Game of Thrones stars Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Natalia Tena (Osha) delighted the C2E2 crowd with fond memories and complaints from their days on the set of HBO's wildly popular series. Tena revealed just how many rabbits she skinned, Nairn got into TMI territory describing Hodor's prosthetic man-parts, and both cast members made shocking confessions on who they would like to see on the Iron Throne!
Nairn entered the stage grunting a loud "Hodor!" The crowd Hodored back exuberantly as Nairn said, "It's always good for a cheap laugh!" Tena greeted the crowd, assuring them "not to be shy" before the moderator began with the first question.
When you get up in the morning and you look in the mirror and you realize that you are working on such a phenomenal project that really touches people's lives, what does that feel like?
Tena:I mean, you can't think about it every morning, but on the days when you're working on the job there, or when the series comes out, it's very humbling. It's incredible to be part of something that massive.
Nairn:I had no idea it would change our lives to this extent. I didn't think I'd be sitting in Chicago in front of - how many people? Like thousands. It is very humbling and I feel really happy that we get to do this, ‘cause I'm a geek myself. I used to go to these cons [as a fan] before this happened to me.
So clearly you were a fan of the genre of sorts of fantasy and science fiction. What did that mean to you growing up? Who were you a big fan of?
Nairn: I was a huge Marvel superhero fan. I was really into Thor and got a Thor tattoo when I was in school. I really like Xena, stuff with strong female role model. I like Wonder Woman as well, and I'm still waiting for a really good version of Wonder Woman to come out. I know that's not Marvel by the way.
How about yourself, were you a fan of the genre as well? (To Tena)
Tena: Well, into myths and legends since I was a tiny little girl. Then, I discovered when I was 21, somebody introduced me to Preacher, and I was like, what is this? I became very addicted to it and I bought all of them for about 50 quid and I felt like a drug user going, what else is there?" Then I got into Transmetropolitan, Hellboy, I just bought the rest of Stephen King's Dark Tower series…and I love Batman. Batman's got a very special part in my heart.
Tell us a little about the audition process for Thrones.
Nairn: I had done an audition about 5 years previous for the movie Hot Fuzz with Simon Pegg. Very strangely, the part I auditioned for was played by Rory McCann (who plays The Hound on GoT) It was the same casting director from Game of Thrones and I got a call. I was invited to a 40th birthday party and they had me carry a small child on my back. I had to carry him around a garden while these ladies all watched and it was really f***ing bizarre. I didn't understand it and was like, well this is shit. Then I told my mother I was up for this thing called Game of Thrones, and my mother was a HUGE fan of the books. She nearly fell off her chair, saying "take the part, Kristian, take the part!"
Tena: The book, I had never heard of it, or George R.R. Martin, who's amazing. When I went into audition, they didn't give me the entire script, they just gave me a few lines. It was one scene from the first season with me and a little boy and I was like, what is this? I've got a band called Molotov Jukebox, and when we were touring, we were doing these festivals. There was this little old man selling shit that you buy in festivals and bought this mad ivy and flower headpiece. I wore this weird brown dress that sort of looks like a bag, and I had some handcuffs, obviously. I went to this audition fully dressed up. It could have gone either way, they could have thought I was mad, but I think they liked it.
Tell us about the costumes you wear…
Tena: Well, mine's not special, it's basically a bag with like bits of dead animal on it. That's about it! In a way it means you don't have to worry about looking pretty ever. I just walk in looking rough, with a gross smile on my face and I wear a bag. It's great. I enjoy it a lot.
Nairn: My costume has been the same costume since day one, and they do what's called a break-down where they get all the mud and shit and they get the cobwebs off so it's never properly laundered. You can smell my costume from about a mile away. It smells like a barnyard. It's awful.
Is there a clause in your contract that states that your costume should be laundered?
Nairn: There needs to be!
Since you haven't read the books, has the script come to you and all of a sudden you said, "I can't believe we are going in that direction?" Has anything ever really surprised you?
Nairn: They could never surprise me on Game of Thrones. You can expect the unexpected for sure.
Tena: Sometimes when I read it, I was like, what are you talking about? I was in Brazil and I just threw the book. They looked at me like, are you going to get your period, or what? I screamed. I was so angry. So angry.
What was the moment you realized that this was more than just a successful show, what was the turning point for you?
Nairn: For me it was seeing the sets, and how much money and time HBO would put into all the costumes. Winterfell is still standing. They made a real castle, and it smelled like a castle.
Tena: There were goats!
Nairn: And real pigs. Dead pigs, live pigs. To go to that much trouble to create that size of a universe - it's so massively huge. It's so easy for people to buy into, and also as an actor it makes it so easy to do my job. You're in this real castle and you don't have to imagine. You're really there.
At this point in the panel, the moderator turned the questions over to the audience, and here are some highlights.
A fan from Hawaii asked who they would like to see on the Iron Throne.
Tena: Brienne of Tarth.
Nairn: Really, I wanna say a Stark. I think that the Starks deserve a little payback.
Tena: You know who I think Arya should marry? Gendry. That would be so hot!
A fan from Chicago asked about their reactions to the Red Wedding.
Tena: As I said, when I read the books, I was mental about it. But, when they were doing it, because I like things to be a bit more gruesome, I wish she had been a bit more pregnant when he stabbed her in her belly!
Nairn: For me, it was more fun watching other people's reactions.
A fan from Chicago asked about how they dealt with the hardships of bad weather on the set.
Tena: Humor? Coffee? Lots and lots of coffee. I'm not really a breakfast person, but on set you need to fuel the f*** up. Get everything - eggs, bacon - because you need it for your body to be warm.
Nairn: It was always either too hot or too cold. You're too wet, you're too dry, it's too windy. It's just horrible conditions in the bogs of Ireland in shitty weather.
A fan asked Nairn if the cold weather lead to any "shrinkage problems" on the set.
Nairn: Shrinkage? Well, firstly, it was a prosthetic. It was 15 or 16 inches long. If you looked at the props sheets, it was listed as prosthetic penis pants. It was like this horrible thong and the pubic hair had to be glued and plaited to my own, by a very lucky make-up girl. For weeks, I had a bit of false minge stuck in my pubic hair. Being an actor is very dignified.
A fan asked Tena how many rabbits were killed while filming her scenes.
Tena: I skinned 45. I also had to skewer them and rip off their heads as well.
Nairn: At one point they ran out of rabbits and they had to staple the fur back onto the skinned ones. They were all ethically killed.