The premiere date of the eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones has just been announced (it’s April 15!).
As fans gear up to see what happens to the various houses fighting for the ultimate seat – the Iron Throne – there is one character whose passing is still mourned even though he left in the middle of Season Six.
And that is the gentle giant Hodor – who died holding the door shut with all his might from the unstoppable army of the undead that wanted to capture Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright).
Northern Irish actor Kristian Nairn, who was in Singapore recently for a DJ gig, recalled an encounter with a fan after his departure from the show.
“I was on a flight, and this lady – maybe in her 50s – made her way to me and said, ‘You made me cry. You made me cry for three days.’
“That’s the reaction I get most of the time of late, and I never know what to say … do I say thank you or do I apologise?” shared Nairn in a phone interview.
For six seasons, Nairn – who stands at 2.13m – played the faithful servant to the Stark family. Hodor’s main job is to help Bran – who is paralysed from waist down – to move about.
What is truly unique about Hodor is that the character only utters one word throughout the six seasons, and that is Hodor (which has resulted in all sorts of gifs, videos and memes).
In his final moment, the viewers find out what Hodor really means and it’s an anguishing revelation: Hodor came about because he kept repeating the words “Hold the door” during a trance as a child after seeing a vision of his death till all he could say was the shortened version of that sentence.
According to Nairn, he had no idea what Hodor meant while playing the character.
“I remember over the years, I have asked the showrunners (David Benioff and Dan Weiss) and (author) George R.R. Martin what Hodor meant, but they would never tell me.
“So, I had my own theory – that he was a Clegane, because he’s big like Gregor and Sandor Clegane – which was completely wrong.
“I was surprised just like everyone else when I found out what Hodor meant. But I never expected the reaction that came from all over the world,” said Nairn, 43, of the fan-favourite episode titled Hold The Door. Even without many clues on the character’s backstory, Nairn was eager to tackle Hodor as an actor because it was both a challenging and fun role to portray.
“The key to playing Hodor is just being real – you really have to put yourself into the situation because you don’t have words to express yourself. You really had to immerse yourself into the reality of the scene and put in your body language with having just one word (to speak).
“It was challenging in some ways but David and Dan told me, ‘You’re gonna be one of the fan favourites of the show’, and this was before we even started. I didn’t really understand; I was like ‘Really? But he just says one word, guys.’ But they turned out to be right.”
Since leaving the show, Nairn has been focusing on his career as a DJ – spinning his own mix which sometimes includes his version of the Game Of Thrones theme. He has also landed a guest role in TV series The Rookie and starred in horror flick The Appearance.
“I love fantasy roles, sci-fi stuff. But I am up for anything. I will never do a part like Hodor again … I definitely have too much to say,” mentioned Nairn with a chuckle.
When asked if there is a chance of Hodor coming back on the show as an undead, Nairn answered in jest: “(If I do) I’d love to bite Bran’s head off – he didn’t treat me very well; he asked me to hold the door (laughs). I am perfectly happy to go back and cause some havoc if they wanted me to.”
While he steered clear of commenting about the final season – other than stating his wish to see the character Brienne Tarth as Queen of Westeros (“I bet she’d be a fair and strong leader”) – Nairn confessed that he is both excited and sad to watch the last six episodes of the show.
“It’s hard to imagine a world without Game Of Thrones. There are other stuff happening in the background (a prequel is planned), but the original Game Of Thrones is over and I think it’s very sad. But life moves on, I guess.”
Game Of Thrones Season Eight premieres on April 15 at 9am on HBO (Astro Ch 411).