This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
Even after seven seasons of pain and bloodshed, the death of Eddard Stark on Game of Thrones still stings.
Played by Sean Bean, Ned was originally positioned as the closest thing the expansive fantasy series had to a main character, making it extra devastating and effective when he met his maker at the end of season one.
Since the death of the Stark patriarch, fans have speculated as to what the character whispered in his last moments before the blade came down. With none of his last words being audible and the books providing no illumination, viewers have been left with only their own guesses.
There have been many theories as to what the former head of the house of Stark may have been saying as he shuffled off this mortal coil, from the obvious possibility of the series’ favorite aphorism valar morghulis (“all men must die”) to more bonkers, plot-specific suggestions. Could “Jon-Snow-is-actually-not-my-bastard-son-he-is-my-sister’s-son-with-Rhaegar-and-this-is-going-to-be-very-very-important-in-six-seasons-hrrk” fit? Because that was our theory — until now.
Speaking in an interview with Huffington Post, Sean Bean finally revealed Ned’s last words not to be an important message with grand implications for the series’ plot, but rather a simple, quiet prayer.
“It appears that way, doesn’t it?” Bean said, referring to the footage of Ned’s death, which is still one of the most shocking and downright depressing moments in the whole miserable series.
“I couldn’t be too specific, because I don’t know if religion [like that] was around in those days, whatever they were,” Bean continued. “I just thought, ‘What would you do if this were really gonna happen?’ You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you’d keep it quiet. You’d keep it to yourself.”
According to Bean, he didn’t set out to give fans something to speculate on, saying he only spoke during the scene because it felt right for the character.
“It’s quite subtle in that many people wouldn’t pick it up,” Bean said. “It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There’s not much you can do really, you’ve got your head on a block. That’s about the only thing you can do is murmur.”
Amusingly, the interview also confirmed that Bean has indeed seen all of the online talk regarding his many onscreen demises, including a rundown from The Nerdist that puts the actor’s onscreen death count just behind the oft-murdered Kenny from South Park. According to the actor, he’s pleased people are amused at the unusual niche he’s carved out.
“Oh, I’ll have to get some jobs. Some dying jobs,” Bean said. “Yeah, I’m quite pleased with that. I don’t mind being slightly behind a cartoon character.”
Bean can currently be seen in his new series The Oath, a ten-episode drama from executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson about the deadly overlap of criminal gangs and the police. All episodes of the series are available on Crackle — check out the teaser down below.