#34 – How Hodor Became the Heart of “Game of Thrones”

September 04, 2015

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When Kristian Nairn received the casting call for a role in which he would only utter one word over and over, he was ambivalent. “Do I really want to do this?” he asked himself, feeling apprehensive about playing a mentally handicapped giant who can only say “Hodor.” Fans of Game of Thrones can thank Nairn’s mother who, as a fan of George R. R. Martin’s novels, convinced him to take the role.

There’s fan art, a smartphone app, GIFs, supercuts, and even a joke in the official Google search results for “Hodor.” “That stuff really takes me to the fair,” Nairn says of his Hodor’s second life online. “I just think the character is endearing. Out of all the people in Westeros who are trying to cut each other’s throats, he’s really a pure soul – the only warm, fuzzy feeling you’re going to get.”

Nairn is well-aware of how much power he yields as the actor behind the most beloved character on the most pirated TV show of all time – the internet’s favorite TV show. He’s using his unique position to promote his other passion: house music. When Nairn isn’t shooting Game of Thrones in Ireland, he’s touring the planet spinning house. It’s a grueling schedule that has taken its toll. “I had to stop at one stage there because I was going to die. I hadn’t been home for nearly seven months.” 

Nairn is still touring regularly, but in smaller bursts. And he’s embracing the world’s bottomless enthusiasm for his other gig. His tour is titled “Rave of Thrones” and fans are encouraged to come dressed up as their favorite characters from the show. “Don’t blame me for that,” Nairn says, acknowledging the theme wasn’t his idea. “People are going to think you’re some twat,” he says. “I have this opportunity to have a supercharged DJ career. Who in their right mind is going to say, ‘No, I don’t think so.’”


Nairn has had more time to focus on music in the past few years as his character’s storyline has been put on hold by Game of Thrones’ writers. “I missed him last year. I missed the costume, even though it smells,” Nairn says, pointing out that his woolen getup reeks of death. After an episode featuring Hodor and his gang slaughtering rabbits, the wardrobe department covered his already-thick costume in rabbit carcasses. “If you look closely, you’ll see little rabbit feet and asses. There’s ears and stuff hanging off the costume. There are little faces. It lives in props and you can literally smell it before you see it.”