A funny thing happened to Kristian Nairn after his first season playing Hodor, the vocabulary-challenged giant who heaves a paraplegic prince onto his back, in HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Nairn, a house DJ in Northern Ireland, although not a popular one, started to get recognized by clubgoers. Then, by local newspapers. Then, by Rolling Stone, which published a story that outed Nairn as gay.
"It was the weirdest thing. It was like a second coming out," Nairn says. "I already told my mother when I was 12. I never thought of myself coming out as a big deal. I do understand why it's difficult for some people working in show biz, so I guess if being visible helps just one person feel a little less alone, then it's worth it."
But Nairn is used to questions about his sexuality, and he embraces them. On Saturday, Feb. 21, a "Game of Thrones" dress code will be in effect for Nairn's Rave of Thrones DJ set at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale, where theatricality, a massive iron throne and decorations inspired by the show's fictional world of Westeros will accompany Nairn and his turntables onstage. He says clubgoers should arrive as the show's most popular characters, including Jon Snow, Robb Stark and Cersei Lannister.
The 6-foot-10 actor on "Game of Thrones," says he was the house DJ for 11 years at the Kremlin club in Belfast before he joined the cast of the medieval-fantasy series. After he auditioned but failed to land a role in the comedy "Hot Fuzz" in 2009, Nairn says the film's casting director called him back to try out for Hodor.
"The rest is medieval history," quips Nairn, 39, whose worldwide Rave of Thrones tour will fill a yearlong hiatus from "Game of Thrones" (his character is reportedly absent in Season 5, which will premiere April 13). "I had no idea that Hodor would be so popular. I mean, there are Internet memes about me. [Executive producers] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] warned me, but I kind of let it pass. It still surprises me every day."
Nairn says he will spend the hiatus refining Rave of Thrones, which has grown to include Westeros-inspired costume contests, stage props and guitar playing.
"The idea with the costumes is almost like a school uniform," Nairn says. "It's something in common that everyone loves. Even those not in costume take part with swords and plastic crowns. It brings together a lot of very different people. To me, that's what clubbing should be all about."
Nairn welcomes all pressing Hodor questions from fans. Isn't Isaac Hempstead Wright, the teenage actor he totes on his back, too heavy to carry these days? Will he give fans piggyback rides? Or, more often: When will "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin finish his next book? (His answers: "Yes, ouch," "Hell, no" and "I don't know.")
Nairn's favorite questions concern LGBT issues and his repeating a single word of dialogue on "Game of Thrones."
"It's not easy, especially if you have to say, 'Hodor' 70 different ways," Nairn says. "Like any role in acting, it's just dependent on the scene. Some scenes are complex and tough, and some scenes you are standing around like a piece of furniture. Any actor will tell you that articulating nonverbally constantly is one of the toughest challenges in the profession. I just get on with it."
Kristian Nairn will perform 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20-$25. DJ LinderSMASH will open the show. Call 954-449-1025 or go to JoinTheRevolution.net.