Kristian Nairn only ever had one line on Game of Thrones, but that’s all it takes to become a fan favorite. Across five seasons, Hodor wormed his way into fans’ hearts, and then ripped them out when he died tragically in the season 6 episode “The Door.” In a wide-ranging interview with HuffPost, Nairn gave his take on what exactly happened to Hodor during that crucial, time-bending scene, and teased a possible return while he was at it. “I think it’s so well done,” he said of his final episode, “and you also have that little bit of mystery at the end because you don’t actually see him die. Is he dead? Who knows?”
I think the whole ambiguity of it is part of the fun. People want these rational explanations, and I’m like, “You know these things don’t actually happen in real life?” Maybe someone waved a wand somewhere and said expelliarmus, and it just happens. … Gandalf stuck his fucking staff in the ground and said, “You shall not pass.”
What I think is, I don’t even know…I just think that when [Bran] was warged into the past, he obviously could see Hodor as a child. And when Meera Reed was meaning him to warg into Hodor, he kind of warged into both [Hodor and young Hodor] and he connected them both over this huge time fucking vortex and probably fried Hodor’s brain. He connected them both, and I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to happen. What is it Emmett Brown says [in “Back to the Future”]? Flux capacitor? But it’s a big bang inside Hodor’s head. That’s my theory.
If you had a big bang happen in your head, you’d be lucky to still be able to say two syllables, I’m sure.
But let’s go back to that bit about us never seeing Hodor die. Is Nairn trying to say that Hodor could still be out there? Would Nairn be open to returning to the show? “Heck yeah,” he said. “I need the money, man. [Laughs] No, anything to still be a part of that show. You never know.”
But you do know! Did showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss ask Nairn to come back for season 8? “I’m not gonna tell you that. Nice try.” Damn. He did note that the Game of Thrones set is “right down the road from my house [in Belfast],” though.
Personally, I think Nairn is just having fun here, but then again…when it comes to Game of Thrones, you never really do know. If he does back, I’m betting it’ll be for a cameo as a decrepit wight. That seems like the sort of turn of the knife these guys go for.
Going back to the beginning, Nairn recounted how he didn’t really know what he was doing during his audition for Hodor.
I didn’t understand what the part was. That was the second proper audition I’ve ever done, and I didn’t understand what the character was about then. Someone just said, “This guy can only say ‘Hodor,’” and I’m like, “What? What? Why?” They’re like, “We don’t know,” and I’m like, “Give me some backstory.” No one knows, so I just did my interpretation of it, I guess, and they liked it.
I guess they did; the producers gave him the part after meeting him just once. You can watch his audition here:
The kid he’s with, incidentally, was apparently up for the part of Bran, but obviously didn’t get it. “I think it was his mother’s 40th birthday or something, and we just crashed the party, and it was like, ‘We need to use your garden and your child.'” So I didn’t know what the fuck was happening.
From there, it was years of carrying a young Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) on his back. Of course, no one had any idea how big Wright would get — notice that, by season 6, Hodor only carried Bran behind him on a sled — least of all Nairn. Happily, the show had ways around breaking his back:
We had doubles … we had a double for Bran who’s name was Samantha, a smaller girl, and we had a double for Hodor as well for wide shots, which is really strange. It’s always like 10 miles away. I’m like, “Really? Is it the same postman?” But we used those for wide shots and sometimes your body would just stop working, and they’d do it from behind or something. Sam was a lot lighter than Isaac. Her legs were a lot shorter.
By the sound of it, the two of them had a fun time on set…well, fun if you were there. For example, Wright would sing the theme to Spongebob Squarepants right into Nairn’s personal space. “He’d just sing into my ear, and he can’t sing worth shit. It’s just repetition, repetition, repetition. Drove me crazy, man. When a kid realizes you’ve got like a trigger switch … yeah, lucky me.”
Just this, over and over:
That’s drive anyone to sacrifice themselves to a pack of ravenous wights.
But seriously, it doesn’t sound like there’s any love lost between the two actors. “We still talk a lot at least once every two weeks or whatever, but I’m not the cool uncle anymore. It’s gotten to the age now where some of the things he tells me, I’m like, ‘Isaac! C’mon!’ He’s 19 now. I just want to slap him. I’m like, ‘C’mon.’ That’s my experience. I can’t do ‘I’m so cool.’ I can’t do that anymore. I get more and more parental.”
Oh, those two.
Nairn had a lot of other things to say. Some highlights:
- Do people often hold the door for you? “More often, they want me to hold the door for them. I never expected the kind of response I’ve had. Every day, I get emotions from people. They still cry. It feels like it just happened the other day!”
- On the many ways to say “Hodor”: “[S]omewhere in the world there was a [soundboard] of, I think, me saying it 75 different ways, which we had to do for ADR. That was terrible, man. They’re just like, ‘Stand there for 15 minutes and do it different every time.’ And I’m like, ‘What? C’mon.’ He’s such a reactionary character. He’s reacting to everything happening around him, and then you’re stuck in a little black studio, and I have nothing to react to.”
- Did you know that Nairn once did drag as a character named DJ Revlon? He did, although he thinks his drag queen days are mostly over. “While I love drag and admire what it does for people ― and what it did for me was unbelievable ― I was ready to be me. I’m not saying I’ll never do it again. … I’m such a big fan of ‘Drag Race.’ Every time I watch it, I’m going, ‘I’d slay all you bitches.’”
- On using the dating app Scruff: “People never believe it’s me. They’re just like, ‘Haha. What are you using Hodor or Kristian Nairn’s photograph for?’”
- On his worst experience with a fan: “I think the worst [response] I got was, ‘I hope your character dies and you die in real life.’ And I’m like, ‘Thanks, girl.’” At the end of the day, he doesn’t care about nasty comments much. “They’re not going to have the balls to say that to my face.” Hell no, they won’t; he’s 7’0”.
- Nairn isn’t a fan of celebrity cameos on Game of Thrones, “[e]specially Ed Sheeran…I’m not saying I’m not a fan of Ed Sheeran. I’m being tactful here, but just not a fan of the cameo…It was a big snap to reality. It’s like, ‘What? What?’ It’s a fantasy show. We’re all caught in this amazing world and spend so much time and money and talent to create, and all of a sudden there’s a pop star?“
Finally, here’s Nairn jamming with Megadeath:
Rock on, Hodor.