It’s said that, in romantic matters, opposites attract. And Game of Thrones star Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson appeared to prove that very adage when photos emerged of a romantic getaway that he made with his girlfriend. But why did the man known as The Mountain go viral simply by posing with his other half?
Back before Björnsson was ever cast in Game of Thrones, however, the 6’ 9” future star used his height advantage to pursue a career in basketball. He found some success in that sport, too, by playing for one of Iceland’s most dominant teams, Reykjavík’s KR. Then, in 2004, Björnsson made the first of 32 appearances for his country’s junior squad.
After an ankle injury cut short Björnsson’s basketball career, though, he began competing in strongman contests. And, again, he excelled: in 2010, for example, he was crowned the strongest man in Iceland and came out on top in five out of six disciplines at the OK Badur Strongman Championships that same year. In 2015, meanwhile, Björnsson hauled a log weighing 1,430 pounds for five steps to shatter a 1,000-year-old record at the World’s Strongest Viking competition in Norway.
By this point, meanwhile, Björnsson had also established himself on the World’s Strongest Man circuit. After placing sixth in his wild-card debut appearance in 2011, he went on to finish third in overall competition in 2012, 2013 and 2015. He’s also taken the runner-up spot on three occasions, losing to Žydr?nas Savickas in 2014, Brian Shaw in 2016 and Eddie Hall in 2017.
But Björnsson arguably shot to international fame after making his first appearance in Game of Thrones in 2014. The Icelander had been cast as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in the popular HBO show’s fourth season, assuming a role previously played by Conan Stevens and Ian Whyte. And Björnsson has continued to portray the character – renowned for his imposing frame, expertise in combat and vicious temper – in subsequent seasons.
Plus, Björnsson has made a foray into movie roles, too. He’s appeared on the big screen as Big John in 2017’s Zone 261, for instance, and is slated to play Psycho Phil Bell in Devilish Deeds. He also has a role in the forthcoming fantasy-horror Beast and will enjoy a high-profile outing as Mongkut in Kickboxer: Retaliation.
And the strongman’s kept himself busy when the cameras aren’t rolling as well. In 2015, for example, he portrayed Viking raiding-party commander King Thor at the Philadelphia Renaissance Faire. A year later, meanwhile, he fronted an April Fool’s Day spoof in which he claimed to have created his own brand of sparkling water named Heavy Bubbles.
Working on such a pop culture phenomenon as Game of Thrones, though, Björnsson has inevitably begun to attract attention wherever he goes. And while speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2017, the actor explained how he’s often asked to raise aloft star-struck fans. “I have had to say no, because if I’m going to lift one person then so many others are going to ask to be lifted too,” he said.
That’s not all that Björnsson has revealed about his private life, though. In 2014, for instance, he told Reddit users that he’s something of a gentle giant when it comes to romance. “Even though I am super-strong,” he said, “women have never complained of me not being able to handle them ‘softly.’”
But Björnsson later told Entertainment Weekly that his punishing workload often meant that his social life suffered. “I don’t really party that often,” the star revealed. “Because of my schedule, my sport takes a lot of sacrifices. I usually go to bed at ten or 11 and wake up early to have my meals.”
Nevertheless, Björnsson did eventually find some time for romance with petite Canadian Kelsey Henson. The pair first met at Earls Kitchen + Bar in Alberta when Game of Thrones fan Henson asked the star for a photo. The man known as The Mountain duly obliged; and, from there, the pair forged a connection.
And alongside her job at the restaurant where she first met Björnsson, Henson works as a field services administrator at Tervita Corporation, an environmental waste services company. She also spent a couple of years at the University of Alberta, leaving in 2014 with a certificate in occupational health and safety.
The picture that brought Björnsson and Henson together, meanwhile, almost broke the internet when it first appeared online. For standing at just 5’ 2”, Henson barely came up to Björnsson’s chest. However, Henson proved that she was aware of the height disparity by captioning the photo “#themountain #massive #giant #tiny #petite.”
What’s more, the couple’s size difference appeared to baffle some Instagram users when Henson began uploading pictures of their various romantic getaways to the social media site. One particular follower commented, “His hand is bigger than your head!” Another asked, “How do you kiss? Do you jump in his arms every time and wrap your legs around his waist? Please post a picture of this impressive action!”
Thankfully, though, rather than take offense at her followers’ lack of tact, Henson was able to see the funny side. She answered the question about how they kiss, for example, by writing, “He bends. I tip toe. Or [I] just say, ‘Screw it, pick me up.’”
And Henson also took to Instagram to gush about their first vacation together in Björnsson’s homeland. “I had the greatest time in Iceland this past week, met some awesome people and had some great experiences!” she wrote. “Thank you to @thorbjornsson for having me and introducing me to Iceland.”
But the couple’s globetrotting adventures didn’t end there. The pair also visited Cyprus and Spain shortly after, with Henson posting another loved-up picture of their time in the latter country on Instagram. She captioned the photo, in which she appears lying on Björnsson’s lap, “Throwback to warmer days in Spain with this guy!!! #date #love #myman.”
And Björnsson and Henson also appeared to have returned to Iceland together in late 2017. Henson first posted a sun-kissed throwback Instagram photo of the couple on December 23, 2017, captioned “four more days.” She then uploaded another loved-up picture on January 1, 2018, wishing her followers “Happy New Year from Iceland.”
Björnsson hasn’t been quite so forthcoming on social media, though. In fact, it took him until New Year’s Day 2018 to first share a photo of him and Henson together on Instagram. Tagging Henson, Björnsson captioned the picture, “Happy New Year to all my friends and followers. May 2018 bring you the best year yet. I promise I’ll be stronger and better!”
Perhaps this new development means that Björnsson is now in the relationship for the long haul, then. In addition, the fact that he and Henson have already been on a number of vacations together suggests that things are already getting pretty serious. Obviously, then, that size difference doesn’t matter too much at all…