Man at His Best

Interview With Game Of Thrones' Bran Stark

Isaac Hempstead Wright talks Bran, set dynamics, and the best way to die.

BY Franchesca Liauw | May 25, 2016 | Film & TV

Helen Sloan / HBO

It’s a world of beheadings, war, estranged families, incest, and of course, dragons. A world where Wright’s alter ego as Bran Stark has resided since the tender age of 10. It might seem dangerous growing up in a popular monster that is Game of Thrones, but Wright is dulcet-toned and quick-witted proof that fame doesn’t always equal ego. In fact, Wright maintains he’s just as normal as any other 16 going on 17-year-old teenager, and he’s not wrong. With a love for music, from rock bands like Babyshambles to classical composers like Liszt, and a penchant for BoJack Horseman, Wright is as familiar as your best friend.

(Note: This interview took place before "The Door" aired.)

Yet he is part of the mythos that is Game of Thrones. He is Bran Stark. He’s been thrown out of a window, he can warg, he’s left everything he’s ever known in search of his destiny, and most importantly he is still alive. So when you come in for a round table interview not knowing what to expect and you see Wright enthusiastically greeting the media collected before him, you can’t help but sit and take notice.

What has it been like acting on Game of Thrones since such a young age?
Personally I think it has debunked a lot of the violence that you see on TV shows. Having been onset playing with decapitated heads and seeing all the blood lying around I know it is completely made up. Whenever I see something violent in another film or TV show I know the reality. There’s someone behind there pumping out the blood from the dead body. So I actually think it’s been healthy to see the side of it that proves it is just made up.

Has there been any moment in the series where you as Isaac would’ve made a decision that differed from Bran’s?
I think I actually relate a lot more to Bran’s decisions than dislike them. There’s this moment in season two where Bran has sent all his troops to deal with a fight that has taken place somewhere nearby and Theon takes over Winterfell, and I think to myself, I actually would’ve done the same thing. After all, Bran and I are growing up together. We are learning what to do and what not to do at the same time. We are learning about honour and responsibility. That’s something that Bran has taught me. A severe sense of responsibility and the notion that your actions possess greater implications.

What do you think Bran’s larger role in the coming season will be now that he has discovered his powers
Personally I think that Bran could be quite crucial in assisting someone in their quest for Westeros. I don’t think that Bran will ever be the one who charges and takes the throne for himself but I think his powers have extraordinary enabling capabilities. He could be a magical kind of body guard. I have no idea what he will do but I suspect he is someone who possesses the capability to really cause an earthquake in Westeros.

Is there a certain way you’ve approached playing Bran in this season in particular?
What’s interesting about Bran is that he might know what’s going to happen because of his powers. So particularly this season it feels a little bit like he’s almost read the script. He knows what’s going on all around the world. So this year I kind of approached it like Bran knew everything. As if he had watched the show the entire time.

What was it like waiting to know if you were going to return to the show?
Well, first of all, you always get a phone call. So, it’s season five, I wasn’t going to be in it, and I get a call from my agent in the morning saying, David and Dan want to speak to you today. I was like, oh… So I went to school for the whole day and I was thinking, oh no, I’m dying, I’m going to die. Then they call me at the end of the day and I was just waiting for the bad news. Then they say, you are just going to miss out a season, and I go, oh! That’s fine! I’m alive!

Is there a wager in the beginning of a new season on who’s going to die?
I think we should start a sweepstakes! The first thing anyone does when they get their script is, forget the story, am I alive? They always say it’s kind of like the mafia, you always get a nice bottle of champagne or a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of flowers before you get the script. David and Dan will send you a really nice present, they’ll take you out to dinner and then you’ll get the script and be like, oh no!

What’s your take on Jon Snow's death last season?
It was pretty shocking. I mean they kill everyone don’t they? Nobody really wanted him to die but that’s what makes Game of Thrones different. They aren’t afraid to murder the characters that everyone loves or characters that are pretty much the only reason people tune in for. So, don’t get too attached to anyone.

If you had to be killed off how would you like to see Bran go?
I’d love a really gruesome death because then I’d get all the really cool prosthetics. I’d get a decapitated head to take home. Although it would be quite hard to top a lot of the deaths. I don’t know how they keep coming up with them. They get more and more inventive by the season so I don’t really think I could top it without just going over the top disgusting. I’d leave that to David and Dan, but I would say, go on, give us something fun.

On a lighter note, are there any practical jokers on set?
The biggest practical jokers are actually our writers, David and Dan. They’ll often send people scripts which have been rewritten slightly specifically for them. So Alfie Allan who plays Theon Greyjoy gets sent a script, this is around the time of season two when he takes over Winterfell, where I jump out and sort of stab him in the back over and over again. Then I get this text from Alfie saying, oh my god I just read the new script, you stab me to death, that’s amazing! I was like, I’m not sure what script you’ve been reading… I think they did one with Kit, who played Jon Snow, where they burn his beautiful face and he has to wear a horrible mask for the rest of the season. Touch wood, as of yet they haven’t sent me a dodgy script.

As a child actor has it been easy to lead a normal life amongst the backdrop of fame and everything being a celebrity brings to your life?
I’ve always kept a relatively normal existence. I still go to school, a normal school. I live in a very rural part of the countryside in England. The people there are quite elderly. They are not typical Game of Thrones watchers. As its gone on it’s been noticeable but I’ve never felt uncomfortable with it. It’s always just nice. It’s really cool when someone comes up and meets you and loves the show that you are in and you can sort of take a picture with them or whatever and that’s a really nice feeling. What’s always weird is when you are walking to a restaurant and people start to try and place you. You get all these strange stares and it’s like, why are you looking at me? It’s pretty normal, pretty cool.