Heir to Winterfell, Three-Eyed Raven, King of the Six Kingdoms. The actor behind Bran Stark shares his thoughts on his character’s remarkable journey.
HBO: So, the biggest question on our minds: What was your reaction when you found out Bran would become king?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: I had to physically get up and walk around my flat. I said, “What?! You’re joking.” It was the very last thing I expected to happen. I was convinced they had sent a script to everyone in which they become king or queen, so I still didn’t believe it until the read-through.
But I think he is a great character to take on that role. You never thought of him in that way, but what more could you ask for in a king than to have no personal attachments, no agenda, but have a calm understanding of the entire universe? He’s the ideal person to be in charge.
[Creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] told me there were two things [author] George R.R. Martin had planned for Bran, and that was the Hodor revelation, and that he would be king. So that’s pretty special to be directly involved in something that is part of George’s vision. It was a really nice way to wrap it up.
HBO: Do you think Tyrion’s speech about selecting Bran as king shows an overall theme for the series – that our strength is in our stories?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: It’s definitely a nice parallel to Game of Thrones. Episodes and seasons come and go and the show has ended, but stories never die. Great experiences and memories of watching something and loving it and being involved in characters and storylines are things no one can take away from you.
The dragonpit speech scene itself was five days of filming. It’s a long scene, and it was about 10 minutes a take, so we watched Peter [Dinklage, who plays Tyrion] do that speech over and over again — and it didn’t once become boring. It was such an incredible performance from him; utterly captivating. There were a couple of times I almost forgot my line because I was so completely involved in his storytelling. And that was my final scene to shoot, so that was a really special way to end it with so many people. It was very emotional.
HBO: Your character has gone through such an incredible transition over the course of the eight seasons – what has that been like as an actor?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: It’s been an interesting one, he’s had such a massive character evolution and he’s pretty much unrecognizable by the end. For the first six seasons it was pretty straight forward, everything was pretty gradual, he was more or less the same person just getting a little bit wiser, and learning how harsh the world all is. [When he became the Three-Eyed Raven] it was definitely tricky, striking that balance — we didn’t want it to just become boring. By Season 8 I had really relaxed into it, and judging by the reactions, people have enjoyed it, and found him funny and strange, not just irritating. Which is what we hoped.
The thing about Bran, he’s not human, he’s not normal, so there’s nothing to base him on. It was just getting that balance of mystery and strangeness but with some little spark in him that keeps you compelled to see him on screen.
I think the character arc itself is just the most incredible thing. To have this disabled 10 year old in this incredibly harsh world...you think he has no chance of survival, he’s not going to make it anywhere. And yet against all odds, despite being a traditionally “weak” character he travels north of the Wall to one of the most dangerous points on the map, and comes back this incredibly powerful, wise, calm character.
He’s not going to come in on horseback and save the day, but he sits and thinks and is calm and collected. I think that’s a really great message, that he is rewarded for being still and calm and not reactionary and doesn’t just shout and cause trouble. It’s kind of a real victory for the quiet thoughtful people of Westeros.
HBO: What do you hope fans take away from this final episode?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: I don’t think it’s the ending people need to take away from, it’s the overall message of what these characters have done and how they’ve changed. You can read into it in all sorts of ways but at the end of the day, what Game of Thrones is so brilliant at is telling really human stories, and you can take away anything you want from it. There are so many types of people and story-arcs in it, that all have different conclusions and morals and messages. More than anything it’s a great thing to watch, and a useful tool in sitting there and reflect on how we behave.
Discover more from the final season on HBO.com.
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