Northern Ireland: Game of Thrones
Meet Flip Robinson, stand in for 'Game of Thrones' hero Hodor and super villain The Mountain.
Hanging Out with Hodor
My Game of Thrones adventure began along the Causeway Coastal Route - a scenic drive that follows an unforgettable coastline in Northern Ireland, packed with natural and cultural beauty, and of course Game of Thrones locations!
Arriving at today's destination, the seaside village of Ballycastle in County Down, I was greeted by Flip Robinson of Giant Tours Ireland.
Can you tell us how you landed the stand-in role of Hodor and the Mountain?
"It was by chance. I happened to be stationed at Larrybane managing the overflow of parking when I saw a line of 4x4s driving down like the American Secret Service. So, I stopped them, and I spotted several Game of Thrones stickers on their windscreen. I said: 'Oh, sorry, you're from Game of Thrones! I then discovered that they were the higher management having a meeting down on set.
Wanting to make them laugh, and to diffuse my embarrassment, I stood back, hands on my hips, chest out and asked: Do you need any really handsome tall beardy-looking guys? The manager laughed, but then he slowly turned serious, saying 'yes, yes we do'. Two days later I received a text: Are you available for filming?
My life was changed in such a good way from that chance meeting!"
What scenes where you involved in as the Mountain and Hodor?
"I was the stand in, off-camera, for the Mountain in Season 6 episodes The Winds of Winter and Oathbreaker, and in the episode The Door as a stand-in for Hodor in costume. I travelled to Shane's Castle in Antrim to shoot the scenes as stand in for the Mountain. The scene was Qybern's lab where Cersai introduced the newly revamped Mountain.
Playing Hodor was fun, but hard work. The take had me running away with Bran and the Three Eyed Raven. He was a tad heavy to carry and it took a hell of a lot of takes! In the scenes, as I'm running away with Bran, Leaf turns around with a fireball. The level of timing and choreography that went into that scene was amazing."
What cast did you get to meet and did you have any favourites?
"I met the actors who played Jamie and Cersai Lannister, Qybern, The Mountain, Hodor, Daario Naharis and Varys. I also got to see a scene being filmed at Larrybane Quarry, involving the Greyjoys.
If I had to pick a favourite it would be Hodor. Although, I loved the dynamic between the Hound and Ayra and how they seemed to morph into each other as their characters developed. And you gotta love Tyrion for his one-liners and for his empathy towards John Snow. Also, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who played Jamie Lannister is a phenomenal actor - to see him act first hand, reacting to my dirty look as he insulted The Mountain, was beyond amazing."
On meeting the producers of Game of Thrones:
"While the crew were setting up for their next scene, I was instructed to stare straight ahead and not move while the cameraman set up the shot for The Mountain’s eye level… This is when I hear an 'excuse us' which I ignore doing my job, staring straight ahead, and then another more forceful 'EXCUSE us!' The cameraman said 'It's okay Flip. I think you can allow them in.' I was ignoring and blocking executive producers DB Weiss and David Benioff from passing me! But thankfully I got them to laugh, so all was okay!"
What is your favourite GOT location in Northern Ireland?
"My favourite scene was shot at Murlough Bay, a landscape that represented Slaver's Bay in the region of Essos (Season 6, Episode 5: The Door). Even though I wasn't involved with the making of the scene, it felt so real to me."
At Murlough Bay you can locate exactly where Ser Jorah and Tyrian were hiding and then captured in Season 5, Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. It’s also the stretch of land that features in the scene with Yara and Theon Greyjoy galloping along the beach in Season 2, Episode 2: The Night Lands."
About our guest author Denise Henry:
Irish-born and bred Denise Henry is the content creator of the Ahch-To Way, a web-based resource that provides stories and travel guides for visitors and Star Wars fans coming to Ireland.