn't play for me, someone please tell us if it adds any info.

However, David Benioff said they flew actors to LA to film with Bart. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau talks about filming with the bear:

You mentioned the bear, so I wanted to ask about when you went to California to shoot the stuff with Bart.

Yes, Bart the Bear the Second. I didn't know there was a First, but he's the Second. It was crazy! Most of the scene was shot with all the extras in Belfast in October of last year, and then we came out in January to shoot with the bear. To be on the set with an animal that size and that smell is quite extraordinary. And to see what the trainers could make him do. It's really surprising.

Now, this is a trained bear, and there are handlers and controlled conditions, but you're jumping into a pit with a giant bear.

(laughs) The way they control it is there's a tiny little wire that goes across between the set and the cameras and the crew. Just a tiny wire. And there's a little battery in the end of it. So if you hit it, you're going to get electrocuted with like 9 volts. That's what keeps the bear in place. If the bear was upset or something, that wouldn't stop him. He would just go. Once they brought Bart out, we all had to stay where we were. You couldn't leave, you couldn't arrive, couldn't eat anything. Everybody had one job, which was one job: we had to cheer and applaud Bart constantly. To make him go onset, we had to go, 'Bart, you're the best! Good boy! That's a good boy!' And as soon as you yell cut, there would be cheers and applause, you could see Bart, he was kind of looking out, sniffing the air, and then they would throw some fish at him. It was amazing. I think I've only worked with a few actors like that before, but he was one of the biggest divas.

GRRM writes in his blog:

Jan. 25th, 2013 08:03 am (UTC)

You guys are smarter than the average bear, plainly.

Yes, it's BART THE BEAR.

Or rather, Bart the Second. The original Bart, that nine foot tall star of stage and screen, has departed for the great forest in the sky. So Jaime and Brienne get to play with his heir and namesake.

Mixing animal actors with humans who know little about animals may not always be the best idea, regardless if it's a tiny chi or something bigger. It's still nice to see a real bear onscreen even if "tricks" may be used. One of the "tricks" I've personally observed was that the bear "rearing" was silent — bear's asking for the treat, respectfully and without undue excitement. The roar, which potentially could induce way too much excitement for the animals, was added later and it wasn't even "bear noise" but enhanced.

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I'm all in favor of animal welfare, but if we dispense with all working animals in the name of some people's ideas of "animal rights," well then how are these animals supposed to earn money for their expensive keep? They cannot all be "wild," there's no wilderness left! Plus we're learning so much from working with these impressive animals, and that's all ok as long as all working animals have good living conditions and time-off and so on. Being always confined in spaces too small for the species is not ok.