KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — Heads being cut off and throats ripped out probably sum up a regular day in Westeros, the brutal, fictional land in the HBO hit show Game of Thrones.
In a world full of power-hungry families seeking to claim the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms, the good and pure were hard to come by.
So it’s no wonder fans were quick to embrace the gentle giant Hodor, who provided a much-needed dose of altruism for viewers wanting to cheer on a decent person.
Ahead of the series’ 10th anniversary, Malay Mail caught up with Kristian Nairn, the actor who played Bran Stark’s faithful and lovable companion after he was pushed out of a window.
Bran became crippled and Hodor lived up to his character by carrying him around.
“He’s in a world where everybody is really mean and wants to kill everybody — everybody’s in it for themselves and has an agenda, it’s such a twisted universe.
“But Hodor was real and honest — I don’t think he deserved all the bad things that have happened to him and I think people empathised with that.
“He was a nice guy in a really harsh universe,” the Northern Irish actor said in a Zoom interview this week.
First aired on April 17, 2011, Game of Thrones changed television with its scale and scope.
By the time the show was in its final season, each episode reportedly cost an average of US$15 million (RM62 million) to produce — such figures were unheard of at the time but has now become the norm in television production.
It was an exciting time for audiences who didn’t know what to expect from each episode and we can thank Ned Stark’s shocking beheading in the first season for setting the tone.
Even the actors didn’t expect to make it to the last episode and would wonder “Do I die?” when they got the script.
The project gave actors like Nairn his first acting role four years after unsuccessfully auditioning for Hot Fuzz.
“I don’t know if there’s ever been another show like Game of Thrones — it’s probably one of a kind.
“I was very lucky to start with Game of Thrones because I learned so much from the other actors.
“We have some of the best British actors in the business on the show, and Americans too,” the 45-year-old said.
Nairn, who is also a deejay, said he is grateful for the part as it has opened a lot of doors for him.
“Not as big as Game of Thrones just yet but you’ll never know.
“It’s given people so many opportunities now that the other cast has performed on a global scale — doesn’t matter how small your part is, everyone all over the world knows who you are so it’s changed everybody’s lives.
“We all feel very lucky,” added Nairn, who has been watching the series to celebrate its decade-old milestone.
Asked if he got to keep anything from the show’s elaborate set, Nairn said a newspaper once reported he had left the show with a whole door.
“Which is such a lie, people would notice,” he said.
What he did take on his last day was a tiny piece of wood that fell off from the door he was up against when he was getting killed by White Walkers — yes, the hold the door scene that revealed how Hodor got his name which made you cry.
“I’m going to keep this piece of wood because it was going in the trash anyway.
“But somewhere in the world, they thought I took a whole door which I did not, I’m innocent.
“I wish I had taken the throne but my car is not big enough,” Nairn said.
When it comes to fan encounters, the actor said Game of Thrones devotees have come up to him with strange requests, including signing a man’s chest for it to be tattooed on.
“I don’t know what weird is anymore, my life is so weird and people say strange things to me all the time.”
Given the countless nude scenes that appeared on the show, Nairn too wasn’t spared from filming uncomfortable scenes.
The actor had to take it all off in a bathing scene which he described as “a horrible day” — it involved a massive prosthetic that was glued onto his nether regions.
“People literally come up to me on the street and say, ‘Was that your real penis?’ and I’m like ‘Hi, I’m Kristian, nice to meet you’.
“You can’t say that to me but people are so forward.
“They will say anything, you just have to be prepared for that,” he said laughing.
To mark the 10th anniversary of Game of Thrones, HBO has launched The Iron Anniversary to commemorate the original series and get fans excited for the prequel, House of the Dragon that will debut in 2022.
Fans can catch a reunion special hosted by Conan O’Brien and over 300 extras, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage on HBO GO as well as the entire eight seasons of Game of Thrones.
Fans can also share their best memories of Game of Thrones on HBO Asia’s official Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages and stand a chance to win a modern-day “throne” — Secretlab Omega Game of Thrones Collection chair (worth US$389) — and other exclusive Game of Thrones merchandise from now until April 26.