Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.
Kristian Nairn, who plays the much-beloved Hodor on Game of Thrones, once told us how he’d like his character to die. “It would be like a Michael Bay film,” he imagined. “Lots of fireworks and explosions. Huge transforming robots falling out of the sky. I die with a cyber-spear in my chest. Is that dramatic enough?” But the actual death scene he got in Sunday’s episode was far more moving than anything we could have dreamed up. Nairn chatted with Vulture to help us through our grieving process.
I am so heartbroken!
[Laughs.] I can hear it in your voice. I’m glad to hear that, in a perverse way.
While it’s so sad, it’s also a confusing scene for some people, so I’m wondering if you can help explain what exactly happened here.
Where would you like me to begin? This is my understanding of it, and it’s just my interpretation — I could be completely wrong. The way I saw it was, obviously there was Bran in the past, watching the rerun, and shit starts to go down in the present day. The White Walkers arrive, and when Meera starts to shout at him to warg into Hodor, think of it like a telephone call. The lines start to get crossed. Bran has almost this physical force, like electricity, which he can use to engage with the brains of animals, and obviously Hodor as well. And he just didn’t know how to make that call from within the past, and he didn’t really know what he was doing. And somehow, the call got connected to the wrong Hodor. It got caught in some kind of temporal … and he didn’t understand this, either. You can see that on his face. He didn’t know what he’d done. When poor Wylis starts having a seizure, you can see him get increasingly concerned. He knew he’d done something, but what? It created some kind of vortex, and it sort of erased poor Wylis, and left him like an echo chamber. It wiped his brain.
So it wasn’t Bran’s fault.
A few people have said, “Was it actually Bran who killed Hodor? Was he the one making him hold the door and stuff?” I don’t think so. Meera was the one who said, “Hold the door,” not Bran. And Hodor was terrified. He wanted to run down that corridor. That wasn’t the fearsome warged Hodor of breaking Locke’s neck fame. That was just normal Hodor. I think when he warged Hodor, it was just to get him up on his feet, more like slapping the side of a horse. Like, “Come on! Get up! We need you here!” It was just a jolt of electricity. It wasn’t a full warg. That’s my interpretation of it, and I think that’s fairly close to the truth.
So the moment when Hodor holds the door is actually pure Hodor, not Bran-warging-Hodor.
It’s very much coming from Hodor, because otherwise Meera wouldn’t have had to ask him. Or she would be talking to Bran, not Hodor.
Do you think as Wylis grew up and later encountered Bran, that he recognized him? Did he live with the knowledge of his own impending death, the way Jojen did?
No. I don’t think he recognizes Bran. I don’t think when he saw Bran in his real, everyday life, his reaction was, “Oh, that’s that little bastard from the courtyard. I’m gonna steer away from him!” I don’t think he remembers. But he does feel a bond with Bran, because obviously Bran’s been in his brain before. They were always sort of fated to be together. People say that Bran changed things, but has he really? Or was it always meant to happen?
It seems more like a closed loop.
Yeah, it’s a closed loop. And that’s what I love about this. It’s answered questions, but it’s also raised more which are unanswered. I love that. We’ve lost Hodor, but we’re always going to have a bit of an enigma here. It’s always fun to have your own theory, even if it’s completely fucking wrong.
We’re sometimes wrong when we theorize about these things, but at least a few fans were proven to be right about Hodor. One in 2008, and another who got in an elevator with George R.R. Martin and joked, “It’s clear to me now that Hodor is short for ‘hold the door.’” George told him, “You don’t know how close to the truth you are!”
Wow. That’s really annoying, because I’ve asked George many times, and he wouldn’t tell me! So after all those wasted drinks I bought him, all I had to do was get in an elevator with him. You know, I tried to get him drunk, and it didn’t work. It’s alright. Someone else told me about the person who accurately predicted it, but these days, every time I open up my Facebook profile, I’ll see all these sites with “Top 15 Theories,” or “Top 20 Things That Might Happen in Next Week’s Game of Thrones,” and I go, “Oh my God. One of these is bound to get it right! Stop ruining it for yourself!” People have gone nuts. Breaking Bad didn’t suffer the way we’re suffering here. I didn’t go on Facebook and say, “Uh, next week on Breaking Bad, he’s going to take this meth and he’s going to sell it.” You know what I mean? People are trying to predict what we’re going to bloody do! It’s like, Stop it!
But everyone is so grateful for the level of passion that the fans have for this show. It’s the best thing about it. I love the fans, even in their weird, silly ways. I’m the same way about things I’m passionate about. I’m a fan of things. I’m annoying. I’m in London at the moment so I can go to the Warcraft premiere on Wednesday, and I’ve got all my T-shirts and everything, and I’ll be in the front.
Do people ever find you on World of Warcraft? Do they want to play with you?
I’m sort of hidden there. At first, I thought it would be a good idea because I love to interact with people, but I’ve had to pull back a little over the years as things have grown, because I realized I was spending most of my time staring at Twitter or Facebook, and it was getting annoying. And Warcraft to me is such an escape. But people would be like, “Oh my God, did you see that episode? What happened?!” And I just want to kill shit. I just want to hunt the monster. I don’t want to talk about Game of Thrones there. As much as I appreciate it, that’s my holiday. So I kind of disappeared into the ether. But some people know who I am. I run about the place with two little pets — one’s called Nairn, and one’s called Hodor. So it’s pretty obvious. [Laughs.]
Did you see the rap battle between Hodor and Groot?
Yeah, I saw that. [Chuckles.] I don’t know how to react to things like that. I think they’re funny. I think people have too much time on their hands, but they’re very creative. I’m just getting too old. The grumpier and older I am, the better.
You can’t be grumpy about Hodor!
It’s so beautiful, the fan reaction. I remember being at a convention, and a lady came up to me, and she had her son or nephew with her, and he was severely autistic. And she said that whenever Hodor came on the screen, he would light up, and he would start to talk. Apparently, he rarely spoke. But he would say, “Hodor.” So I made him a video, and the reaction was incredible. I cried like a baby.