‘Game of Thrones’ star Kristian Nairn: 18 fun facts about the Hodor actor

Paolo Abad
‘Game of Thrones’ star Kristian Nairn: 18 fun facts about the Hodor actor
Kristian Nairn shows that he's way more talkative than his 'Game of Thrones' character Hodor, talking about that 'Hold the door' scene, his music career, his love for 'Warcraft,' and more

MANILA, Philippines – By now, Game of Thrones star Kristian Nairn must’ve been faced with an endless barrage of questions and comments about that door. You know, the one Bran Stark asked Kristian’s character Hodor to “hold” – in the process, making a heroic sacrifice for his crippled friend. (READ: ‘Hold the door’: ‘Game of Thrones’ star Kristian Nairn on the latest shocker)

When Kristian faced the press and fans at the 2016 ToyCon Philippines – Pop Life FanXperience (June 10 to 12), he got something that’s completely unlikely to happen. He was sitting on the Iron Throne. For an entire weekend, he was King of the Seven Kingdoms – at least for the fans in Manila.

He was thrilled to be in the country – his first time – even when it was humid and raining heavily outside the SMX Convention Center.

“It’s really warm. It’s really hot,” Kristian admitted. “But you guys are really sweet, it’s really nice to be here. I’ve met a lot of really nice people since I came here, so thank you very much.”

While his character is capable of only uttering “Hodor,” Kristian is the complete opposite: chatty and candid. However, there are similarities between him and Hodor. He is as loveable as his gentle giant character and gracious with the fans – obliging for pictures and hugs if they ask.

We learned some things about what went on behind the scenes on Game of Thrones from him. Beyond the show, we also got to know interesting things about the actor who played the hero who held the door.

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

1. Hodor is ‘way nicer’ than Kristian.

When Kristian was asked to compare himself with his character, he replied, “He’s way nicer than me.”

He also made a cheeky reference to Hodor (previously known as Wylis) being capable of uttering only one word, saying: “I talk too much, probably. I say a lot more things than Hodor does, obviously. He’s just a solid good guy.”

2. Kristian knew about two huge ‘Game of Thrones’ secrets this season.

The first one, of course, was the origin of his character’s name revealed in the shocking and tragic “Hold the door” scene that broke the Internet.

“I’ve known I was gonna die for an entire year,” Kristian said, also admitting that he has “a really big mouth. I like to tell people things. It was really difficult for me not to tell.”

He confessed that he told his mother but no one else, apart from her. “So if you imagine – for a whole year – every day, people are asking me, ‘What happens this season?'” he said.

Photo courtesy of HBO Asia

The second secret he knew was something people had also constantly asked him: “Is Jon Snow alive?”

He recounted a particular incident when he was confronted with the question. “One day, I snapped, and someone’s [like], ‘Is Jon Snow alive?’ I just said, ‘I don’t care!'”

“The next thing, [in] the papers the next day, it was, ‘Kristian Nairn hates Kit Harington.’ I was like, ‘I wouldn’t say that!’ I like Kit! Kit’s amazing. He’s a really nice guy.”

LUCKY FAN. A fan gets to hug Kristian on stage. Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

3. There was actually more than one door.

“There [were] about 10 different versions of the door,” Kristian said. “It [the episode] should’ve really been called ‘The Doors.'”

There were about 6 or 7 of what he called “stunt doors.”

“When you see me pushing against the door – that’s a real door. There was, like, 7 or 8 people behind it ’cause I’m pretty strong. All these stunt guys and also another guy the same size as me – they’re trying to push. They couldn’t keep me back. I was trying to push.”

He revealed that the entire set moved with his own force. “The whole cave moved because I was pushing against it so hard,” he said.

4. Isaac Hempstead Wright was the one who shouted ‘cut’ on Kristian’s last day.

Isaac Hempstead Wright, aka Bran Stark, did the honor of a send-off for Kristian on his last day on set: “He was the one who said, ‘Cut. You’re finished.’ So he gave me a big hug. It was really sad.” (WATCH: Isaac Hempstead Wright talks Bran Stark’s return, ‘GoT’ deaths)

“Everyone was really nice. Everyone was really sweet,” he recounted. “I didn’t cry. But it was pretty sad.” 

On the other hand, he said with a laugh, “I was taking away that really horrible, smelly outfit [for] the last time. I was like, ‘Yeah, hmm… I’m not gonna miss this at all.'”

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

5. Isaac is like a ‘little brother’ to him.

Hodor and Bran Stark share a lot of screen time. When the cameras are not rolling, Kristian and Isaac are like real-life brothers.

“He’s a great kid. We get along really well. He’s like a little brother to me, actually,” Kristian described Isaac. (WATCH: ‘GoT’ star Isaac Hempstead Wright shares dream Bran Stark love team, favorite character, and more)


“I get angry with him. I’m always shouting at him,” he later said. “He’s really annoying sometimes. On purpose, he’d actually annoy me. But yeah, I’m gonna miss him, actually. I miss him a lot. But we’re always in touch. We text each other every week, every day.”

Kristian said that they’re “really close” and “hang out together often.” They even went to see the Warcraft movie together.

“People always want to know how heavy Bran is because when I first met Bran, he was like this height,” he gestured with his hands to illustrate. “Now he’s like 6-foot tall. He’s really big and he’s really heavy.”

Considering that Isaac entered the show as a wee boy, the Hodor actor recounted their early days on the show. He narrated an incident in which young Isaac destroyed his iPhone while playing a Harry Potter spells app – on the “first day” he met him.

“I saw mine flying through the air and smashed into a million bits. The first day I met Bran, he destroyed my iPhone, and then on the last day, he killed me. It’s a bit of a one-sided relationship.”

6. He’s a musician and DJ.

Outside of Westeros, Kristian used to be a guitar player and held a DJ residency in Kremlin, a club popular among the gay community in his native Northern Ireland. He has also been manning the decks in various clubs around the globe, playing a set aptly called “Rave of Thrones.”

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

If given a chance to choose between his acting and DJ career, he said that a choice wasn’t necessary. He also noted how the two professions differ.

“Luckily, I think I do a good job of doing both. I have a really, really busy work schedule, but it’s so different,” he said. “I mean, acting – what you do, you don’t get any reaction […] on TV, and then there’d be Twitter. But if you’re on a DJ set, you’re get a reaction right in the front – from the music crowds – either they hate it or they like it. I like the live reaction.”

“I like them both. I don’t have to choose, so I’m always gonna do both,” Kristian added.


Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

7. He likes ‘dark’ music.

Growing up, Kristian said he liked heavy metal, as he mentioned his guitarist background. His inclination for this sort of sound carried over into genres which he plays in his DJ sets. 

He said, “I just try to combine it all together. I like ’80s music, I like synthpop, darkwave […] I really like electronic music. I just sort of fuse it all together.”

However, in spite of his early liking for heavy metal, he said he doesn’t incorporate rock music into his sets.

“I like the darkness – not The Darkness band,” he explained these preferences with a tiny joke. “I just like that sort of atmosphere with the music. I’m sort of trying to mix it up.” 

8. He’s an avid Warcraft player.

Warcraft is one of Kristian’s favorite video games. “I’ve played Warcraft since it came out, really,” he said as someone in the audience shouted “For the horde!” which he echoes.

“Definitely a Horde player,” he said, stating which faction he bats for in the game. “I’m a blood elf hunter. Obviously, I don’t look much like a blood elf – more of an orc.”

9. His dream role:

On Game of Thrones, he said that it “would have slightly more dialogue” than just different iterations of “Hodor.” However, he said that a role on the show is “a dream role in the way that it changed my life. I mean it’s changed my life completely, utterly… I’m in the Philippines, like it’s changed my life.”

He also said that one dream role he’d love to play outside of Game of Thrones would have been in the movie adaptation of Warcraft. “I mean, it’s such a big part of my life,” he explained.

He added, “I’m really into fantasy, as well. I mean, Lord of the Rings – I might’ve loved to play a part in Lord of the Rings, but an older Gandalf – that sort of thing. I meant some sort of scary, big, bearded wizard.”

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

10. One ‘memorable’ and ‘scary’ moment with a ‘fan’:

Kristian had a withering plant in front of his house, and he “couldn’t be bothered watering it.” Then, someone tweeted him one day, telling him to water the plant. “This guy was watching my house, so that was f*cked,” he said.

Earlier, however, he described Game of Thrones fans as “usually quite intelligent because you have to be following the show from the start. So they’re usually quite sensible. So I really enjoy meeting Game of Thrones fans.”

11. If Kristian could play another Game of Thrones role other than Hodor, he would like to be…

“I think Arya,” Kristian said. “She’s amazing… Who else? All the female characters, actually.” 

He also considered Catelyn Stark, the deposed matriarch of the Starks who suffered a gruesome fate in season 3’s Red Wedding. He called her “a really good character.”

12. If he were ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros…

His decree? “Kill everybody!” This sounds like he’d rival Aerys the Mad King

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

13. He’d want to see Ramsay Bolton get killed off from the show.

Kristian Nairn called Iwan Rheon’s character, the sadistic Ramsay Bolton, a “horrible piece of sh*t.”

“He’s a really good character and a really good actor,” he explained. “A really good actor ’cause he’s really a nice guy in real life. But yeah, I want him to die horribly.”

14. He has two favorite theories about Hodor’s name before ‘Hold the door’ happened.

Kristian said that when he found out about his character’s name being rooted in “Hold the door,” it was “completely new to me.” However, he Googled about it before, and found two favorite “theories” regarding the real deal about Hodor – not only his name but his identity as well.

One: Hodor is the lost Clegane brother: “There’s like Sandor, Gregor, Hodor.” He immediately struck this down himself, saying: “Obviously, it’s not true. No. It might be. Who knows?”

Two: it could be explained by Norse mythology. He said, “Höðr is the god of winter. But [Hodor is] dead. None of these is true, unfortunately.”

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

15. On the finality of Hodor’s ‘death’:

“I can honestly say – categorically – that I know exactly as much as you,” Kristian told a reporter who asked him if there was a finality to his character’s departure from the show. 

However, knowing that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have brought outrageous surprises to the show, anything is possible on Game of Thrones.

“I know nothing, like Jon Snow. So I think that he’s dead,” he said. “I imagine that he’s not gonna come back from that, but who knows? It’s Game of Thrones, and I think it could happen.”

Photo courtesy of HBO Asia

If Hodor could return as a wraith or White Walker, Kristian said that it’d be great “from an actor’s point of view. I’m like, ‘Yay. Another year’s work.’ Also, I love being a part of Game of Thrones, so yeah, it’ll be amazing.”

Taking it from the point of view of a character, he said, “I kind of like it the way it is.”

“It’s like a circle. The circle’s complete, and it’ll be weird to come back. But if they want me back, I’ll come back. I’m not gonna fight with them.”

He also admitted that he initially wasn’t too “keen” on playing the role, but that later changed. “Over the years, I got to love the character,” he said. “I’m really gonna miss him, actually. It’s gonna be strange not being Hodor anymore. But then again, you’ll never know. You never know.”

16. If he were able to speak in complete sentences, his last words would be…

“F*ck you,” Kristian joked, considering that Bran was somewhat responsible for the entire “Hold the Door” mess in his brain – the situation when he had to sacrifice himself.

He followed it up, saying, “No, I don’t think he feels bad. I think he was glad to do his job. He was happy to save his friends, but yeah, probably just like, ‘Really? Really?'”

17. On what he thinks makes Game of Thrones popular:

True to his frank manner of speaking, Kristian blurted out “sex,” and immediately explains it: “I’m just trying to be realistic here, you know.”

He added, however, that the show’s fantasy element is one thing to consider: “You know, everyone likes a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of escapism – like, you know, you have to get away from your everyday life.”

“But I think Game of Thrones is […] not like the little fairies and unicorns. I like fairies and unicorns, but not on Game of Thrones.”

He also said that it could be “very relatable,” continuing, “There’s, like, politics… Incest… Depends where you’re from. It’s very relatable to everyday life – slightly. Hopefully, not everyone’s everyday life is as brutal as Game of Thrones. But I think that’s why. It’s not too fantastical – just a little bit.”

Photo by Paolo Abad/Rappler

18. What’s next for Kristian Nairn?

Kristian listed a TV show and two movies (“One’s being shot in New Jersey at the end of the year”) among his projects down the pipeline, but said, “Typical actor response – I can’t say much.”

On the music side of his career, he has upcoming releases as well as an ongoing DJ tour with his “Rave of Thrones” set.

“Dates keep getting added on. It’s never gonna end, which is amazing. It’s really busy – really, really busy. I’m really grateful for that, so you haven’t seen the last of me,” he said. – Rappler.com

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Paolo Abad

Paolo Abad writes, edits, and shoots for a living. He is one of the founding partners of the online radio platform Manila Community Radio.