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Game of Thrones’ Kristian Nairn on Hodor’s Darth Vader Grip, Dwarfing the Iron Throne, and Getting Bran-Warged

Game of Thrones’ Kristian Nairn, a.k.a. Hodor. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Hodor, the gentle giant loyally helping Bran Stark on his vision quest, may be a man of few words, but the same can not be said of Kristian Nairn, the articulate actor who portrays him. While the Game of Thrones fan favorite had an eventful episode this past Sunday, Vulture didn’t need any special reason to phone up the the dude who plays Hodor to say, “Hodor!” While we had Nairn on the phone, we asked him about what just happened, as well as a variety of other fun topics, including Barack Obama’s Westeros Wing, Gay of Thrones, and what Hodor would be like as king. [Note: Spoilers from recent episodes lie ahead.]

Since you have 70 different ways of saying Hodor, which is the one we should use for saying hello? Hodor?
Hodor! It’s more of a body language thing, so it’s “Hodor” with a handshake. [Laughs.]

Did you see that for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Barack Obama had a picture of him sitting on the Iron Throne?
Yeah! I saw a photograph of that today, and to be honest, I thought it was Photoshopped! Was it the real thing? That was awesome. That was pretty freaking awesome. But if U.S. politics are heading in the same direction as Westeros politics, I think you guys need to be a bit afraid.

Have you ever tried to sit in one of those Iron Throne replicas they use for the traveling exhibits?
I have! I’m one of the only people who can sit in it and make it look like a child’s Port-a-Potty! If Hodor ever took the Iron Throne, they would need to do a recast of the throne and make it a bit bigger. Add a few more swords. That’s my pitch! I don’t think Hodor could be any worse than Joffrey. Even with one word, he’d do a better job than Joffrey did. But I genuinely believe he would need to learn a few more words, in order to rule, so he would have to go to some sort of community college to get some more vocab before taking the throne. But people would be happier with him than that scumbug.

So let’s talk about the big scene in Sunday’s episode, when Bran wargs into Hodor and kills Locke.
I always say, the darker the scene, the more fun it is. And it was definitely fun to film, and it’s a different side of Hodor, even though it’s not really Hodor. But it was definitely a different note, acting wise. Bran gets the nod from Jojen, who’s his Yoda — he’s been teaching him how to use his powers — so he’s like, “Yeah, do it.” And Bran wargs into Hodor, and Hodor becomes a very different animal. He’s hugely strong, which he’s never gotten to use in a malicious way before, and he breaks the chains and he takes off after Locke. He knocks him flat with a single push, and Locke makes a move to stab him, so Hodor puts him in his Darth Vader grip — that’s what I like to call it — and completely collapses his throat and almost rips his head off, and throws him down like a rag doll. His head is completely separated from his spinal cord. Imagine a bear hitting a salmon with his paw. It’s just horrible. But it’s great, at the same time! [Laughs.]

How much do you think this is self-defense for Bran? Justifiable homicide?
In Westeros, that’s another day at the office! [Laughs.] But Bran has no option, because he’s being taken away from everybody. If he hadn’t done this, he never would have seen any of us again, and his journey would be over. No more walking. No more powers. And he’s hoping that he can find some magical way to get his legs back. And it’s just chaos. If he had time to plan, he might have done things differently, because he’s not a seasoned killer. And I don’t think it’s easy for him to use his power yet, but he can when there’s an emotional key. I think it’s time for something like this to happen Bran, you know? He hasn’t had a good time of things. He lost his family, his home, and he’s gone from being the lord of the castle to being basically a handicapped child. He’s lost, and he’s overdue for a little bit of payback. I’m sure deep down, Bran is probably quite scared and angry, and it’s out of desperation.

What about how Hodor feels about this?
When Hodor comes around and realizes what he’s done, he’s not happy. He’s not happy at all. As you see at the end of the scene, he looks haunted. He’s standing there with the snow blowing around him, looking at his hands, looking at the body. And what his internal monologue is, I mean, obviously, he would say, “Hodor, Hodor, Hodor,” but his internal monologue is saying, “I couldn’t. I couldn’t have done this.” He sees the blood on his hands, and he’s terrified. He’s completely confused. He’s looking at the corpse, his hands, and Bran, and he’s thinking, I couldn’t have done that. But I’m sure he knows he did, because he must have had some sort of backseat view, because he doesn’t like it. But I think he cares enough about Bran that he would have let him, under certain circumstances. He realizes that there is a battle going on around him, so his sense of duty kicks in and he snaps out of it. And I don’t think we know enough about Bran’s ability yet, though, or how complicit Hodor really is or not yet. Could he fight him off, if he really wanted to? You know? All these situations have been out of necessity. It’s not like Bran is going, “Hey, I’m going to jump into Hodor here, and have a bit of a jog.” If Hodor was a reasonable man, he could have understood why Bran did this, and that’s what makes it more reasonable for me.

I guess the issue of consent is just tricky with someone like Hodor, because it’s not like he can say the word “no.”
Yeah, but he could certainly let you know that he means “no”! [Laughs.] He could run off. But not when he’s not tied up, of course. After all his “Hodor”s, I’m sure he could find one that means “no.” “Hodor!” And I believe in the books, Hodor runs away into a cave to get away from Bran, but I’m not sure if we’re going to do that or not. It’s not shown in the show that way. But it is tricky, though. It could be perceived as against Hodor’s will, but it blurs the rules. What would have happened to Hodor if he hadn’t done this? And to Meera? And Jojen? What would have happened if he hadn’t done this? Something far worse. Luckily, this doesn’t happen in real life. You can’t warg into your mother and make her go into K-Mart if you’re too tired to do your shopping. So it’s a little weird to apply our rules. I think that’s why Game of Thrones is such a watercooler talking point, because there are these moments that are beautiful and terrible at the same time. But as Hodor, I genuinely believe that what you see is okay.

I’m wondering if you’ve seen Gay of Thrones. In it, your little troupe is called Bran and the Winterfell Spice Girls.
[Laughs uproariously.] I can cope with that. I’m proud to be the Spice Girls.

This is how they break it down. Hodor is Scary Spice …
Oh, yes.

Bran is Baby Spice …

Meera is Sporty Spice …
That is so true!

Jojen is Posh Spice …
Shouldn’t he be Ginger Spice?

There’s no Ginger, because it’s after the breakup.
Oh, dear. [Laughs.] That’s some imagination right there. If anyone ever wants to cos-play that, I’m up for it! We definitely have the animal prints for it, so that’s the Scary Spice feature. But we have the real stuff.

Isaac mentioned that he likes to sing songs to you when he’s on your back.
He does like to sing horrible songs in my ear, like SpongeBob’s “An Essay.” It’s like the homework song. It’s just the worst thing ever, honestly. I can’t say that I always enjoy it, so if you really want to talk about boundaries, that’s it right there! That’s definitely worse. [Laughs.]

GoT’s Kristian Nairn on Hodor’s Darth Vader Grip