Spoiler warning: The following discusses a major plot twist in Sunday’s Game of Thrones (S6 E5 “The Door”).
Game of Thrones fans aren’t the only ones hard hit by the tragic loss of Hodor.
Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss say losing the earnest character and actor Kristian Nairn was rough on them too.
“He’s not somebody you think of as a main character, but he’s slowly, stealthily become an integral association with the show,” Weiss said. “‘Hodor’ is the one word you can say to somebody and immediately evoke the show or the books. And he’s just been quietly there in Bran’s storyline, being lovable with his delivering the hell out of many, many ‘Hodors.’ I think people will be surprised how hard it hits them emotionally.” Added Benioff: “It’s always interesting when we do the death calls; the Hodor one was particularly tough … [The Hodor twist came] from one of our conversations with [author George R.R. Martin]. This is one of his ideas that he told us in Santa Fe. We thought it was f–king fantastic.”
Bran’s longtime companion and protector perished in Sunday’s hour “The Door,” swarmed by an army of wights after heroically saving Bran’s life. Bran stayed too long watching a vision of the White Walkers’ undead army, allowing the Night’s King to learn his location, and provoking in an attack that led to Hodor’s demise. But before he perished, fans learned why Hodor is only able to say one word — Bran inadvertently ruptured young Hodor’s mind by giving Hodor’s younger self the urgent command to “hold the door” during the attack years later.
Hempstead Wright said he was wrecked by the twist and that his character was responsible for so much tragedy. “It’s so sad!” he said. “We learned Hodor really is this vulnerable soul, who had such potential to live a happy life. First, through [Bran’s] selfish actions, going to the White Walker vision in the first place, I’ve screwed him over. He didn’t pick up that he should get out of the dream. And then Hodor sacrifices himself. He’s been through all this and he’s still having to do this.”
Hempstead Wright, now 17, recalls first meeting Nairn when he was working on the show’s pilot. “Kristian is one of my best friends,” he says. “As an ice breaker when we first me, he just handed me his iPhone to play with. I was playing the Harry Potter: Spells app. He says, ‘Whatever you do don’t drop my phone,’ and then I [accidentally] smashed it into pieces.”
While Thrones actors often look forward to seeing the reaction from fans to various twists, Hempstead Wright admitted to being a bit apprehensive about how fans will respond to “The Door.”
“It incapsulates the Game of Thrones world — the nice guys who deserve looking after don’t always get it,” he says. “It’s going to be mortifying when it airs. Bran would literally be nowhere without him.”
More: Our interview with Hodor actor Kristian Nairn; our deep-dive “The Door” recap; Gwendoline Christie on Tormund crush. And don’t forget to subscribe and listen to our Game of Thrones Weekly podcast (new episode posted below).