Norway! My twin is '˜Game of Thrones' warrior Hivju
o what happens when you finally meet your real-life lookalike?
In Al Mennie’s case you become his stunt double in a Norwegian TV drama filmed in the Arctic Circle.
The bearded big-wave surfer’s doppelganger just happens to be none other than Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju - better known as the fierce Wildlings leader Tormund Giantsbane in the HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones.
And their striking similarity became even more apparent when they met and worked on the forthcoming eight-hour thriller “Twin” – where Hivju plays a man who takes over his identical twin’s very different life and character.
Crew and locals found it hard to tell who was who, and even Al and Kristofer got mixed up.
Al, from Portrush, said: “I get mistaken for Kristofer on a regular basis, in particular by coach loads of tourists. I’m regularly in Ballintoy and the surrounding areas and coach loads of tourists come to see the filming locations and assume I’m him if I’m there.
“Even in Norway people were stopping me. I deliberately grew out my beard and hair so the make up and hair team could sculpt us to look as close as possible.
“I get glanced at, stared at, stopped and asked for selfies literally every day, sometimes several times a day, because I look so much like Kristofer.
“Even in Norway locals thought I was him. It’s pretty funny. When we finally met each other we were both amazed.
“After filming and watching it back I even asked if it was me or Kristofer. The likeness is incredible.”
And Al’s incredible likeness to the Game of Thrones icon became clearly evident to Gry Molvaer - Kristofer’s wife - who is an associate producer of ‘Twin’.
“Gry was tipped off about me when they were over here for Game of Thrones,” explained Al. “They followed me on Instagram and then the producer contacted my agent Tracey Hall of Style Academy back in April and filming was scheduled for August.
“When we first met it was very funny. Even when I surfed in Norway some people thought they were surfing with Hivju.
“I did various stunts in the water in the Lofoten Islands. They nailed it so well it is virtually impossible to tell who is who.”
An identity thriller, ‘Twin’ was co-created by Hivju and screenwriter-director Kristoffer Metcalfe and produced by Moskus Film for Nordisk Film Production.
With scenes shot among the dramatic landscape of Lofoten, an archipelago in Norway, the drama tells the story of a surfer bum who assumes his successful brother Adam’s identity after Adam’s wife accidentally kills him.
It has been described by the film press as a “Hivju passion project” with Hivju and Metcalfe developing the project over a span of 15 years.
Tomas Radoor, from Nordisk Film Production, said: “We are beyond excited to present Twin as one of our first major productions in Nordisk Film Series.
“This series has a rare quality of combining elements from the classic drama with the style of an ultra-modern thriller and an interesting setting. With such a strong creative team we are confident, that this is something new and unique in the making.”
Kristofer took to Instagram to say how much he enjoyed working alongside Al, who has travelled the world surfing for many years and is author of the inspirational book ‘Overcome or Succumb.”
“We all have a twin somewhere and here is mine. So great to have Al Mennie on board as my stunt double on our upcoming TV show Twin,” the star wrote.
“My wife and associate producer found this legend in the North of Ireland and it was a pleasure to work with him.”
Gry added: “So happy that I found the amazing Al Mennie to do Kristofer’s stunts in the upcoming TV drama Twin.”
Al was equally effusive in his praise for Kristofer, who won a Swedish Guldbagge for his performance in Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure” and starred as the villain Connor Rhodes alongside Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnsson in the eighth “Fast & Furious” instalment “The Fate of the Furious,” last year.
“It’s great to meet down to earth people like Kristofer and Gry and all the talented people crew they work with,” Al said.
“Watching Kristofer do his thing was incredible and it’s no wonder he is held in such high regard around the world as both an actor and human being.
“The series is for NRG channel which is apparently seen as Norway’s national station. It will be shown around the world on other networks and begins in March 2019.”