Tears, Strength, and Ten Thousand Calories with Game of Thrones' Thor "The Mountain" Björnsson


"I did not have experience with acting, and I did not have experience with crushing a man's face with my hands."

This New York Times story on Game of Thrones' Thor Björnsson details the caloric intake, exercise routine, and national obsession that powers the Icelandic strongman turned actor's 6' 9", four hundred pound frame.

Then there is the matter of his weight-lifting routine. Most hotel workout rooms do not have enough weight available to challenge Bjornsson, and although he occasionally finds decent health clubs on the road, it is rare to find a facility that can handle a man whose arms are so large that he once fell asleep while having a tattoo sleeve inked.

That is why, whenever he can, Bjornsson returns to this basement gym in Reykjavik, to the barren space that an observer describes as "sort of like a Brazilian prison." The gym's name, Jakabol, is perfect for Bjornsson: Roughly translated, it means Nest of Giants.

"It is simple here," he says, and by that he means that its authenticity helps him remember his most basic truth: Before he was on television lifting stones or flipping logs or even executing men with his palms, he was the same as every growing boy in Iceland. "For boys here, it is not complicated," he says. "We all just want to be strong."

And it's well worth checking out this video of Björnsson winning the 2014 Europe's Strongest Man competition, which ends with him shouting "I am the future of strength as I am king of the stones," a line worthy of George R.R. Martin himself.

Even Brutes Can Learn to Cry [The New York Times | Sam Borden]