By Matt Gault
Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones season 6, episode 8 follow
For the last few years, Icelandic actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson has been a cult favourite among Game of Thrones fans. Perhaps it’s his gargantuan, 6ft 9in frame that helps fans refrain from ever saying anything negative about him, or perhaps it’s because his character can pulverise a Dornish prince’s skull like he was crushing a Creme Egg.
However, while Björnsson remains close to the hearts of the Thrones fanbase, another Nordic star has been generating all kinds of buzz on Twitter about the upcoming climax to season 6: Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, who played Lem Lemoncloak in ‘The Broken Man’ and ‘No One’ episodes of Thrones season 6.
Haukur, an avid fan of the show as well as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series, has heartily embraced his status as an emerging cult favourite, regularly teasing fans about upcoming storylines and answering any questions put to him (as long as it doesn’t involve explicitly revealing spoilers). It was refreshing to see from Haukur, who took more time out of his schedule to speak to SquareEyed about his time on the show.
“The experience as a whole was a great one,” Haukur said.
“It’s such a big production, and things on that kind of scale always are such an adventure. You get to travel to another country, meet new people and that’s always exciting. It doesn’t hurt when it happens to be the biggest TV show in the world.”
— Jóhannes Haukur (@johanneshaukur) June 12, 2016
Haukur was cast after sending in a self-recorded audition tape and it was a mix of relief and ecstasy when he’d been cast, mainly because he had missed out on a previous role – a character named STYR – in season 4.
“I was able to audition from the comfort of my home,” he said.
“I had previously auditioned for a character called STYR in season 4 but I didn’t get that one. It all comes down to having the right representation. I have managers in L.A. (Matt Floyd and Matthew Seamons at Crimson Media) and an agent in the U.K. (Oliver Azis at Independent Talent Group) who are so good at what they do. Those guys really have done great things for me since I signed with them. I’m really thankful for them.
“When I found out I actually had been cast in the show I was ecstatic to be honest. Just walking on clouds that day. My wife who is an avid reader of the books was very intrigued, because she didn’t recognise my character’s name. In the audition he was called Lachlan.
— Jóhannes Haukur (@johanneshaukur) June 10, 2016
That, of course, turned out to be a pseudonym for Lem Lemoncloak, the Brotherhood Without Banners member who is notorious among book readers for being a trusted lieutenant to Lady Stoneheart, the vengeful reanimated form of Catelyn Stark, who assumes command of the Brotherhood. In the show, Lem was introduced during The Broken Man, which led to Lemoncloak and his two companions brutally slaying Ian McShane’s Brother Ray and his band of followers. For Haukur, the experience of working with McShane and Rory McCann’s The Hound was a memorable one.
“What really feels good on a show of this caliber, is that once you step in front of the camera, and your fellow actors are there, things feel familiar all the same. You’re just a couple of actors, trying to tell a story with the directors and a DP [director of photography]. It’s essentially the same whereever you go. Not that it’s easy, just familiar. And that’s nice. Ian and Rory also happen to be the nicest guys in the world. I spent some time with Rory in Belfast and just had the time of my life. He’s great fun to be with.”
Lemoncloak’s death in ‘No One’ dealt a massive blow to the theory that Lady Stoneheart’s appearance was imminent. Lemoncloak was hanged by The Hound, who we saw in the throes of a murderous rampage to exact revenge on the Brotherhood’s slaying of Clegane’s newfound friends in the Riverlands and although he would have enjoyed a showdown with The Hound, Haukur believes he got his ‘fair share’ of time on the show.
“It was a bit of a shock. I kinda thought it would be more. But that’s just being selfish, I got my fair share. A fight scene with the Hound would be great. Although I’m sure he’d come out on top.”
— Jóhannes Haukur (@johanneshaukur) June 6, 2016
Perhaps playing a merciless and rogue member of the Brotherhood suited Haukur well, who revealed to us that he loves the ‘vile and disgusting’ side of the show’s most deplorable character: Ramsay Bolton.
“He’s just so vile and disgusting. Those kinds of things are always so interesting to me,” Haukur explained.
“The way Iwan Rheon plays him is just perfect. He obviously enjoys doing it, and I like watching him do it. I’m so excited for the Battle of the Bastards! And yes, I’m totally routing for King Ramsay Bolton. I just wanna see that guy do bad things. That’s all I want in life.”
Despite his constant teasing of Lady Stoneheart’s debut on Game of Thrones, Haukur says he has absolutely no idea what happens next — he will be watching with great anticipation, just like the rest of us, as season 6 reaches an exciting climax.
“I have no idea what happens now. It’s not like they tell you what’s gonna go down after they hang you [a fair point, we may add]. It’s all very much on a need to know basis. Even the script I got didn’t say it was the Hound or Clegane that was after us. He was called Harlan in the script. I only found out it was the Hound when I arrived in Belfast for a costume fitting.”
As for his all-time favourite characters (aside from Ramsay), Haukur likes Cersei and, of course, The Mountain.
“The whole Ramsay and Reek sequence just had me on the edge of my seat. I just sat their amazed at where they were taking this story. That’s my favourite. Also one of my favs is when The Mountain fights Prince Oberyn,” he told us.
— Jóhannes Haukur (@johanneshaukur) June 13, 2016
Haukur’s short but highly-popular time with Game of Thrones may have come to an end but never fear – if his personality has captured your imagination over the past couple of weeks, you’ll be able to catch him in a slate of exciting upcoming projects.
“I have a couple of films coming out. I play a Russian KGB officer in The Coldest City (also starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy) and I just wrapped on Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, The Book of Eli)’s latest film called The Solutrean. That one is pretty big for me, I play the second lead in the film (X-Men’s Nightcrawler Kodi Smit-McPhee is the main guy). I get to be a good guy in that one, so that’s nice. I am set for filming on a TV show this summer, but things haven’t been finalised so can’t say what that is just yet. But I’m very excited about that one. The role they want me for is something old Lemoncloak would be happy about.”