HBO: How is Bran poised as a character at the end of Sunday's episode, "The Door"?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: Bran’s definitely had to grow quite a thick skin. He started off as this perfectly happy-go-lucky kid in a castle, who hoped to be a knight one day, to having that ripped away from him pretty brutally when he’s chucked out of a window. He’s had to understand that this is not a nice world he’s living in. But equally, I think Bran’s got a Zen aura about him. He realizes that he can’t be a normal kid anymore – he can’t even be a normal person in Westeros – because he’s got this higher purpose. He and he alone is going to be the one who commands the mystical powers of Westeros.
HBO: Were Bran’s visions revelations or had you discussed where your storyline was headed with the writers?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: It was totally new to me. And it was just a joy to read the scripts, because I’d read one vision and be like, “Oh, cool, alright, so there’s—” and “Oh, Hodor can talk—” “Whoa, I did this to Hodor!” “Oh my god this is how the White Walkers were made,” and boom, boom, boom, boom. The story of Game of Thrones is so rich that the history of it inevitably is captivating.
HBO: Which storyline from Bran’s visions were you most excited to learn about?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: I loved learning about the origins of the White Walkers. What’s really cool about Bran’s visions is it’s not just us watching some flashback – Bran needs to see it to understand exactly what he’s got to do. We’re getting to watch a character who has some relation to what he’s seeing react as well.
HBO: How would you describe Bran’s relationship with the Three Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow)?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: It’s a difficult relationship. From the very second Bran fell out of that tower, the Raven manifests himself in Bran’s dream state. So this has been a long time coming. Bran’s fascinated by the Raven more than anything else: We have no idea who he was, what he was, what his origin was. But equally, it was never Bran’s intention to become one of these all-seeing, all-knowing characters. And so I think Bran was certainly in awe of him, but not all the best pleased that he now has to become a Raven himself.
HBO: Yet the visions seemed to have an addictive quality for Bran.
Isaac Hempstead Wright: There’s really the temptation for Bran to go completely AWOL and live in the vision world. But as we see, when he goes into a vision without the Raven’s protection, he realizes that this is not a world he has any kind of control over. And if that doesn’t teach Bran to be more wary and careful with this power, then I think he’s in for a whole other world of pain in the time to come.
HBO: What was it like filming the Night King scenes? Particularly the scene where Bran is touched by the Night King – was it as terrifying filming it as it looks?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: Oh, it was absolutely terrifying on set. The prosthetics guys are so good at their jobs that you really think this is some kind of strange mythical beast with icicles in his head standing next to you. And he has these terrifying contact lenses, with shaped pupils and they’re all sorts of unholy colors. We were doing that scene where he grabs my arm, and we had a large number of people playing the Army of the Dead, so to just turn around and suddenly see all of them dressed head to toe in the most revolting rotting flesh costumes was one of the best scenes I’ve filmed.
HBO: How does the revelation of how Hodor became “Hodor” impact Bran?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: It’s a devastating revelation for Bran. Hodor has been his closest friend, his greatest ally, and it’s really sad. Hodor needn’t have been like this. And yet, here he is; this gentle giant has taken care of Bran this whole time and has no idea that it was really Bran who ruined him.
HBO: What was it like having to say goodbye to Hodor and actor Kristian Nairn?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: I don’t even want to have to think about it! Losing Kristian is AWFUL. Ever since I first met him and accidentally smashed his iPhone – that was the first day I met him – we’ve been the best of friends. We were both new to this whole acting industry and we learned all about it together. We were always having a laugh on set and meeting up when we weren’t filming. And to know that there aren’t going to be any more scenes with Kristian is a horrifying prospect. But I’ll make sure he sees a lot of me. He’s not getting away that easy.
HBO: The other big loss for Bran is his Direwolf, Summer. Did you think about how his death would impact Bran?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: Summer was a relic from the time of Bran’s father, and he’s a reminder of his father and the Stark way. But also, Summer was Bran’s first connection to this strange, mystical world; there’s a very deep connection there. For Bran to then lose him – especially having come this far and having successfully escaped so many close calls – it’s another crushing blow. For Bran, it’s like losing a piece of himself.
HBO: Now that Jon and Sansa have found each other, do you have hopes for more Stark reunions to come?
Isaac Hempstead Wright: Well, now that Bran’s out in the open, if there is any chance of him surviving, then the next logical step would be to head somewhere he last saw any of his family. I hold out hope for Bran to make it south to reunite with Jon and Sansa, but nobody knows in Game of Thrones – there’ll probably be something terrible.