'Game of Thrones' Giant Played Basketball for UNC

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
March 29, 2000: Neil Fingleton #42 of Team East makes a slam dunk during the McDonald's High School All-American game at The Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
March 29, 2000: Neil Fingleton #42 of Team East makes a slam dunk during the McDonald's High School All-American game at The Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

Did you think the hulking giant in the epic battle on Sunday night's Game of Thrones was computer-generated? Think again!

That giant was played by an actual person, the 7-foot-7 Neil Fingleton. And if his name seems vaguely familiar, it's because he was a McDonald's All-American college basketball player!

[Related: This Week's 'Game of Thrones' Victim: 'I Cried Profusely, Like a Little Baby Girl']

Fingleton, who's originally from England, was recruited to play at the University of North Carolina. But he left after just two seasons and back surgery, and transferred to Holy Cross.

After graduating, he played briefly overseas before turning to acting.

"I have been doing acting work since my basketball career finished," he told the Daily Mail a few years ago. "Now I am concentrating on acting and trying to move to L.A. soon to jump in with both feet so to speak."

[Related: We Recap This Week's Epic Battle for Castle Black on 'Game of Thrones']

He's found some success, landing roles in X-Men: First Class (as a Russian bodyguard) and 47 Ronin (as Lovecraftian Samurai). And Fingleton started a clothing line for very tall men.

Neil Fingleton in 'Game of Thrones'
Neil Fingleton in 'Game of Thrones'
Neil Fingleton meets New Yorkers and tourists. (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Neil Fingleton meets New Yorkers and tourists. (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

But his memorable turn on Sunday's Game of Thrones has renewed interest in Fingleton. His menacing giant character, with the help of a huge mammoth, found a way to get into the Wall's once-impenetrable tunnel. But despite the mismatched odds, he was slayed by a small group of Night's Watch rangers at the inner gate.

[Related: That 'Game of Thrones' Viper vs. Mountain Fight, in a Word? Mind-Blowing]

As Britain's tallest man, Fingleton is sure to stand out wherever he goes. But he doesn't mind. "I always do what I want, some tall people may be restricted as they are constantly stared at or people ask the same questions over and over," he said. "This is the only bad thing about being tall — the stupid remarks and questions. Other than that, being tall is great."

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.