'Game of Thrones' Exclusive: Actor Rory McCann reflects on the Hound's renewed purpose
In the days leading up to the eighth and final season premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones on 14 April, we will be taking a look back at the show's four most fascinating supporting characters. Along with brief highlights that include their backstory, an iconic mic-drop moment and speculations on where they might be headed (read: dead), we'll be reminiscing with the outstanding actors who play them, in a Singapore-exclusive interview courtesy of HBO. Up next: the Hound played by Scottish actor Rory McCann.
Backstory: If there was anyone in the GoT universe who dutifully lives by the sword, it would most definitely be Sandor Clegane aka "the Hound" (and his brother "the Mountain" Ser Gregor Clegane of course). However, little is revealed about how his fighting days came to be. What is known, though, is how he got that terrible facial scar; his elder bro burnt the right side of his face after discovering him playing with his toy without permission when they were just kids.
Breakthrough: In the early seasons, the Hound served in House Lannisters' corner: first alongside King Robert Baratheon and then as Joffrey's Kingsguard. His alliances took a turn after he was confronted by his fear of fire during the cruel Battle of Blackwater. On the run, he met Arya but only to fall off a cliff in one-on-one combat with Brienne of Tarth. Down but not out, his life found new meaning when he gets revived. He joined The Brotherhood without Banners, who eventually get recruited by King in the North, Jon Snow.
Iconic mic-drop moment: So many battles, too little time. Add to that, the Hound has a filthy mouth, but if there was a defining moment for the man, it would have to be his trial by combat with Beric Dondarrion of the Brotherhood without Banners. Faced with Beric's fiery blade, he overcame his fears to strike down the man. "Looks like your God likes me more than your butcher's boy", he smirks but only to find Beric return from the dead.
Prediction: Only one man is left unchecked on the Hound's list: his brother. Dubbed as "Cleganebowl", the epic fight between the now zombified warrior at Cersei's side and the Hound is looking to be as highly anticipated as the one with the Night King's undead army. If the Hound managed to return from the near-death battle with Brienne, we're guessing it must have been for good reason. Our money is on the Hound coming out on top against The Mountain, maybe with a little help from Arya. After all, he has many sins to atone for, most probably at the side of whoever sits on the throne next.
How does the final season of Game of Thrones begin for your character?
He's part of the crew. He's not the loner any more. He's found some direction and meaning in his life. He still hates his brother but overriding it all, he's part of a mission.
What was the final all-cast table read like?
We made a big effort. When it's being read out and narrated, there's a lot of energy and people were going for it. There were a few actors that really — and I thought they were kidding on — that they hadn't read the script. They were waiting until that day. Kit (Harington) was one of them. He wasn't just pretending. He was sight-reading it and then you could probably see his face going, "Noooooo." It's emotional.
I remember we were stood up for the 10 minutes just clapping and we're looking at David (Benioff) and Dan (DB Weiss) was going, "Wow." My hair was on end just thinking about it.
So the millions of people out there looking forward to the final series...
Will not be disappointed. No, because they've got it in their own heads, those theories and stuff. It might not suit their version.
Looking back over the series, when was the moment you realised that everything had gone to another level?
A couple of seasons in really. I've been in denial for a long time — I haven't really watched much of it, so I'm going 'la, la, la...' I had a year off and even then you're still in the middle of nowhere and you suddenly pass a stranger in a really remote place and suddenly you hear, "Are you alive or are you dead?"
There's plenty that you'll miss of course from making Game of Thrones. Is there one thing that you won't miss?
Well, for me, it will be the costumes. I was always the first in just with this prosthetic on my face. The one for the burn. Every day. I will not miss that. Then when I was working around it, I usually had to have half a beard. This side all had to be shaved off. And then you go back home and people go, 'Listen, you need to sort that out.' I go, 'I'm working, I've told you this time and time again. When I have no beard on this side of my face, it means that I'm working.' 'Well, it looks ridiculous big man.'
Stream the eighth and final season on HBO GO (available on the App Store, Google Play, SingTel, StarHub, and Toggle) or watch the premiere on HBO (Starhub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420) on 15 April at 9am, with a same-day encore at 10pm, or catch it on HBO On Demand.