While the Hollywood community and fans all mourn for and pay tribute to legendary actor Bill Paxton who died Saturday, February 25 from heart surgery complications at the age of 61, a smaller portion of those people, and perhaps loyal followers of the HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones”, will also be saluting another fallen actor, albeit of more technically minor roles, who not only portrayed a physically imposing role in the show’s fourth season, but also played scholastic and later minor pro basketball in the US, as well as held several Guinness world records for height.

His name was Neil Fingleton, and he was the giant known as Mag the Mighty on “The Watchers on the Wall”.

A gentle giant

The news of Fingleton’s passing was relayed by his agent Kenneth Earle, who stated that the English actor died at 36 years of age also on February 25 in his hometown of Durham, England in the UK. The cause of death was not publicized but is believed to be a heart condition. Earle described Fingleton, who was confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the tallest man of British birth (7 feet, 7.56 inches), tallest in the European Union, and one of the 25 tallest in the world, confirmed in 2007. Despite his impressive height and some of the roles he portrayed like in “Game of Thrones”, Earle described him as a “gentle giant” in real life.

Large and in charge

Although British born and raised, Neil Fingleton decided to move to the United States to play basketball in high school. Upon entering college he got into the University of North Carolina (same as Michael Jordan) but then transferred to the College of the Holy Cross following back surgery. After graduation, he was on the minor ABA league before becoming a draft pick at the NBA Development League in 2005, but by then he returned to Europe playing in the English Basketball League and in Spain, before retiring from the sport and entering show business.

Aside from “Game of Thrones” and documentary appearances on account of his record height, he played minor roles in “X-Men: First Class”, “Jupiter Ascending”, “47 Ronin”, the 2015 “Doctor Who” series, and did motion capture for the main villain (voiced by James Spader) in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.

His death was commented on by his fellow cast members from “Game of Thrones”.

In particular, Ian Whyte who played alongside him as either another giant, a White Walker, and Gregor Clegane in the series tweeted his condolences for Fingleton.