Interview: Kristofer Hivju and Rory McCann say the ending of 'GoT' won't end how you think it will

Reta Lee
Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
Tormund and The Hound of ‘Game of Thrones’. (PHOTO: HBO)

Update: This article has been revised to correct Kristofer’s name, and attributed a quote to him.

We would last expect Tormund Giantsbane and Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane to become fast friends on cult TV series ‘Game of Thrones’, but the two characters have managed to create a friendship, bonded over witty banter, beyond the Wall in the last Season 7.

(Spoiler alert for those who have not caught up yet) To recap, Tormund (played by Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju) expresses his adoration for Brienne (played by Gwendoline Christie) to a clearly annoyed Hound (played by Scottish actor Rory McCann): “I want to make babies with her. Think of them: great big monsters.” A bromance hence clearly forged, whilst the fighters part at Eastwatch.

The two gentle giants spoke to Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore face-to-face in London on training hard for the fight scenes, drone wars on location set, and the memorabilias they brought home after the last day of filming. Give them a spin-off series, already!

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Rory McCann as The Hound. (PHOTO: HBO/Jonathan Ford)

How does it feel now that the show has come to an end?

Rory: I’m happy (to have played this part) for the past eight years; it’s been good fun but you know, I’m glad it’s over. I’ve been limping about for the last few seasons, carrying weights on my shoulders and stuff, so I’m looking for peace now.

Kristofer: I think the difference between this show and others is that it’s always been one story, it’s been one arc and it’s not like we’re gonna have to reboot every season. It’s always been one story and one journey for all of us and we knew that it’s going to have a start and an ending.

Share with us some of the more memorable fight scenes.

Rory: Well when I first started doing the fight scenes, I was in the cave with Beric Dondarrion (played by Richard Dormer), and it was really, really hard going by the day. I think we were three or four weeks into training, and we had to get it right. I’m also thinking of the battle, with the fight with Gwendoline (who plays Brienne of Tarth), and all those choreography goes out the window.

Kristofer: It’s been like forever; every season there had to be lots of training to get it right, and to make it safe. I actually started playing squash in season three because you know, it’s all the same movements you have. It’s been tough, and I’m glad I’m sitting here without any major injuries.

Both of your characters have witty lines. Did you expect the both of them to be friends?

Rory: We love the comedy scene when we all met. I recollected the camera shoot in Iceland, when we’re all fighting death in that open frozen lake, back to back. It has been great fun!

Kristofer: Yeah Tormund started out as an antagonistic character, who changed (allegiance) to join Jon Snow’s team, and every season has some character development. When I read the lines for the first time, I did not see him falling in love, and when he left home, he cried… so for every season there are new sides of him to enjoy and explore. It feels like he’s becoming a whole human being.

Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane. (HBO/Jonathan Ford)

Were there any funny situations behind-the-scenes?

Kristofer: We’ve created a band, with (Iain) Glenn on guitars and co-stars Richard Dormer and Rory. We play in our black tent with the heater on, and when there’s a storm outside….

Rory: You guys were also playing that awful game ‘Risk’ where the goal is to win the world, and that kept the spirit of winning the throne (laughs)

Why do you think this show is so successful?

Rory: When you have three units in three different countries with nine cameras shooting at the same time, you have so many people putting out the best game – and all their effort – into something fantastic. Thousands of people have created the show and everybody has given everything, and I think that’s the magic of it. You have fantastic writing and a classic story, and you can create miracles.

Kristofer: You get a sense that they were giving it all and it’s the greatest show on TV. Everyone just bloody on with it and working their asses off. Everybody from all departments are so proud to be part of it.

Did you get to take home memorabilia from the set?

Rory: The storyboard artists gave out some beautiful strips to all of us.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 03: Gry Molvær Hivju, Kristofer Hivju, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson and Kelsey Henson attend the ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 NY Premiere After Party on April 3, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)

What was the last day of filming on set like?

Kristofer: When we were wrapping up, my wife started to cry and I was like, why is she crying? (laughs) We’ve been (filming) for six years in Belfast and Iceland, and when you do a gig like that… I have a family and we’ve done something with all of them together. So it feels like a period of your life has ended but still, it’s many years of intense hard work and joy, so it’s a nice way to go up.

We read some comments that fans want a spin-off series for the both of you.

Rory: Oh yes, I’m available (laughs)

How is it like to deal with the secrets and spoilers in the last season on set?

Kristofer: The security was extremely tight this year even more than last because we have the drone issue. One day, there were police on set and they said they have killer drones so police had drones to take down the other drones, like a drone war!

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 03: Rory McCann attends the ‘Game Of Thrones’ season 8 premiere on April 3, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/FilmMagic)

‘Game of Thrones’ has some of the most devoted fans in the world. Do you have any funny fan stories to share?

Rory: Yeah, you get super excited fans; I’ve been to a couple of ComicCons so I’ve seen it all. Sometimes fans realise McCann is actually quite like The Hound when he’s approached at the wrong time, or when he’s been drinking for ten hours. It’s made me slightly more reclusive…. I had a birthday party for my kids and I had 20 small girls to take care of, and they were going in all directions. It was a big chaos for me to keep them together and then a bunch of young guys came up and (imitates The Hound’s voice) no, you don’t understand, this is not the situation!

So they went away (laughs).

Why do you think the show became such a phenomenon?

Rory: It’s just the writing material… you’re on the edge of the seat, wondering what’s going on.  To be honest, I don’t understand. The amount of characters in this tale! How they managed to put that down on paper, get the script, get rid of a few characters and follow through with the stories; it’s just unbelievable.

Kristofer: One thing is that there’s so many storylines, and people can connect with different characters. So there’s something for everybody. It has the element of sports; that it can change whenever and that makes it unpredictable. You can’t stay ahead and that’s also why there’s (sic) so many fan theories, and people thinking about possible outlines. I feel like, nobody knows what’s going to happen and it’s not going to happen as you think it would.

The eighth and final season of GAME OF THRONES will debut in Asia same time as the U.S. on Monday, 15 April at 9am, with a same day encore at 10pm, exclusively on HBO GO and HBO. New episodes will premiere every Monday at the same time.

This story is the result of a trip that was sponsored by HBO Asia.