Playing Bran in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” was like becoming a brand new character for Isaac Hempstead Wright
Season 7 of Game of Thrones was a lot to unpack and, chances are, we’re going to need to watch it at least a few more times before the final season airs on HBO. Luckily the complete seventh season is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. In honor of the release, Isaac Hempstead Wright — who plays Bran Stark on the hit series — caught up with HelloGiggles by phone and talked us through Bran’s transition into the Three-Eyed Raven, what it’s like to be the most powerful person in Westeros, and how even the all-knowing Bran didn’t know about that big Lyanna/Rhaegar reveal.
And for the first time in the series history, all our (surviving) important players are in Westeros. Guys, I definitely don’t need to tell you this…but winter is here.
HelloGiggles: Season 7 was a pretty big one for Bran, in that after so many seasons of buildup to Bran’s purpose, we are starting to see him emerge as the Three-Eyed Raven. What was it like for you to transition into this all-knowing man in Westeros?
Issac Hempstead Wright: It was interesting because it was a totally new challenge for me. It was almost like playing an entirely new character. That was interesting the way we kind of decided how we were going to sort of shape Bran, and make our mind up about exactly how he would interact with people. That was an interesting challenge accent wise, to try and keep him interesting without him just becoming monotone and boring and just you know saying, “Yeah I know the answer to that,” and giving him a bit of mystery and interest.
It was really fun to get to act [with new] people as well. Instead of just being [with the same group] because we have always had a bit of a big unit up north being away from the action lately. It was nice to come down and sort of interact with some of the other [characters], some of the big storylines in the show, and act with people I’ve never acted with before, and people I haven’t acted with in a very long time.
HG: Watching Bran show no emotion, or largely no emotion, during a pretty emotional season was so frustrating to watch, especially Meera’s tearful goodbye.
IHW: Yeah, to be honest also, at the start of Season 7 Bran was almost overwhelmed with the amount of information that was now whizzing around his brain permanently, so I think almost, he was slightly even less Bran Stark at the start of Season 7 than he was by the end of it. I think by the time he was with Sam, he had started to kind of get to grips with it more with how his power worked and how he is sort of able to control it a bit more. Therefore, [he] become a bit more of a human being or at least have a bit more of a personality rather than just a sort of human vehicle for all knowledge.
I think that is the real key indicator that Bran just doesn’t operate the way he did before, and it’s not because he is trying to be cold or nasty, it’s just that he can’t quite fathom human emotions very much anymore. Its like he is on such a different level of existence to the human race now, that he just can’t compute certain things like saying, “Oh thanks so much for everything you did for me, Meera,” because in Bran’s head everything is just predetermined that that was necessary so that “I can be here, so I can do this, so I can do whatever in the future.” And so I think that was a good sort of quite hard and sad way of saying Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven now, and it works differently.
HG: There are so many moments where you have to stare into space. What is going through your head at that time? Is it ever hard to have no reaction?
IHW: Yeah, it can be really [difficult]. It’s like having to clear your mind, like its almost meditation. When you’re watching like big scenes unfold, you kind of what to [interact with it], but you’re like, nope got your game face and chill. [However, Bran’s] head is in so many different times and places at once. So even though he is watching one thing unfold in front of him, he has got lots of other things happening that he can see at that moment. So by concentrating on that, I think that allows me to kind of keep a bit more dead and not end up sort of cracking a smile mid way through things.
HG: Your scene with Littlefinger — in the beginning of “The Spoils of War” — was wild. It was a very quiet moment during a really big episode.What was it like to read “chaos is a ladder” in the script?
IHW: Oh, that was so much [fun] because that is one of my favorite lines in the show. And the way Aidan [Gillen] plays that originally was brilliant, it was chilling, so to be able to play it back to him…I think you know, Bran can become quite a creepy character there when he goes to do this. Probably one of the few people who can really disturb Petyr Baelish, because there is no way of escaping from what Bran knows.
Where as Petyr Baelish with other people can sort of play with them and be a bit sly, so getting to really freak Littlefinger out was so much fun. But again, you know, you don’t want to sort of play it too much like, “You know I’m going to get you” because Bran isn’t necessarily trying to show that he is evil or that he can really mess around. It is more that he is just, he has kind of been keeping the fire up under Littlefinger and its just making him aware that all patterns almost. When Littlefinger mentioned the chaos it sparked a little connection in Bran’s head, “Ah, chaos is a ladder.”
HG: As a Stark, how did it feel to finally get the retribution for your family?
IHW: I think for Bran he’s not necessarily loyal to his family anymore, he is loyal to mankind. I’m sure there was a bit of him going, “This is nice,” to see a little bit of Bran Stark still in the corner of his head. [He] sits back and thinks “Ah this is good, this is justice.” I think more what Bran as the Three-Eyed Raven was thinking was okay, “This seems necessary in the timeline and he is a dangerous character and it is good that he is not here before the Great War comes.” I think that’s mainly what’s going through Bran’s head. It is not that he’s pleased about getting revenge.
HG: How does it feel to be the most powerful person in Westeros right now?
IHW: Pretty cool! It’s fun because, Bran, throughout [the series] has been sort of an after thought of a character in many ways, he has never been part of the main action, and he has always just been pursuing his own sort of, you know, obscure storyline miles away up in the North. And therefore has never necessarily felt like one of the big players in the game of Thrones. And now it has gone the complete opposite way. He is probably the most valuable asset in the whole of Westeros. Getting to be that valuable property is fun for me, and also fun because it means that the character is getting to do a lot more, maybe a lot more interesting things.
HG: Since you’re the most powerful, all-knowing person, it is safe to say that the internet had a melt down when there was something Bran didn’t know — that Lyanna and Rhaegar were married. Were you surprised that he didn’t know and come on, how did he not know?
IHW: Yeah, I mean you would have thought that considering that was the key, you know that he already knew that Lyanna had been kidnapped, it does seem surprising that Bran wouldn’t just go back and check through and see you know, did Rhaegar actually rape and kidnap Lyanna? So I do agree that it seemed a little bit odd that Bran has forgotten to do that. But at the same time, it is a bit of a lesson to him to really be measured and careful and patient. There was still that part of Bran Stark that is quite impatient and hubristic and doesn’t necessarily think things through. And then perhaps Bran after he discovered the “Right, well that is the Tower of Joy, okay, fine,” and [he] didn’t think more of it and was just more focused on the White Walkers, and so perhaps it wasn’t priority for him. But I agree, I’m not sure. You’ll have to take that up with our producers.
HG: So now that we know Bran has survived through seven seasons, was there ever a moment where you were sure that Bran was a goner? Or did you always know that he would make it to the final season?
IHW: There was that moment in Season 6 after they’d escaped from the cave and Hodor died and it was just Meera and Bran in the woods. As I was reading that I was thinking, “Oh, man, oh this is it, isn’t it. This is it.” But, I have to be honest, I think there was a little part of me going, “They’re not going to kill Bran, Bran isn’t going to die like this, he can’t die like this” — which is a very dangerous way to start thinking in Game of Thrones, because nobody is safe but that’s how I was proved right.
And I did actually have a theory that, I thought of the stuff that happened, because Bran is north of the Wall and there was the fact that Bran’s magic, the magic of that cave was ruined when Bran had the mark of the Night King on him, perhaps that same magic that is woven into the Wall would be destroyed. And so I thought, what would happen is that Bran would sort of sacrifice himself beyond the Wall and sort of get all the White Walkers to be sort of boxing match at the Wall and then sort of you know, blow them up something or something, in a big sort of you know save the day.
But Bran went south of the Wall, and as it relates it doesn’t matter even if [the cave being destroyed] has ruined the magic in the Wall because it wasn’t directed right to get through it.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray.