Kristian Nairn is a gentle kind of guy. Best known for his portrayal of Hodor, the large, simple-minded but fiercely loyal stable boy to the Stark family on HBO’sGame Of Thrones, he draws on the shyness from his teenage years when he’s acting. Yet for someone who plays a character who only ever says his own name (that now iconic line, “Hodor”), Nairn is surprisingly talkative. And what many fans of the show may not know about the actor is that when he’s not on set filming, he’s spinning discs in nightclubs around the world.
“I fell into that,” Nairn says. “I was working onstage in a local club and a DJ rang in sick one night. I’d studied DJing at a music college and offstage I had a vast music collection, so I volunteered to fill in, and from that night on I’ve just worked as a DJ. And it went very well, obviously.”
Nairn’s musical journey began from the moment his mum sat him down in front of the piano at three years old, and has since spanned from playing the pipe organ for The Phantom Of The Opera during high school to listening to heavy metal and finding an interest in dance music. DJing gave him a way of interacting with other people through music.
“It’s enjoyable to have a conversation musically with the crowd. I love changing music genres in house music. I mean, I always play house music, but I like to change the style. I love the sort of emotional rollercoaster that you take them on with you.”
Though Nairn has noticed that deep house is a popular trend amongst other DJs at the moment, he isn’t scared to shake things up a bit.
“All of my mixes are so different – I don’t like to stick to one genre of house. Sometimes you want a bit of cheesy EDM, you know what I mean? But it doesn’t mean you can’t stick it in with a bit of progressive or a bit of deep house. And if you’re a good DJ you can do that. It’s not a problem, but my house is so varied, because I’ve played it all over the years – so why not?”
With a music career spanning far longer than his acting career, Nairn has been DJing for 20 years. Yet despite his vast experience – longer than some of his Game Of Thrones fans’ lives – he still finds that people are shocked to hear about the other side of his persona.
“All of a sudden, you say one word in a popular show, and everyone wants to see a DJ! It’s really bizarre to me, but I’m happy to go with it.”
Nairn is very loyal to his homeland of Northern Ireland, but says that its nightlife isn’t one of its finest qualities due to the strict liquor licensing laws that have had a strong impact on the nightclub and theatre industries. He describes one of the advantages of the exposure from Game Of Thrones as being the opportunity to travel to many different countries, playing sets in all sorts of atmospheres.
And after learning on a recent promotional visit to Australia that there was significant interest in a DJ tour, Nairn is bringing a Game Of Thrones-themed show to our shores with his upcoming Rave Of Thrones tour. It accompanies the release of Nairn’s new single ‘Where You Are’ with Kash Simic and featuring Amanda Wilson (best known for her work with Avicii). Nairn is just excited to see how the crowd will engage with the track as part of the wider performance, which in his words, will be “dramatic and dark, but with a sense of humour”.
Though he won’t be dressing in full Hodor attire this time (“I’m not wearing that outfit, it’s hot enough!”), attendees will be expected to get into costume. He may not be in his full rabbit skins for the tour, but that doesn’t mean Nairn won’t be channelling some of Hodor’s qualities.
“I think he’s actually a beautiful person. He has a very pure soul, which is lovely to play, because I always say that if people were a bit more like Hodor – but maybe a little more verbose! – the world would be a better place.”
Without being biased, of course, Nairn says that his work with Isaac Hempstead-Wright (who plays Bran) has been one of his favourite Game Of Thrones storylinesso far. And when discussing one of the more dramatic scenes they shot together for the finale of the fourth season of the show, Nairn admits that he got a little bit choked up.
“We’re all emotionally involved in our characters, mostly because we’re all good friends and Isaac is like my little brother, and, you know, there’s definitely an emotional attachment there so you can see that.”
But despite Game Of Thrones’notorious reputation for killing off its most-loved characters, Hodor and Bran have managed to survive it all in the face of adversity. Nairn says that if anything can be learned from this, it’s that the other characters should take a page from Hodor’s book: “Keep their heads down and don’t say much.”