You don’t really grasp from watching Game of Thrones the staggering size of Ser Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. The Mountain. He’s played by actor and professional Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus “Thor” Björnsson, who stands 6-foot-9, weighs nearly 400 pounds, and holds world records for things like carrying fridges in each hand. Then he puts on his boots, his bulky golden armor, and towering mountain-like helmet. And when he walks toward you, the effect is jaw dropping — and more than a tad scary. The Mountain is so massive, you feel like you’re somehow watching a computer generated special effect in real life.
Sitting down for a chat, Björnsson is entirely unlike his character — very sweet and soft spoken. Yet he does have one conviction that we suspect the now-silent Clegane shares: He must eventually fight his brother, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane — and predicts he will beat him. Here’s our interview (and if you read his quotes in a heavy Icelandic accent, they’re even better).
Entertainment Weekly: What kind of reactions do you get from Game of Thrones fans?
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson: I get big reactions from fans. They’re very nice, and loyal to the show and great supporters.
Do they ever make requests of you?
I get a lot of requests fans asking if I want to squeeze their eyes. That’s very popular. Or pick them up over head. But the most popular to squeeze their eyes out.
Ah, like The Mountain did do Prince Oberyn. So do you do it?
I don’t lift anyone. Usually just girls. I have had to say no because if I’m going to lift one person then so many others are going to ask to be lifted too. If it’s just one person, okay, but it’s crowded then I know others are going to ask. You have to try to be fair to everyone you know.
What’s been your favorite Mountain moment so far?
Season 4 when I filmed the [Red Viper] fight with Pedro Pascal. I enjoyed the most because I had the most action.
Do you think The Mountain will ever fight The Hound?
That’s definitely something I would like to see. And for most of the fans, it’s something they’re all waiting for. It looks like it’s going to go that way, but who knows?
How do you think that fight would end?
I haven’t seen it yet in my head how I would kill him, but somehow I would smash his head or kill him like that. I think the fight would be quick rather than something long. I think people would be expecting a big fight but I would finish him really fast. It would be a surprise to people.
So you think The Mountain would win then?
What’s the heaviest, most ridiculous object you’ve ever lifted?
That’s a good question. Last year I broke a 1,000-year record in Norway lifting a wooden log that weighs 650 kg [1,433 pounds].
What constitutes “lifting” when it’s that heavy?
It was on my shoulders and I lifted it up. The record was three steps. I took five steps with the log and broke the record. Orm Storulfsson, a Viking, held the record from 1,000 years ago. It took like seven mortal men to help him lift it onto his shoulders. He took those three steps and then his back actually broke from the enormous pressure. He was never the same. He died not long after that.
And how are you?
My back is still fine.
Do you ever get big guys wanting to fight you like at bars and parties and stuff?
I don’t really party that often. Because of my schedule, my sport takes a lot of sacrifices. I usually go to bed at 10 or 11 and wake up early to have my meals. Guys maybe are fooling around, they’re never serious. They might fake it and try to be tough but then they back off.
Will The Mountain survive Game of Thrones?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. To be honest with you, I think I will die at some point. I would like to live. I think it’s pretty obvious I’m going to die in a fight.
What if The Mountain ended up on the Iron Throne? Then he’d just be sitting up there, not saying anything, and nobody would know what to do.
It would be. Haha.
Here are a couple videos of Björnsson’s real-life record setting:
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