From Rugby to Dothraki: Joe Naufahu is Game of Thrones’ Newest Cast Member

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From Rugby to Dothraki: Joe Naufahu is Game of Thrones’ Newest Cast Member

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For the past five years, HBO has given its viewers nonstop action, emotion, and surprise with the hit series
Game of Thrones. The show is based off of George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Fire and Ice.
A new face on the sixth season is Joe Naufahu, who plays Khal Moro, a member of the Dothraki. His previous work includes roles in Spartacus: War of the Damned, The Kick, The Last Saint, and Auckland Daze. Before his acting career, Naufahu was a professional rugby player for the Glasgow Warriors.

We talked with him to see how he prepared for his role and what the future holds for his acting career.

Maniac Magazine: How did you get ready for this Game of Thrones role?

Joe Naufahu: Preparation is everything, and when I landed the role I knew I had to be ready physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Thankfully, the way that I train and the environment that I train in at my gym, Ludus Magnus, covers all those bases. Dothraki are Warriors, men of the land, tough and uncompromising. They live outside their comfort zones. These traits are the exact traits that we breed at Ludus. I train mostly with bodyweight, and when I need resistance I opt for the more unconventional training equipment—tires, ropes, kettlebells, and bars. In fact, the hardest preparation for me was the language. Twice a week in the lead-up, I would Skype with the language expert, Jan, who was amazing. We would spend a couple hours at a time going through the Dothraki language and perfecting my speech. So crazy knowing that this language is completely fabricated!

MM: Were you a fan of GOT or the books before this role?

JN: I was definitely a fan of the show. I hadn’t read any of the books. To be honest, I had watched all of the seasons except for 5, but I made up for that by watching the whole season on my flight over to the UK for my wig and beard fitting. It’s a 24-hour flight, so there was plenty of time for it, and maybe a couple hours of sleep in there somewhere, too.

MM: This story will be in print once the new season begins, but is there anything we should
look forward to?

JN: There is everything to look forward to. I won’t be giving any spoilers, but you guys are gonna
love the new season.

MM: Do you have a favorite GOT character?

JN: Tyrion Lannister, without a doubt. He is the man. He’s also my mum’s favorite and meeting him was actually the highlight of my mum’s premiere night. Thanks, mum!

MM: You used to be a professional rugby player. How did you go from that into acting?

JN: I had some bad knee injuries which forced me into early retirement. My older brother, Ren, is a writer/director, and he opened a door into the acting world for me which I bolted through. I really needed something to fill the void left behind when I couldn’t play footy anymore. To me, acting required a lot of the same values, and it definitely ignited a fire in me again. Something I was desperate to do. 

MM: How do you see your acting future? Is there a dream role you have? 

JN: It’s a tough game, but I’m gonna give it my best shot. I love acting, and I am constantly learning. As long as I’m still feeling the burning passion for it and I can still affect people with my performances, I will continue to act. I would love to land a solid role on something with real grit. I’m a massive fan of The Wire. Loved everything about the show, and there were definitely roles on there that I was like “Damn, I would love to play that!” And, of course, growing up it’s every kid’s dream to be a superhero, right? Oh well, guess we’ll just have to see what pops up out of the woodwork.   

You can watch Joe Naufahu on HBO’s Game of Thrones on Sunday nights at 9 p.m.

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