You are a former Rugby player. How did you go from playing Rugby to acting?
I suffered a knee injury which forced me into early retirement. When I had to give up the thing I loved the most I had to look deep inside myself. I was blessed that I got the opportunity to experiment and instantly got the bug.
Do you think your background in sports has helped you with your acting?
I believe my whole life was a precursor to acting. I never went to drama school so I truly believe the every experience including my sporting ones have been the inspiration for all my performances. The hardships, the wins, the losses, the laughs, the cries, I try to draw on everything.
You own a gym in New Zealand called Ludus Magnus. Did you find inspiration for the name while working on Spartacus: War of the Damned?
When I retired from footy I went through a very dark period. I had lost everything and I felt embarrassed, lost, and unworthy. I didn’t really want to be around anyone but I knew to keep my sanity I had to workout. I’ve always been fit and healthy and I was gonna be damned if my injury was gonna stop me from training. So I started doing my own workouts at home in my backyard and down at the local park late at night when it was dark. When I was on my own training I felt like a gladiator,and I knew if I had it in me. Other people did too. In fact, I know that everyone has an inner gladiator. And that’s where the name comes from. When I set Ludus up, I set it up because I wanted to create a place where average Joe could come and unleash their inner gladiator. It is a school of training. People from all walks of life come to Ludus and learn about themselves. I take them to the dark place where they gotta ask themselves the tough questions. because when you answer those questions, you grow. It so happens that I got a role on Spartacus as a Gaul which I absolutely loved. But Ludus Magnus has never been about the swords, and the gladiator battles. The battle at Ludus is always within.
What was your reaction when you heard you won the role of Khal Moro on Game of Thrones?
I was on the road at the time and I had just finished a self-tape for something else where I had to use my 9-year-old girl as my reader and my 7-year-old son to hold the camera. I thought my agent was ringing to say wtf. (laughs). Anyway, they weren’t and I can remember getting off the phone and having a little cry with the cutest film crew ever and celebrating with them over a communal stack of pancakes that morning.
Were you a fan of Game of Thrones before you won the role?
Most definitely. I would often sit and imagine myself in various roles and annoying the hell out of the people watching it with me because I would constantly tell them how much I would love to get a role!
How is Khal Moro different from Khal Drogo?
I got nothing but huge respect for Jason he did an amazing job playing Drogo. I just hope the fans see Moro in his own light and that I gave the Dothraki a new flavour that they will enjoy watching.
Being a Khal you have to be in very good physical shape. What type of training do you do?
Ludus. All day every day. I didn’t change my training regime at all. I do a lot of bodyweight exercise at fairly high intensity. I enjoy using more unconventional training equipment like tyres, ropes, and kettle bells. I love training in a group in my classes and for at least an hour a day.
Do you have any advice for people trying to break into either acting or professional sports?
Go at with everything you have but be prepared if things don’t work out. Try things, you never know what it is that puts the fire in your belly until you try it. It could be playing an instrument or finding a trade, or even doing something in IT. Find that thing that you could do and not feel like it was work.
We at TNWU all have something nerdy/geeky about us. What is something nerdy or geeky about you?
Cause I guess I’m a bit geeky with a few things. I enjoy gardening. I like gaming. I love watching the food channel. I was a bit of a geek at high school cause they used to stream the classes from A down to like O and I was in the B stream.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday’s on HBO.
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