One of the many highlights of Game of Thrones season 6 was the unexpected and poignant death of Hodor, the gentle giant of one word played for five seasons by Belfast actor Kristian Nairn. His exit coincided with one of our heroes Bran Stark, the fantasy equivalent of a telepath, discovering that it was his mind-and-time meddling that turned Hodor from sweet stable boy Wyllis into the sacrifice who could only remember a bastardized version of “hold the door,” uttered when his death was nigh.
Nairn, speaking with the British paper The Independent, said the response to both his character’s death and the tragic explanation (even he had a hard time understanding it!) behind his Hodor-ing was overwhelming.
The response has been incredible. The day that show went out, I’ve never witnessed anything like it on my phone. I think I got something like 76,000 Tweets that night. It was just unbelievable. People were genuinely sad, in a different way, because it wasn’t the usual ‘someone got their head cut off, boo hoo it’s Game of Thrones’. I think because it was linked to this tragedy, a feeling of this character who has always been there leaving. People have always liked Hodor and all of a sudden he’s gone. He did it in such a noble way and it has really caught people’s imagination. I was so happy because, when I first found out about it, I was like ‘Oh sh*t, that’s not good’. Then, when I read the scene, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go.
It’s hard to understand, because it, fortunately, doesn’t happen in real life, but it’s all from the imagination of these producers. I kinda had to take a step back and say ‘What!’ I think I understand that Bran was using his powers recklessly, and he’s almost short-circuited young Hodor’s brain by trying to Warg across time which is not supposed to be done. There are all these theories, but I don’t know anything more than you do about it.
While fans worried that we’d see Hodor return as one of the reanimated corpses (“wights”) the White Walkers use for their army, they were thankfully spared and Nairn doesn’t think much of the idea.
As much as I would like to come back and play a White Walker, I think it would be wrong. There are too many emotions tied up, it would be a bit of a travesty to bring him back. If they’re going to do it, I’m sure they’d find a really cool way to do it. Whatever happens, it’s probably not going to end well. A zombie Hodor is not a pretty thought.
Even though he is now part of the ever-growing ranks of beloved-but dead characters on the show, Nairn has long been a self-proclaimed fantasy nerd, specifically high fantasy and the likes of Dungeons and Dragons and he loves to speculate about the show he’s as much a fan as a member of.
We’re definitely coming up to the climax, which is fairly obvious now we’ve seen Khaleesi sailing towards Westeros. That’s an important part of the story, one that will kick in the end game.
I have so many theories, but I think in the end the Iron Throne isn’t even going to be an issue. It’s going to be wiped out in this war between fire and ice. Most people are going to end up dead. This is just my theory, of course, but when the majority end up dead, the Iron Throne will probably have to be melted down to use for metal. It’s going to be completely irrelevant, it’s going to be a death bed. In the end, it’s just going to be one big bloody battleground. I just don’t know how they’re going to beat the Night King when he has the power to resurrect. What do you do against that?
None of us will know how it shakes out until Thrones returns next year. As with any popular show, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Thrones has its fair share of imitators but while Nairn commends them, he credits it with leading rather than following, much like fellow critical/commercial smash Breaking Bad.
Not to name any names, but there have already been a couple of shows which have been labelled the new Game of Thrones, or ‘if you like Game of Thrones you’ll like this’, but they just haven’t been anywhere close. It’s a bit sad really. You’re really going to have to be of a high quality. That’s the thing, we’re taking from these incredible books, which is a huge advantage over stuff that has just been written for TV. Maybe if they find a new series of books too. There’s a series of books by David Gemmell which started off with a book called Legend, and that would be an incredible storyline if they could somehow adopt that. He’s another one of the great science fiction writers who was one of George’s peers. It would be interesting to see what that would be like.
Breaking Bad is a groundbreaking show, as is Game of Thrones. And, I’m sorry to say, but once that ground is broken, it’s already broken. If someone comes along and tries to copy it, it’s a bit crass. Someone already had the balls to have an eight-year-old child to say the C-word on TV – we’ve already done that, so it’s going to be weird if someone else does it.
On tour for two years as a DJ for Rave of Thrones, he’s grateful for the boost the show provided to his passion but he doesn’t expect to continue it past the show’s lifetime, which means another two years roughly before Nairn ends it. He plans to keep making music and acting. In the meantime, Rave of Thrones is on its UK tour and Game of Thrones returns Hodor-less in 2017.