updated 06/02/2014 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/02/2014 AT 12:15 PM ET
Few minor characters on Game of Thrones have made as much of an impact (sorry) as Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, the villainous Lannister henchman who, in Sunday night’s memorable trial by combat, showed exactly why everyone’s been whispering his name in fear for four seasons.
Here are a few things to know about Hafthér Björnsson, the Icelandic strongman who brought the Mountain to life.
He is literally one of the strongest men in the world.
At 6’9” and over 400 pounds, Björnsson has put his physique to the test in various strongman competitions. After previously finishing in third place in the World’s Strongest Man competition, this year he came in second. Here is a video of him throwing a washing machine, which is a thing that happens when you’re trying to find the strongest man in the world.
He’s the third actor to play the Mountain on Game of Thrones.
Conan Stevens played Gregor Clegane in season one, most famously in a scene where he chopped off his own horse’s head. Veteran stuntman Ian Whyte took over the part when Stevens left for a role in The Hobbit; his lanky physique created a mini fan freakout in season two. When bulky Björnsson assumed the role, fans breathed a sigh of relief.
He did the entire trial by combat without a stunt double.
As Björnsson told the Hollywood Reporter, “How are you going to find a guy of my size and build to be my stunt double?” The result was an “exhausting” shooting process – as Björnsson explained, “There were retakes upon retakes the hone the scene to perfection.”
He’s younger than the man who plays his baby brother.
Björnsson is 25; Rory McCann, the actor who plays Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, is a whole two decades older.
He almost played in the NFL.
In 2013, eccentric Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay sent out a mysterious Tweet hinting the team was thinking about signing Björnsson – whom he dubbed “The Icelander” – to a professional contract.
Off/Def Lineman,so many 6-3 to 6-7..320-365 lbs/Big,Physical and Nasty! Speaking of size/strength..GM Grig’s just might sign “The Icelander”
Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) May 13, 2013
There’s no word on how close negotiations came, and Björnsson would have been the very definition of a raw prospect. But it’s intriguing to think about what he would have been able to do on the field, even if Sunday afternoons would have been an adjustment from Sunday nights. After all, unlike poor Oberyn Martell, NFL players wear helmets.
Speaking of, Oberyn Martell actor Pedro Pascal posted a photo of himself alongside Björnsson on Monday, just for fun:
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