We’re more than halfway done with Game of Thrones Season 6, and while there have been some memorable moments, nothing seems to have lit the internet on fire like Tormund Giantsbane’s instant crush on Brienne of Tarth. Actor Kristofer Hivju chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about the genesis of that infatuation, as well as what else is on Tormund’s plate for the rest of the season.
Apparently, Hivju has been wanting something like this for Tormund for a while. “I asked David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] about this last season,” he said.
"“Who is Tormund with? Where is his wife? Where are his kids?” Because we went to Hardhome, and since I’ve been talking about my kids, then there’s probably a wife. But they said to me, “He’s probably more of a bachelor kind of guy.” (Laughs.) So when I read the [scenes with Brienne], I was like, “Yes! Finally! There’s a love interest!”"
Maybe Tormund’s wife died? Lord knows there are enough dangers north of the Wall. In any case, Tormund’s attraction to Brienne is instantaneous, as anyone who saw “Book of the Stranger” could tell you.
"I don’t think Tormund differentiates between love and lust. That’s one thing to him. It’s one big bowl of nice things to him. (Laughs.) It’s definitely “love-lust at first sight”…But the great thing about them is, if they fought, you don’t know who would win. That’s a great start of a relationship."
Hivju confirmed that Brienne’s strength is part of what attracts Tormund. Their instant chemistry has certainly captivated fans, and it might have something to do with the chemistry between Hivju and actress Gwendoline Christie. As Hivju says, “We’re similar actually, me and Gwen. We don’t go silent in the halls. If we are in the room, you will hear us, and you will feel us. We take up a lot of space, both of us. When you have both of us in the same room, it’s almost like there’s no more space for anybody.”
With Brienne leaving for the Riverlands, it’s unlikely the two will meet again this season, but if Benioff and Weiss listen at all to the fans, they’ll find a way to give these kids at least one more meet-up before the show is over.
But there’s more than romance in Tormund’s future. There’s a fight brewing in the North, and at the moment, Tormund “supports Jon fully and without question,” in part because he respects Jon as a leader, in part because he knows the White Walker threat is real and that Jon wants to stop it, and in part because if he doesn’t support Jon, Ramsay Bolton will wipe the remaining wildlings out.
"These 2,000 warriors with their families, it’s the rest of the Free Folk. If they die, there is no Free Folk. They have some places to stay right now. They’re in The Gift. But even in episode four, Ramsay Bolton was threatening all of these people. When you enter Westeros, you have to play the game."
According to Hivju, Tormund never thought he would be playing the game. He was happy to help Mance Rayder lead, but now that Mance is gone, Tormund finds himself thrust into a leadership role—you can see him giving a stump speech to a bunch of wildlings in the trailer for this Sunday’s episode, “The Broken Man.” “I think it’s growing on him,” Hivju said. Still, time is not on his side.
"[T]he Free Folk are the hardest people in the world to lead — or at least in this world. It’s in the definition of who they are. They’re the Free Folk. So I can say this: Mance Rayder spent how long, 19 years to gather them all? I don’t have 19 years. (Laughs.) I have less than 19 minutes!"
Head to The Hollywood Reporter for more with Hivju.
Sticking with actors who play Northern characters, The Independent caught up with Iwan Rheon, who plays the traitorous Ramsay Bolton, who’s been oddly quiet for the past two episodes. It seems that Rheon is still getting hate for Ramsay’s rape of Sansa Stark last season, one of the most controversial moments in a series famous for them.
"I understand why the reaction’s there because people have watched this girl grow up and they love her. But at the same time there was such an intense backlash about it, and it isn’t the worst thing that’s happened on Game of Thrones. You know, burning a child… nobody seems to go mad about that."
He says he first realized the depth of fans’ feelings for Sansa during the Season 6 premiere screening in Los Angeles. “There were a lot of fans there watching,” he says. “In that moment in episode one when Brienne finally rescues her, there was a big cheer and you felt the collective relief.”
"I think it’s great for her to get that empowerment back. It’s great for Alfie [Alfie Allen, Lily Allen’s brother] as well, who plays Theon to finally get out of the clutches of Ramsay, and it’s nice for him not to be tortured all the time."
When prompted, Rheon was smart enough not to reveal whether his character will appear in Season 7, but did say that, should Ramsay ever die on the show, it better be epic. “It would be a shame if he just fell down some stairs or something,” he said.
Looking toward his career post-Game of Thrones, the actor doesn’t want to be typecast, even as scripts for psychopathic roles flow in. He may have to tackle that one step at a time, though, as his next big movie role is in the satirical Adolf the Artist as…a young Adolf Hitler. Why ever would producers think of him for that part?