Tormund Giantsbane has certainly endeared himself to fans since his first appearance on Game of Thrones. The wilding leader is a loyal friend and skilled fighter, plus he's basically a walking reaction gif in the making. He's also one of the few smart enough to appreciate Brienne for everything she is, which gets him a few points. Tormund is known in part for his signature look: he's got appropriately wild red hair, a huge bushy beard, and countless animal pelts strapped about his person. Perfect for a wildling, or Portland. But you won't believe what Tormund from Game of Thrones looks like IRL. Or how he used to look, anyway.
Norwegian-English actor Kristofer Hivju, who plays Tormund on the show, does tend to rock his wildling style outside of filming too. But a recent Throwback Thursday photo posted to the actor's Instagram account shows off a very different look. A distinctly beardless look. "The man has no beard..." Hivju captioned the picture, along with some helpfully descriptive emojis: regular blank-faced emoji vs. lion with a full mane.
And after seasons of watching him on Game of Thrones, it's definitely a little bit of a shock — though obviously Tormund is perfect just as he is, beard or no beard.
Hivju didn't provide any further details about the context of the throwback headshot, perhaps because it truly speaks for itself. Stick that beardless face and flowing hair on a romance novel cover, stat. Tune into him as the star of 1996's most popular historical drama on the BBC. Unfortunately it's a look Hivju seems to have left behind for now, because he's been rocking the massive beard for years. However, that doesn't mean he's not ready for a change.
Hivju seems to be hanging onto the beard specifically for Game of Thrones, because he told Vulture, "Now my beard is owned by HBO. [Laughs.] If you look at my beard, there's a small 'R' there, for the registered trademark symbol. It's not even my property anymore. I look forward to the day when I can shave it, when I can change my look to something fresh and new. [Laughs.] But now it's how it is."
Hivju may been looking forward to the day when he can shave again, but if his beard ever disappeared, it would probably mean that Tormund wasn't long for this world. In that case, it's best that Hivju sticks to his classic look. It's one that works for him very well indeed.