Rory McCann teases Cleganebowl and reflects on the Hound’s journey


Cleganebowl, the hypothetical battle between Sandor “the Hound” Clegane and his older, bigger, more undead brother Gregor, is a much-hyped event among Game of Thrones fans. The show tossed those fans a bone in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” when Sandor got right up in the Mountain’s face and threatened him. “You know who’s coming for you,” he said. Get hype and so forth.

Star Rory McCann expanded on that moment in a conversation with Huffpost. “He puts it all aside just to go and have a word with his brother,” McCann said, “it” presumably being the reason he was in King’s Landing: to help show off the wight to the lords of the south. “It just shows you it’s still very important to him. It’s still burning away at him, and he hates him.”

But if the Hound and the Mountain ever do throw down, who would come out victorious? Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson seems pretty certain the Mountain would win. McCann disagrees. “There’s absolutely no chance he’ll win. It’s 100 percent that I will win. The Hound will win.”

McCann calls Björnsson’s claims to the contrary “ring talk. I’ve seen that all before. He knows I can still move pretty fast and I’ll be the little Jack Russell around his feet, kicking him in the balls and slapping him on the head…Don’t you worry, I’ve got my ways.”

In fact, McCann says that he’s training for the fight already. And in this case, “training” means raising a punching bag higher off the floor than usual and wailing on it with a stick. Again I say: Get hype.

McCann also weighed in on notable moments from season 7, like the no-hard-feelings conversation he had with Brienne in the season finale. “That was wonderful to connect again. Not too sure about what Brienne’s character has gone through over the years, but The Hound has had a lot of time to think by himself and almost slightly come to peace with himself, and thinks about how he was spared by Arya and he sees something out of that.

"And then meeting Brienne going toward the dragon pit almost felt that it was a joint sort of paternal feeling for Arya, that we were just doing our duties, but she’s turned out all right. She’s turned out more than all right and I think The Hound is proud of her, really … it was a lovely scene. I loved working with Gwendoline. She’s just incredible."

And what, in McCann’s estimation, did Arya learn from her time with the Hound? “Trust no one. Be a good fighter. Keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t talk too much, you can learn from everybody just by listening, and I think The Hound made her a nice little killer.”

My need to see an Arya-Hound reunion grows stronger every day.

Going big picture, McCann looked back on the entirety of the Hound’s journey, from his humble beginnings as a background player to the complicated main character he’s become:

"I still can hardly believe it. I remember the first series or second series I was meant to do a big speech about how I got my face burned and we decided to not do it, and David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] ended up coming in my trailer and said, “Don’t worry. We’re still gonna use this speech. We’re still gonna tell your story, but we’ve got so much going on. We’re just going to bring it in slowly.” I didn’t realize they were going to bring me slowly [in] for the next six years, but it’s just been a wonderful thing. I feel my first job, my first two days on “Game of Thrones,” was “spear carrier with a bit of history potentially,” “spear carrier looking after the king or the king’s son.” And going from that to one of the major characters and delving into his history and who he’s clashing with, it’s just been such a privilege with this. I’ve been going on this arc, this character development. He’s a different character from when he first started, and I don’t think I’ll ever get a job like this again."

How will it all wrap up for the killer-turned-holy warrior? We’ll have to wait for season 8 to be sure, although McCann knows how he’d like the Hound to go out: “Killed in the first episode next year, so I can go up north before the big storm [Laugh].”

But seriously, he has no idea. “Listen, I’ll just do what I’m told. I’m a good dog.”

Next: The budget for each episode of Game of Thrones season 8 is really, really big

Some other fun bits from the interview:

  • Before filming their confrontation in “The Lion and the Wolf,” McCann and Björnsson went out for dinner. When the chef heard that the Mountain was coming to dine, he made sure the 6’9” strongman got “half a town” worth of food on his plate. “He devoured that quite happily. It was quite worrying. The guy is absolutely massive. He’s fed every hour and a half or he’ll go crazy.”
  • McCann was injured on the set of season 7, although for a while he wasn’t able to talk about it. “In reality, it was because of a bloody dragon. I was at the back of that dragon riding it, and I’m no Jean-Claude Van Damme. I can’t do the splits and it’s got one big ass … at least I can tell the truth about that now.”
  • The most important question: why did the Hound throw the rock at that wight? “[Laugh] He’s not too clever. I think he gets bored easily. Maybe he’s not a great talker like the rest of them, so he makes his own entertainment. It was a really, really silly thing to do.”

Finally, we can’t leave without reminding everyone that McCann and other cast members formed an impromptu jam band while filming the sequence north of the Wall.

If you can’t tell from watching that, McCann enjoyed himself. “This is the thing, in the past few years I’ve been a bit of a loner and been very quiet, and it’s the first time I’ve been working with all that cast together, and we’re all in one hotel and we all get on. We all love each other, and I just embraced it instead of hiding this time. I just said enjoy it.”

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