Game of Thrones: Hodor actor Kristian Nairn talks season 7 and DJing under Rave of Thrones

The half-man, half-giant spoke about his emotional send-off from the HBO show

Jack Shepherd@JackJShepherd
Monday 04 July 2016 17:14
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One of the most emotional moments of season six of Game of Thrones was undoubtedly the death of our beloved Hodor. The lovable half-man, half-giant defended Bran until the very end, sacrificing himself to save the young Stark.

In a candid interview with The Independent following season six's finale, actor Kristian Nairn discussed his characters emotional finale while promoting his Rave of Thrones tour.

Highlights from the half-hour phone discussion include talking about returning as a White Walker, predictions on how the show will end, the spectacular fan response to his death, and trying to figure out how the show's time-travelling paradox will play out.

Hi, Kristian. Game of Thrones finished last week, have you seen it yet?

I haven’t actually seen it yet! I know what happens, though.

It’s a killer episode, it was great.

There have been quite a few killer episodes, ‘killer’ being the optimum word. That was a big one, one of the biggest death counts so far. What an incredible way to end out the season.

The showrunners mentality at the moment seems to be to kill everyone and move on, especially when you consider Margaery Tyrell, the High Sparrow - all these big players - died in one explosion.

They didn’t even wait until the end, they just did it at the beginning of the episode so they could deal with the aftermath. Such a cool way to do things, I have a lot of admiration for David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss]'s courage to structure episodes that way.

It’s become particularly apparent this season, with so many people dying.

I don’t know if it was George [RR Martin]’s plan. I don’t think he plans on keeping many people alive, so we have to keep up somehow.

They’ve said there are only two seasons left which isn’t a whole lot of time to wrap things up.

We’re definitely coming up to the climax, which is fairly obvious now we’ve seen Khaleesi sailing towards Westeros. That’s an important part of the story, one that will kick in the end game.

What do you think is going to happen?

I have so many theories, but I think in the end the Iron Throne isn’t even going to be an issue. It’s going to be wiped out in this war between fire and ice. Most people are going to end up dead. This is just my theory, of course, but when the majority end up dead, the Iron Throne will probably have to be melted down to use for metal. It’s going to be completely irrelevant, it’s going to be a death bed. In the end, it’s just going to be one big bloody battleground. I just don’t know how they’re going to beat the Night King when he has the power to resurrect. What do you do against that?

It’s going to be a big finish no matter what happens.

It really is and I can’t wait to find out how it ends.

You speak very passionately about the show, you must be a big fan?

From being so close to it for so many years. Close to the cast and the crew. It’s been an integral part of my life. So, of course, I’m a big fan, and it’s going to be incredible to see it finish.

Have you always been a fan of the genre?

Yes! I’ve always been a fan of Dungeons and Dragons. A bit of a fantasy nerd. Maybe more high fantasy, like wizards and unicorns, fairies. I like that sort of thing, it’s maybe more my kind of bag rather than the realism. But I still like that, and that’s probably why the show has been so popular.

It’s incredible to think how popular it is, because if someone said a show about swords and shields, dragons and White Walkers, would be a worldwide success, they’d think you were mad.

You would think it was very niche. They’ve definitely blown the doors off a bit.

I imagine it will pave the way for many shows like it to come

Yeah, I would imagine so, but it’s such a high-quality production that it’s going to have to be good to follow it. Not to name any names, but there have already been a couple of shows which have been labelled the new Game of Thrones, or ‘if you like Game of Thrones you’ll like this’, but they just haven’t been anywhere close. It’s a bit sad really. You’re really going to have to be of a high quality. That’s the thing, we’re taking from these incredible books, which is a huge advantage over stuff that has just been written for TV. Maybe if they find a new series of books too. There’s a series of books by David Gemmell which started off with a book called Legend, and that would be an incredible storyline if they could somehow adopt that. He’s another one of the great science fiction writers who was one of George’s peers. It would be interesting to see what that would be like.

It’s funny you say there are intimidations that haven’t worked because the same has happened with Breaking Bad, a lot of people things tried to copy that series but they weren’t of the same calibre.

Breaking Bad is a groundbreaking show, as is Game of Thrones. And, I’m sorry to say, but once that ground is broken, it’s already broken. If someone comes along and tries to copy it, it’s a bit crass. Someone already had the balls to have an eight-year-old child to say the C-word on TV - we’ve already done that, so it’s going to be weird if someone else does it.

Something new will have to come along, it always does.

That’s what worries me about the shock factor, as Game of Thrones has done so much, just what are they going to do next? They’ve had some pretty strong stuff.

Now that you’ve finished Game of Thrones, do you know what you’re doing next? You’re on this Rave of Thrones tour.

I’ve been on this tour for two years now and haven’t stopped.

It’s cool that you’ve fully embraced the Game of Thrones thing where many people try to leave projects behind and disassociate themselves.

The thing is, it happened during the Game of Thrones thing. I wasn’t like ‘Oh, f*ck it, I need to hang onto this’. It was because, I was a resident DJ in Belfast, and I was there for 15, 16 years before the show started. I fully recognise that the factor that keeps me out of the local clubs and into the bigger venues isn’t the fact I’m playing a particular type of music, it’s because of Game of Thrones. People are starting to recognise me because I am a good DJ, and I’m not afraid to acknowledge that it’s because of Game of Thrones that I’m here. It’s silly not to.

What will happen once the excitement around Game of Thrones has died down? Do you think Rave of Thrones will continue?

It’s not my plan for it to continue, it never was. I reckon, maybe a year, another two years, and I’ll probably drop it. It’s just while people want it. I’ll continue to write music but I’m busy with other projects. I don’t even know how to begin telling you how busy we are. There’s not as much worry about where the next jobs going to be.

I imagine the crowds at your Rave of Thrones events are quite fun.

They’re very fun. It’s always a very good bunch of people.

They must all love that you're Hodor.

Oh yeah! It varies from city to city and country to country. Some people get into the fancy dress thing big time, some people don’t. It’s crazy to see how much things vary. That’s the great thing about seeing so many different countries and cultures. For people to differ, it’s really interesting.

What kind of music do you play? I’ve read that it’s ‘deep house’.

It’s not 'deep house'. Deep house was just the dubstep of last year. It was used to cover about four different genres, just a safe word for people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. It was tech house, electro, more progressive house, all sorts of genres. Deep house was the key word of last year.

What’s the key word of this year?

That’s interesting. Because nothing for me has really evolved yet. It’s very varied, which is good. To be honest, while I was a resident DJ I was 100% on the pulse of what’s happening and now I’m just playing what I want to play, which is great. The music scene is just so varied. Dance music is getting pretty big again and the whole deep house music has definitely helped.

So, what do you play at your current Rave of Thrones sets? In my head, I’m thinking remixes of the Game of Thrones theme song.

You wouldn’t believe how much it varies from club to club. It’s always going to be house music. I did a bootleg of the Game of Thrones remix, which someone transcribed into 8-bit tune. Sounds like something coming out of an N-64 or a computer playing it, and I like to do that for 30-seconds right in the middle. People lose their sh*t, and then I get on with what I was doing.

It all sounds like a lot of fun!

It is fun. But ask me in six months time and ask me how fun it is then. At the end of the day, I’m very grateful to the people who come to the shows, and to Game of Thrones, because without that I wouldn’t be where I am. I’d be bored and grumpy.

Is there a plan to return to acting in the near future?

Definitely, there are a number of things, none of which I can really talk about. A couple of movies, a TV show, a couple of advertising campaigns. I’m just really busy and still trying to get my head around it.

That ‘hold the door’ scene, with all that emotion behind those few minutes, it's sent your character and yourself into the show's spotlight?

It has. I’m set to appear on one of those wrap-up shows on Sky, which is a bit of an honour considering all the people who died. It’s nice to be thought of that way.

What has the response been like to that scene?

The response has been incredible. The day that show went out, I’ve never witnessed anything like it on my phone. I think I got something like 76,000 Tweets that night. It was just unbelievable. People were genuinely sad, in a different way, because it wasn’t the usual ‘someone got their head cut off, boo hoo it’s Game of Thrones’. I think because it was linked to this tragedy, a feeling of this character who has always been there leaving. People have always liked Hodor and all of a sudden he’s gone. He did it in such a noble way and it has really caught people’s imagination. I was so happy because, when I first found out about it, I was like ‘Oh sh*t, that’s not good’. Then, when I read the scene, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go.

There were a lot of elements to the scene, especially when you consider that the moment was always destined to happen.

It’s some weird time-loop.

How did you get your head around the time-loop?

I’m not sure I have. It’s hard to understand, because it, fortunately, doesn’t happen in real life, but it’s all from the imagination of these producers. I kinda had to take a step back and say ‘What!’ I think I understand that Bran was using his powers recklessly, and he’s almost short-circuited young Hodor’s brain by trying to Warg across time which is not supposed to be done. There are all these theories, but I don’t know anything more than you do about it.

With Bran’s time travelling, it is inevitably going to play a massive part in what is to come.

When you think about how important that could be, he could change anything. He can go back and influence things in the past and it could be devastating or it could be remarkably useful.

When you think what happened to Hodor, it seems like Bran can’t actually influence things. Because, whatever he influences, has already happened. It’s difficult to explain.

You have that thing, but it only happened because he was there. It’s all theoretical; was that always going to happen to Hodor? Was that always predestined to happen? Or did Bran just f*ck up? But was him f*cking up always happen? Was it supposed to happen? It’s mind-boggling.

It is! It’s spurred on thousands of theories. There’s one about Bran causing the mad king to go mad through his time travelling whispers.

That’s a cool theory, I like that one a lot. It’s down the rabbit hole. I love all that stuff, I think it’s really interesting.

To me, it shows that Game of Thrones is perhaps going down that more fantastical route, they’re embracing that aspect more.

You get to see more of the dragons, more of the White Walkers. A lot of people want that, because it’s been building series one, two, three, four, and people want to see more of them.

‘I just knew there was no way he was going to make it to the end,’ Kristian Nairn said of his character Hodor (HBO

On that note, will you be back as a White Walker?

I have no idea! As much as I would like to come back and play a White Walker, I think it would be wrong. There are too many emotions tied up, it would be a bit of a travesty to bring him back. If they’re going to do it, I’m sure they’d find a really cool way to do it. Whatever happens, it’s probably not going to end well. A zombie Hodor is not a pretty thought.

When you were filming the 'hold the door’ scene, what were emotions like on set?

You have to remember, that scene was filmed in four different locations, so there wasn’t just 15 minutes of holding the door. We used seven different doors. But, on the final day, it was incredibly emotional. Isaac was there and was giving the job of wrapping me, which he did. He was given the megaphone and said ‘That’s it for the day Nairn, that’s a wrap’. There’s a gif online of us having a big hug, which was definitely emotional. It’s just sad not to see everybody. The one benefit I have is that they’re filming in Belfast, so when they’re here I can be around when I’m not working.

There are going to be so many online rumours about Hodor being back if that happens

Most people know I’m a Belfast guy, but I have thought of it. I can imagine Dave and Dan being like you can’t be friends anymore.

It would be an amazing way to mess with fans.

I’d definitely be up for that! The fans are amazing. After ‘The Door’ aired, the reaction was amazing. The beautiful artwork they had drawn, it has just been incredible. I knew it was going to be because the scene was so well executed. I’ve just been blown away.

You must get a lot of ‘hold the door’ jokes. Surely, it's getting a little old by now?

I can only be grateful for that because, I get to tour the world, I have a new house, if the cost of that is to have some guy shout ‘Hold the Door’ in Tesco every now and then it’s worth it. People used to not believe I was actual DJ and ask whether I was cashing in on the Game of Thrones thing, and I was like ‘Well, duh! Wouldn’t you?’ I’ll probably hear ‘Hold the Door’ for the rest of my life, and for the rest of my life I’m going to be known as this character on the groundbreaking show. I can’t get annoyed. The next thing you’re going to see is a video of me online, with someone in Tesco telling me to ‘hold the door’ and me telling them to ‘f*ck off’.

Catch Kristian Nairn play the UK Tour of Rave of Thrones in London- 15th July at QUBE, and Dublin- 16th July at The Tivoli Theatre. For more information and tickets please visit here.

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