The UK’s tallest man and Games of Thrones star Neil Fingleton died of a heart attack, his family has said.
Fingleton was just 36 when he died suddenly at his home in Gilesgate, County Durham, last month.
The 7ft 7in star of Game of Thrones and Dr Who will be laid to rest later this week.
His mum Christine Fingleton confirmed he died of a heart attack today and said the family were struggling to cope with their loss as they prepare to say their final goodbye.
His funeral will be held at Durham Cathedral where friends and family will gather at 2pm on Friday, March 17, followed by interment at Belmont Cemetery.
Neil, who had been the UK’s tallest man, found fame as Mag the Mighty in the HBO fantasy series after turning his hand to acting in recent years.
He has previously built a successful career playing basketball in the United States.
His family told of their heartache following his death which came just after he had been filming for Game of Thrones in Belfast.
Proud mum-of-three Christine, told Chronicle Live from the family home: “He’d never felt better. It’s a dreadful shock, we are just devastated.
“We have always been a close family. He was very kind and very generous; all of us would say that,”
While Neil’s stature helped him land a role in Game of Thrones, Christine revealed it also came with its difficulties.
She said: “It would be a struggle at times. It definitely would have been difficult for him but he made the best of things and got on with it.”
Christine said Neil had been in good health and celebrated his 36th birthday shortly before Christmas.
“He’d never felt better I don’t suppose,” she said.
“He looked forward to going back to filming and he really enjoyed working on Game of Thrones, though I must admit I never watched it myself.”
Neil became a well-known face on the acting circuit and TV screens across the country, and also took on roles in X-Men: First Class and Jupiter Ascending.
He spent 10 years playing Stateside and spent two years at the University of North Carolina before transferring to Holy Cross in Massachusetts.
Christine said: “His coach at Teesside, Tony Hanson, really encouraged him and supported him in his career.”
But after a successful career playing professionally in Spain, China, Italy, Greece and England, he turned his attention to acting.
In 2014, Neil played Mag the Mighty in Game of Thrones and the villain The Fisher King in BBC ’s Doctor Who.
His mum remembers his first gig was playing ‘The Thinker’ in a Muller Light advert.
“That was really quite good,” Christine said. “It went from there and a lot of people saw him on that.”
Neil leaves behind Christine, brother Michael, 38, and 40-year-old sister Keely. His father, Michael, died six years ago.
“We have always been a close family. He was very kind and very generous; all of us would say that,” said Christine.
“He was actually quite private, he didn’t like a lot of fuss.
“He had quite a dry sense of humour, I remember a few years ago he was ill after an operation on his toe.
“I would go round and see him every day so he bought a doormat that said ‘oh no, not you again’, which he thought was funny.”
As news of Neil’s death spread last month, Middlesbrough MP Tom Blenkinsop tweeted: “Really sad news about Neil Fingleton. Played, amongst many things, Mag the Mighty in #GoT. Also a Huge Boro fan!! Only 36!! So, so sad.”
A statement posted on the Tall Persons Club group Facebook page said: “Sadly it has come to our attention that Neil Fingleton Britain’s Tallest man passed away on Saturday.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”