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‘Game of Thrones’ The Mountain defends his World’s Strongest Man title

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‘Game of Thrones’ The Mountain defends his World’s Strongest Man title

The last time we saw The Mountain on “Game of Thrones,” he was hurtling to his death in a giant fireball at the end of a fight with his brother, the Hound, in King’s Landing.

Since then, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, the 6-foot-9, 441-pound actor who played the Mountain, has moved on.

He’s in Florida, defending his World’s Strongest Man title, with the finals on Sunday. Bjornsson, a native of Iceland, first won the title last year in the Philippines, and he may have the upper hand, now that he can devote more time to competition since “GoT” wrapped. (He also does commercials for Sodastream and is considering several other acting projects.)

“You have to be willing to work 365 days a year and be absolutely obsessed with what you want to achieve and if you’re willing to go that far then you’re able to be the World’s Strongest Man,” Bjornsson, 30, tells The Post. “I’m happy I was part of the show. It opened up a lot of other opportunities for me and I’m just grateful for that. I’m doing more acting, but I’m also focusing on strongman. Obviously, my goal is to be back-to-back champion.”

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While filming “Game of Thrones,” Bjornsson had to divide his time between the show and training for WSM — and that wasn’t always easy. It took seven hours to transform Bjornsson for the final battle between GoT’s Clegane brothers, where the Mountain’s helmet is taken off to reveal Qyburn’s back-from-the-almost-dead experiment, Coupling that with long shooting days — one lasting 18 hours — finding time to train was tough.

"Game of Thrones" actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Thor) “The Mountain” leads a march through the streets of Times Square to celebrate the launch of Monster Energy’s new performance beverage REIGN Total Body Fuel on April 16, 2019. He's out to defend his World's Strongest Man title following the "Game of Thrones" series finale.

“Game of Thrones” actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Thor) “The Mountain” leads a march through the streets of Times Square to celebrate the launch of Monster Energy’s new performance beverage REIGN Total Body Fuel on April 16, 2019. He’s out to defend his World’s Strongest Man title following the “Game of Thrones” series finale.
(Getty)

“The days could be very long and tiring. Training while your body needs rest can be even worse,” he says.

Finding the resources to train could also be difficult. “We need very specific equipment to train for World’s Strongest Man and it’s very hard to find this equipment in a normal gym. That’s why I have my own gym back in Iceland,” says Bjornsson.

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Growing up in Iceland, Bjornsson knew all about World’s Strongest Man because his fellow countrymen Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Magnus Ver Magnusson are each four-time titleholders.

They opened the doors for us, because we’re a small nation and to have won it nine times already, that’s very impressive. I think it shows that something is in the genes or maybe it’s the water,” he says.

With 11 WSM titles, the US is the only country with more wins than Iceland. One of Bjornsson’s top competitors in this year’s finals is Brian Shaw, representing the United States. Shaw has four WSM titles, with his last coming in 2016.

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“I can very much relate to being on the road and filming and trying to train. It’s a whole different ball game,” Shaw said.

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Shaw has a show premiering on the History Channel on July 7 called “The Strongest Man in History,” The show attempts to replicate the feats of strength from strongmen throughout history.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword if you will, because it’s great to have the opportunities but it also at times can take away from the training and recovery that you need to be the best at strongman,” says Shaw, who says he’s never seen a single episode of “Game of Thrones.”

Bjornsson’s competitors in the 42nd annual WSM finals my have their sights set on knocking him off the strongman throne, but to quote “GoT’s” Ser Bronn of the Blackwater: “He’s freakish big and freakish strong. And quicker than you’d expect for a man of that size.”

When asked whether the quote really fits him, Bjornsson says it does: “I’m freakish strong and freakish fast for my size, and I’m freakish big, so yes.”

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The 2019 World’s Strongest Man competition will be televised with the first episode on Sunday, June 30, on CBS. The next nine episodes will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network with the finals to be shown on CBS.

This article originally appeared in The New York Post.

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Former Heaven’s Gate follower says he tried to pull girlfriend out of cult before shocking mass suicide in doc

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Former Heaven’s Gate follower says he tried to pull girlfriend out of cult before shocking mass suicide in doc

After 18 years, Frank Lyford trusted his gut and left the Heaven’s Gate cult — along with the woman he loved.

The former follower recalled his terrifying ordeal in the upcoming episode of “People Magazine Investigates: Cults,” which is airing on Investigation Discovery (ID) on June 17.

FORMER CHILDREN OF GOD MEMBER RESPONDS TO DOC ON CULT

The show, which recently kicked off its second season, explores how ordinary people “who, lured by promises of eternal life, get caught up in a terrifying web of abuse, deception and manipulation.” It features reporters who’ve covered these harrowing cases, as well as former members.

Marshall Herff Applewhite speaks on videotape. Applewhite, who founded the organization known as Heaven's Gate, lead 38 others in a mass suicide near San Diego. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Marshall Herff Applewhite speaks on videotape. Applewhite, who founded the organization known as Heaven’s Gate, lead 38 others in a mass suicide near San Diego. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Past subjects have included the Jonestown Massacre, Nation of Yahweh, Children of God and the Tony Alamo Ministries, among others.

“It was this deep, gut-felt misgiving of remaining in the group, remaining in the cult,” said the now-65-year-old in the documentary, as reported by People magazine Friday. “I couldn’t express it at the time and I didn’t know what my life would look like — what it’d be like adjusting to life outside of the group — I just knew I couldn’t remain in the cult anymore.”

ALAMO CULT SURVIVOR DESCRIBES HORRIFYING BEATINGS: ‘I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE BEYOND THIS’

History.com reported the cult was led by Marshall Applewhite, a former music professor who was recruited by one of his nurses, Bonnie Lu Nettles, after surviving a near-death experience in 1972. The pair then persuaded a group of 20 people from Oregon to abandon their possessions and move to Colorado where they promised an extraterrestrial spacecraft would take them to the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles are arrested by local police on August 28, 1974. Applewhite is charged with auto theft and Nettles is charged with the fraudulent use of credit cards. The two are believed to be the same who persuaded a number of people from Oregon to give up their worldly possessions and follow them in awaiting a UFO. They are leaders of a new sect called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis), better known as Heaven's Gate.

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles are arrested by local police on August 28, 1974. Applewhite is charged with auto theft and Nettles is charged with the fraudulent use of credit cards. The two are believed to be the same who persuaded a number of people from Oregon to give up their worldly possessions and follow them in awaiting a UFO. They are leaders of a new sect called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis), better known as Heaven’s Gate.

The outlet shared that both Nettles and Applewhite insisted human bodies were “merely containers” that could be disregarded for a higher physical existence. Membership diminished after the spacecraft never arrived and Nettles died in 1985. The group resurfaced in the ‘90s as Applewhite started recruiting new members. After the 1995 discovery of the comet Hale-Bopp, members believed that an alien spacecraft was on its way to earth.

Lyford and Erika Ernst had been dating for two years when the couple came across Applewhite and Nettles during a 1975 Oregon camping trip. They soon sold their belongings. Lyford defected in 1993.

Lyford soon found himself in his parents’ Canadian home. And two days later, he received a call from “the love of my life.”

According to People, Ernst pleaded Lyford to return and he asked her to leave. The 40-year-old never did.

Erika Ernst — ID

Ernst, along with 37 other followers, died by suicide over three days in 1997. Their bodies were discovered inside a Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. compound after someone called police with an anonymous tip. The deceased ranged from ages 26 to 72. People magazine previously reported the members left video diaries explaining their reasons for the mass suicide.

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History.com reported that the mass suicide occurred around the same time Hale-Bopp reached its closest distance to Earth. Applewhite, who was among the dead, convinced the group they needed to “free their mortal souls in order to board a spaceship that was trailing behind the Hale-Bopp comet” heading towards a distant planet called “The Next Level.”

The bodies were found dressed in black suits with matching Nike sneakers and plastic bags over their heads. All had willfully ingested apple sauce laced with barbiturates, which was also washed down with vodka. Each had their IDs in their pockets.

A young Frank Lyford. — ID

A young Frank Lyford. — ID

“I knew it was the same group I was a part of, so it was a very emotional time for me, from the standpoint of feeling the loss of all my friends who I had been with for 18 years,” admitted Lyford.

FORMER NATION OF YAHWEH FOLLOWER RECALLS ESCAPING RUTHLESS CULT IN NEW DOC: ‘I RAN AS FAST AS I COULD’

Lyford said he wished he’d pushed Ernst harder to leave.

Frank Lyford and Erika Ernst. — ID

Frank Lyford and Erika Ernst. — ID

“If I were back on that call with her right now, I would be more emphatic about her leaving,” he explained. “We all have a connection to the divine within us, we all have that radio transmitter built in — we don’t need anyone to translate that for us. That was the big mistake that we all made, in my mind – it was believing we needed someone else to tell us what our best path should be.”

“People Magazine Investigates: Cults” airs June 17 at 9 p.m. on ID.

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from ‘distant star’

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CNN's Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from 'distant star'

(Reuters) – CNN anchor Anderson Cooper remembered his mother, designer and society grand dame Gloria Vanderbilt, as a woman who endured a string of heartbreaks but still remained deeply in love with love.

Actress Gloria Vanderbilt speaks at a panel for the HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid” during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“I always felt it was my job to protect her. She was the strongest person I ever met but she wasn’t tough,” Cooper said in a seven-minute video youtu.be/cfbRneB9wcA obituary on CNN.

“I always thought of her as visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who had come from a distant star that had burned out long ago.”

Vanderbilt, who died on Monday at age 95, had been famous her entire life, starting with a legal battle in which her aunt took custody from her mother when “Little Gloria” was a child. She would go on to endure four marriages, three divorces, the death of a husband and the suicide of a son.

Cooper’s obituary featured clips of young Gloria and told how she grew up in France, unaware that she was heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune. Portions also were taken from an HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.”

When Cooper questioned why she first married a 32-year-old Hollywood figure, Vanderbilt told him, “Sweetheart, I was only 17.”

His mother “trusted too freely, too completely” but always pressed on, Cooper said, and always believed that the next true love was just around the corner.

“She was always in love – in love with men or with friends or books and art, in love with her children and her grandchildren and then her great-greatchildren,” Cooper said. “Love is what she believed in more than anything.”

Cooper said his mother learned earlier this month that she had advanced and spreading stomach cancer. Her response was to cite a 1950 hit song by Peggy Lee with the lyrics “show me the way to get out of this world because that’s where everything is.”

The CNN report included a video Cooper shot in a hospital after the diagnosis as he and his mother broke into laughing fits over a joke. Cooper said that was when he realized they had the same giggle. He said he still giggles every time he watches that video.

Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Susan Thomas

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Jennifer Aniston had one requirement for Adam Sandler kissing scenes in ‘Murder Mystery’

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Jennifer Aniston had one requirement for Adam Sandler kissing scenes in 'Murder Mystery'

Jennifer Aniston had one rule for her kissing scenes in Netflix’s “Murder Mystery” with co-star Adam Sandler.

“I did have him learn to oil the beard up a little bit,” the actress said in a joint interview this week. “Conditioned.”

Sandler said kissing his longtime friend on camera wasn’t all that awkward, except when his wife Jackie and children were on set and encouraging him a little too much.

‘MURDER MYSTERY’ STARS JENNIFER ANISTON, ADAM SANDLER SAY WHO THEY WOULD PIN A MURDER ON

“The only awkward part is hearing my wife on the side going, ’Harder! Harder! Kiss her harder! Deeper!” he joked. “They (Jackie and the kids) watched the kissing. They love it. They love Aniston, and they want her to have good things and they say, ‘Give her something nice.’”

Adam Sandler, left, and Jennifer Aniston attend the "Murder Mystery" photo call at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Los Angeles.

Adam Sandler, left, and Jennifer Aniston attend the “Murder Mystery” photo call at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Los Angeles.
(AP)

“That was awkward,” Aniston agreed.

“Murder Mystery” follows a longtime married couple who get framed for murder while they’re unlikely guests on a billionaire’s yacht in Europe. The movie premiered on Netflix on Friday.

Fox News caught up with the stars last week and asked them who they would pin a murder on if given the chance.

Sandler, 52, was quick to answer: Rob Schneider.

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“It would be fun to hurt him. It would be fun to see him behind bars. And I would visit him every 10-15 years and say, ‘I’m sorry I did this to you,’” Sandler told us.

Rob Schneider arrives at the LA Premiere Of Netflix's "Murder Mystery" at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Westwood, California.

Rob Schneider arrives at the LA Premiere Of Netflix’s “Murder Mystery” at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Westwood, California.
(Getty)

“Oh yeah, you’d have to have some fun with Rob,” Aniston, 50, said.

When asked what Schneider ever did to deserve the blame in the hypothetical whodunit, Sandler simply said, “Nothing! That’s the beauty of this joke.”

Schneider wasted no time responding to Sandler’s admission, issuing a warning to his former “Saturday Night Live” co-star in a comment to Fox News on Friday.

ROB SCHNEIDER HITS BACK AT ADAM SANDLER, SAYS ‘IT WOULD BE FUN’ TO PIN HIM FOR MURDER: ‘I KNOW HIS SECRETS’

“I know all of Adam’s secrets for 30 years and that’s why he’d like nothing more than [to] lock me away for a crime he’d like to commit: taking away Kevin James’ Happy Meal!” Schneider teased.

Fox News’ Julius Young and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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