'Game Of Thrones' Star Kristian Nairn Talks Coming Out And Possibly Coming Back To The Show

Kristian Nairn has a lot more to say than just "Hodor."
Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor.
Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor.
Illustration: HuffPost Photos: HBO

In a 2014 interview with WinterIsComing.net, a pseudonymous blogger by the name of Fire and Blood asked “Game of Thrones” actor Kristian Nairn what he thought of his “bear” fan following.

The question was, of course, a reference to a segment of Nairn’s fans who identify within the gay community as a rugged masculine type, to which the actor replied, “Well, in all honesty, when you talk about ‘the gay community,’ you are talking about MY community. ... I AM aware of it, yeah, and I think it’s really lovely.”

Pretty soon, outlets around the world, including CNN, were writing headlines like, “‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Comes Out As Gay.”

Nairn couldn’t believe it.

“I think the comment was that I had a lot of fans in the bear community, and it was almost said like, ‘Have you got a problem with that?’” Nairn explained in an interview with HuffPost earlier this month. “And I was like, ’Why would I have a problem? That’s my community.’ And that’s how I said it. It’s my own community. Why would I have an issue? And that was tinder to the fire.”

“It was mind-boggling,” the actor said of the news cycle that unfolded. “I mean, I’ve never been ‘in.’ I’ve never been straight. I’ve never [lived] as a heterosexual man, and I never will unless I’m struck by lightning or something. After all these years of working in the gay community all over the world ... and just to make a small comment in an interview [that] was actually just a throwaway comment. The next thing, it was like, ‘Did you just come out?’”

In reality, everyone close to Nairn already knew. His friends knew. The “Game of Thrones” cast knew. It wasn’t a secret, in part because before he was battling steel-wielding wights as Hodor or working the wheels of steel as an internationally recognized DJ, the Northern Ireland-born Nairn was focused on giving steely looks as a drag star named Revvlon.

“My friend and I one night, I think we were bored and we were watching probably ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ or something,” he said. “And she had her makeup with her and put makeup on me, and something happened. I felt different, and the shy person I still was, was not there anymore.”

Thus the persona Revvlon was born, partly as a response to the people in his life who didn’t think he could perform.

“So many times in my life someone said to me, ‘You couldn’t do that. You shouldn’t do that. You’d probably look quite strange,’ and I went, ‘Fuck you. I’ll do what I want.’”

For the next five or six years, a 20-something Nairn was part of the drag world while he was attending music college and taking part in theater. One night, while hosting at a gay bar in Belfast called Kremlin, he filled in for a DJ out sick and hasn’t looked back since. He first DJed in the drag persona and then decided just to be himself.

“While I love drag and admire what it does for people ― and what it did for me was unbelievable ― I was ready to be me,” the now-42-year-old actor said. “I’m not saying I’ll never do it again. ... I’m such a big fan of ‘Drag Race.’ Every time I watch it, I’m going, ‘I’d slay all you bitches.’” (For the record, he’s coy about whether he’d join the show as a judge: “We’ll see.”)

With Nairn so visible in the gay community, it was strange to him for people to think he came out in that “Game of Thrones” interview. Nairn concedes he probably had to make it public at some point but “having to come out to the internet is weird.”

Overall, the feedback he received was mostly positive. He accrued “a few more gay fans” from the experience and suddenly became much more popular on the gay dating app Scruff.

“People never believe it’s me,” he noted. “They’re just like, ‘Haha. What are you using Hodor or Kristian Nairn’s photograph for?’”

But some people were still less than pleasant.

“I think the worst [response] I got was, ‘I hope your character dies and you die in real life.’ And I’m like, ‘Thanks, girl,’” Nairn said with a laugh. The actor said ultimately he doesn’t “give a shit” about nasty comments, adding, “They’re not going to have the balls to say that to my face.”

Really, Nairn said he wishes people would “just watch the bloody show” and stop judging others for what they do in their private life.

”A lot of things would be solved if people would just fuck off from other people’s lives,” he said.

Nairn continues touring around the world as a DJ, with multiple appearances planned at Ushuaia in Ibiza, Spain, this summer. He’s starring in the upcoming horror movie “The Appearance.” And he’s even involved in a secret project that, when we spoke earlier this month, he said would hit the internet “in a few weeks.” Nairn says he owes a lot of his opportunities to the show that made his life “unrecognizable.”

“It just makes things possible,” he said. “Where they weren’t possible before, now they are.”

And as a result, our interview turned to all matters “Game of Thrones” pretty quickly. How are you not going to ask Hodor about “Game of Thrones”? In particular, a lot of the chat focused on his Season 6 exit ― which Nairn called a bit of a “mystery.”

That’s right. Nairn, being his mischievous self, is ready to cast some doubt on Hodor’s big death scene. Kristian, what do you have to say for yourself?

Have you seen Season 7?

I’ve seen bits and pieces, most of it. I do love it. I will call myself definitely a fan of the show. It’s strange that I’m not in it anymore. It’s very bizarre. I didn’t like watching it while I was in it for a different set of reasons, but it is strange not being part of that machine anymore because it was such a big part of my life every day.

You heard Hodor was dying from a castmate?

Yeah, [Finn Jones] tipped me off. He got the script before me. We all do that thing. “Do we make it to the end of the season?” And he was like, “No, you don’t, but it’s a really cool way you’re gonna go.” And three days later, I got the call from [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss saying] just that: “This is your last season, but it’s a really cool scene. You’re gonna be happy.” Hodor was such a close character in my heart, also to the fans of the show. I think he deserves that send-off.

“The Door,” the episode where he sacrifices himself, is one of my favorites.

Me too. Me too. I think it’s so well done, and you also have that little bit of mystery at the end because you don’t actually see him die. Is he dead? Who knows?

Whaaat? You said you would be open for coming back, right?

Heck yeah. I need the money, man. [Laughs] No, anything to still be a part of that show. You never know. You’ll see in ... God knows how many bloody years it is until [Season 8] is released. It just seems to get further and further away.

Have you been to set?

No. Well ... it’s right down the road from my house [in Belfast]. I live in Westeros, so I can’t help but sort of still be around.

Have David Benioff and Dan Weiss ever asked you to come back?

I’m not gonna tell you that. Nice try.

[Laughs] I’m a journalist. I gotta ask. How has it been since Hodor’s death? Is everyone constantly holding the door for you?

More often, they want me to hold the door for them. I never expected the kind of response I’ve had. Every day, I get emotions from people. They still cry. It feels like it just happened the other day!

What’s your reaction to the Hodor doorstops?

Where’s my commission? [Laughs] No, just joking. It’s usually very flattering.

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What do you think actually happened when Hodor died?

I think the whole ambiguity of it is part of the fun. People want these rational explanations, and I’m like, “You know these things don’t actually happen in real life?” Maybe someone waved a wand somewhere and said expelliarmus, and it just happens. ... Gandalf stuck his fucking staff in the ground and said, “You shall not pass.”

What I think is, I don’t even know. I don’t know if I think about it too much. I just think that when [Bran] was warged into the past, he obviously could see Hodor as a child. And when Meera Reed was meaning him to warg into Hodor, he kind of warged into both [Hodor and young Hodor] and he connected them both over this huge time fucking vortex and probably fried Hodor’s brain. He connected them both, and I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to happen. What is it Emmett Brown says [in “Back to the Future”]? Flux capacitor? But it’s a big bang inside Hodor’s head. That’s my theory.

From that death, and the reveal that Bran can affect the past, came the theory that Bran may have been the cause for everything and it’s a time loop.

There are all sorts of theories, man. I think the one theory that holds water is a lot of it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Bran. Because he was told not to climb that tower, and he disobeyed his mother. He climbed up and saw Jaime and Cersei getting jiggy with it, and that’s what started it all? Really? If he had just obeyed his mother, it would have been a very boring show.

So how did you become Hodor?

I always had a guy who would get me auditions, he was loosely termed an agent, and he put me forward for a Simon Pegg movie called “Hot Fuzz,” which I didn’t get the part. It went terribly. I was DJing until 6 a.m. from the night before and had to fly to London and get straight off a plane to do an audition. Worst audition ever. But it was Nina Gold who cast “Game of Thrones,” and four years later she called me back. Four years? You remember for four years? Probably because it was the shittiest audition, and she said, “Let’s give you another go at a different part,” and, yeah, that’s how that happened. And from that day, everything’s been different.

I think I saw an audition online.

Yeah ... I didn’t understand what the part was. That was the second proper audition I’ve ever done, and I didn’t understand what the character was about then. Someone just said, “This guy can only say ‘Hodor,’” and I’m like, “What? What? Why?” They’re like, “We don’t know,” and I’m like, “Give me some backstory.” No one knows, so I just did my interpretation of it, I guess, and they liked it.

I like how that little kid in the audition tape is so committed to playing Bran there, too.

I think he was up for the part of Bran as well. Obviously, it didn’t go his way, but yeah, he was a little actor as well. I think it was his mother’s 40th birthday or something, and we just crashed the party, and it was like, “We need to use your garden and your child.” So I didn’t know what the fuck was happening.

And after that, it was like no chance. I mean, I’m not going to hear anything from that, and two days later it was it. They were in Belfast. They want you to come out and say hello. And I was like, “OK?” And then they gave me the part then and there.

What did you do when you got it? Did you just call everyone you know?

I don’t think anyone really realized how big it was gonna be. You know? Is it going to be one of those Dungeons and Dragons, straight to Syfy channel type things? That’s what it kind of felt like, and I spoke to my mother about it, and she was like, “No, no, no, no, no. This is going to be different. These are famous, famous books.” She read them, so she was like, “Yeah you’re perfect for Hodor.” [Laugh]

There are mashups online of all the different ways you say Hodor.

Oh, God. I haven’t watched it.

Well, somewhere in the world there was a [soundboard] of, I think, me saying it 75 different ways, which we had to do for ADR. That was terrible, man. They’re just like, “Stand there for 15 minutes and do it different every time.” And I’m like, “What? C’mon.” He’s such a reactionary character. He’s reacting to everything happening around him, and then you’re stuck in a little black studio, and I have nothing to react to.

Besides all the extra work for acting, you’d also DJ while working on the show?

I would actually DJ until 3 a.m. Call time would be 5. So I would have to shoot home, and then would have like 45 minutes and to try to catch up during the day in your trailer. It was tough because the body, it was all very physical, because of Isaac and stuff. Especially in the first couple of seasons. I pushed myself further than I thought I could.

Did you have any idea he was going to turn out so big? Isaac Hempstead Wright is like 6 feet tall now.

No! I certainly didn’t! But we had doubles ... we had a double for Bran who’s name was Samantha, a smaller girl, and we had a double for Hodor as well for wide shots, which is really strange. It’s always like 10 miles away. I’m like, “Really? Is it the same postman?” But we used those for wide shots and sometimes your body would just stop working, and they’d do it from behind or something. Sam was a lot lighter than Isaac. Her legs were a lot shorter.

Have you and Isaac been able to keep in touch?

Oh, yeah. We still talk a lot at least once every two weeks or whatever, but I’m not the cool uncle anymore. It’s gotten to the age now where some of the things he tells me, I’m like, “Isaac! C’mon!” He’s 19 now. I just want to slap him. I’m like, “C’mon.” That’s my experience. I can’t do “I’m so cool.” I can’t do that anymore. I get more and more parental.

I think Isaac once said he used to sing “SpongeBob” in your ear while you carried him around.

I have like a nervous tic when you say that. That’s when he’s on my back, man. He’d just sing into my ear, and he can’t sing worth shit. It’s just repetition, repetition, repetition. Drove me crazy, man. When a kid realizes you’ve got like a trigger switch ... yeah, lucky me.

That was cool when you came out and reunited with him on “Conan.”

It was a nice moment. Though I saw some weird memes after that. You know what it’s like when you’re a gay man and stuff and the playground mentality of almost putting Isaac and I in a relationship, and I’m like, he’s a child. I’ve known him since he was 8 or 9. He feels like an adopted son. That’s another one. Step away from Instagram, please. Get some fresh air.

That’s so weird. And Hodor was the subject of so many memes.

Everyone likes a good old meme, apart from me. [Laughs]

So where do you see yourself in the future? I saw some articles where you said you’d think about running for office?

That was vastly, vastly taken ... you need a huge bucketload of fucking salt for that comment. ... I have no plans. No plans. As far as I am as a person, I will speak out against things. But I have no plans to run for any political office.

This is a weird little country here [in Northern Ireland] where I’m from. We’re the little magical kingdom in the corner in the U.K. and Ireland, [where gay people] don’t have rights to be married. Whereas in Ireland, they do, and in U.K., they do. And also now with the abortion thing, somehow we have this little crystal castle ... it’s incredibly frustrating, and I don’t know if you know much about politics here. I’m from a mixed background. I can see issues on both sides, and that’s what makes me really sad. To progress, we need a whole new set of politics. We need to throw the arseholes on both sides out and start again with the younger people. People who aren’t embittered by the past. The past has happened and has to be remembered, but it shouldn’t be affecting the future.

This is a complicated little country. I love it here. I love this country. I love the people here. It’s like no country in the whole world. The sense of humor here. The people have huge hearts, and that’s because they’ve been through so much shit. It’s about time that we’re looking forward instead of looking backward. I can’t see it happening anytime soon. We have government here who’s paid to be in government and they’re not actually doing work because they won’t talk to each other, and they’re getting paid as civil servants, and they’re not actually there. It’s a really bad joke, and the only people who are laughing are them, the politicians.

Where do you want to be then? What do you actually want to do?

I would like to be doing what I’m doing, exactly what I’m doing. Maybe a little slower pace. I would like to still have a voice. I don’t want to disappear. You never know what’s going to happen, man. I’m not like a Zac Efron Hollywood type. It’s not like I have 20 other people who look like me. It’s pretty much only me, so I’ll just continue to be who I am and try to be real. I try to pride myself on being real. I have a hard time not telling the truth, but that gets me in trouble all the time. But is that a bad thing? I don’t think it is.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

#TheFutureIsQueer is HuffPost’s monthlong celebration of queerness, not just as an identity but as action in the world. Find all of our Pride Month coverage here.

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