Let Hodor be a lesson, young graduates — always go out for the interview. For the 2009 comedy Hot Fuzz, Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor in Game of Thrones, unsuccessfully tried out for a role.
Years later, the casting director remembered Nairn and his 6-10 frame for the smash HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin's fantasy novels.
If modern medicine applies in the Game of Thrones universe, Hodor seems to suffer from expressive aphasia. Though the sympathetic hulk can understand language, he can only respond by his name — Hodor! Nairn's great challenge in the series is to bring expression to the character, with vivid body language and intelligible takes on his one-word vocabulary.
As the Bran Stark/Hodor plotline was suspended for season five — the showrunners got ahead of the novelist north of the wall — Nairn kept busy with Rave of Thrones. A career DJ in Belfast, Nairn invites ravers to dress up as their favorite Westerosi characters for the touring house jaunt. Over Skype, we caught up with Nairn on the Rave, and the Game, of Thrones.
How is the reception for house music in the UK compared to the US?
House has always been big here. But when I first started to do these gigs, coming up to over a year ago now, really the reception in the States has grown. I used to have to sell myself with a little bit of EDM, a little bit of electronic bass stuff just to keep the crowd happy. I don't have to do that anymore.
What are your feelings on American festival EDM, like the Miami shit?
Well, you said it yourself. That word you said at the end. I mean, sometimes you feel like you want to drop in a few big [bass] drops, but not too much. I think every time it gets more predictable — you know exactly what is going to happen. It's not for me. I'm being diplomatic there.
What's the worst and the best cosplay you've seen at the Rave of Thrones?
Well, I'll start with the best. I've seen some pretty rockin' White Walkers. People really get into it with the blue eyes, putting LEDs into their costumes. That's incredible, probably very dangerous. I also saw a very tall girl dressed in a Hodor outfit. She looked incredible, actually.
The worst? There's a lot of John Snows. There's always a lot of Khaleesis. Not that they're boring me but there's so many characters in the show. But yah, people want to be the hot guy, people want to be the hot girl. Yeah, whatever. But I appreciate everybody who dresses up, it takes some time.
You were partially deaf as a child. Has that helped with your portrayal of Hodor?
Very much. Obviously, he's very expressive. I never was completely deaf, but I was severely reduced. I had studied to be a sign language interpreter before I wanted to be a DJ. I think it's definitely helped in the role.
Do you receive a lot of direction in your scenes or are you left to interpret your one-word scripts?
I didn't want to portray him as some idiot or a lunatic. I wanted him to portray him positively, which is written into the character. I wanted to do him justice really. There were definitely some days where the director said 'try it this way or try it a bit more that way.'
What do you think is going on in Hodor's mind when Bran wargs into him?
I think he almost becomes like a passenger. He's almost a prisoner of his body, a prisoner of the car and someone else is taking the wheel. I think he's scared, I don't think he likes it very much. But I think he knows enough that he has to; it's for the greater good.
For the most part, HBO keeps its secrets on lock. Are you worried about spilling secrets in conversation?
It's my worst fear. I'm afraid people are going to steal my iPod or steal my computer with the script on it. It's so easy; you have to be careful with your shit. I don't drink very much anyway, so I don't have to worry about getting drunk and spilling all the secrets. That's one of the reasons I don't read other people's parts as well. If the worst happens, it'll just be my part.
Rave of Thrones (Alamo City Comic Con Official Afterparty)
$25 - $100, 8pm, The Korova, 107 E. Martin St., thekorova.com