It’s no secret why Hafþór “Thor” Björnsson was cast as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on Game of Thrones. The 29-year old Icelander stands six feet nine inches tall, currently weighs 431 pounds, and has fallen just short of becoming the World’s Strongest Man twice. According to an interview with Men’s Health, Björnsson is currently bulking up in an attempt to claim that title along with another that has eluded him, the Arnold Strongman Classic.
Maintaining his fearsome girth is no easy feat, as Björnsson eats 10,000 calories per day in addition to daily workouts and heavy lifting four days per week. “It’s a full-time job to be this size,” he admits. Perhaps it’s worth it, though, as his large stature was to him receiving an audition for Game of Thrones back in 2014 – a moment which had a profound impact on his life.
Björnsson was surprised to get the call. “I thought it was some kind of joke. I had no acting experience. I was just a big dude competing in Strongman.” He did have to recite a few lines during the audition, but his size and athleticism were instrumental in winning the role of The Mountain. “A lot of big guys can’t bend down, have knee pain, are slow,” Björnsson says. “I’m fast. I’m flexible, especially for my size.” He even impressed the sword fighting specialist, CC Smiff, who ultimately offered him the part.
Being on Game of Thrones allowed Björnsson to quit his job in bank security and focus solely on strongman contests and playing The Mountain. “I knew it was a huge thing for me, but I didn’t know how huge. It was a fucking huge U-turn,” he states. His fame led to commercials, becoming part owner and spokesman for Icelandic Mountain Vodka, and opening his own gym.
Björnsson may even consider moving to America to pursue acting full-time once he finishes achieving his goals in strongman competitions. He certainly fills a niche, admitting, “I’m unique. You cannot go out on the street and find guys my size. If you want a big ass motherfucker with a lot of muscles – and great ass – call me!”
Be sure to check out the entire interview with Björnsson over at Men’s Health.