Updated: December 5, 2015 1:15:23 pm
For an actor who is restricted to a two-syllable word for the entirety of a TV series, Kristian Nairn is both erudite and eloquent. As we settle across the gigantic man who essays the role of Hodor on HBO’s Game of Thrones, one of the most popular TV shows in the world, one of his first questions is about the status of gay rights in India. “I read about it on the flight over but I was a bit puzzled by the contradictory accounts,” says the 40-year-old North Irishman, who finds himself a champion for the movement by default. “I wouldn’t say I’m an activist by choice. It’s bewildering to me that we need a movement because, according to me, every person is the same; we’re all people. I recognise that, while I was fortunate enough to grow up without any discrimination or stigma attached at all, other people haven’t been so lucky,” he adds.
As for Hodor, the simple-minded stable boy and de facto tutelary of young Bran Stark, one of the protagonists of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, on which the TV series is based, Nairn has his own fantasy tale on how he got the role. “I had actually sent an audition tape for Simon Pegg’s movie Hot Fuzz, which came to nothing. Four years after the film released, out of nowhere, I got a call saying the producers of Game of Thrones wanted me to play Hodor after they had seen that particular tape,” he says.
Despite having acted in other sci-fi and fantasy series before, the role of Hodor was particularly challenging, considering he had to emote his entire character through two syllables, “Ho-Dor”. “When the director says, ‘make it a little less happier, more serious’ in my head I’d be going ‘how do I do that with one word’,” he says, while admitting it was a life-changing experience in the best possible way.
Despite being 6’10” tall, Nairn admits the shooting schedule is physically gruelling. But he’s glad that his shoots are restricted to his native Ireland, as opposed to sets in Croatia and Scandinavia.
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This is because his other role in life is that of a progressive electronic DJ, a rather celebrated one. Apart from touring with international acts as diverse as Scissor Sisters and Calvin Harris, Nairn has also been the resident DJ of Kremlin, a leading club in Dublin, as well as a producer of his music. “Earlier I used to shoot for the show during the day and play at clubs in the night. Now it’s become too tiring,” says Nairn, perhaps subtly hinting at the future twists in the show.
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