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That’s the phrase Isaac Hempstead Wright used to describe what was ahead in the final season of Game of Thrones when speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in early April, mere weeks before the season premiere, “Winterfell.” Technically, he wasn’t wrong? No matter what occurs in the series finale, the final season of Game of Thrones has been very Game of Thrones, dropping jaws, breaking hearts and frustrating brains all along the way. Of course, it’s also a testament to the deep instinct for secret-keeping ingrained in the Thrones cast, desperately afraid of saying the wrong thing before the twists unravel on television. Surely, the erstwhile Three-Eyed Raven knows much more about the final season than the series’ title, but what he’s allowed to reveal? It’s a shorter list.
Since that early April conversation, the final Game of Thrones season has unleashed all but one of its six episodes on the public. As such, Hempstead Wright, who plays the all-seeing Bran, can at the least weigh in on what you and I already know: the Night King’s loss in “The Long Night,” the Mad Queen’s rampage in “The Bells” and the way in which those twists and more have been received. Ahead, a quick conversation with Hempstead Wright about the Game of Thrones curtain call thus far, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter just days before the series finale.
You have sat with the secrets of the final season for so long now. Now we know a good deal ourselves: the outcome of the Battle of Winterfell in episode three, as well as Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) turning toward the dark side. What has it been like for you to watch our reactions?
It was really fun to watch episode three. It’s kind of exactly how I expected everyone would go for it. It was really fun watching people go crazy. There are so many great cliffhanger moments just within that episode: “Is he going to die? Is he going to die? Where’s he going now?” I have seen that episode three times now, and it’s just continually amazing. It just keeps being brilliant. Especially when I got to watch it with other people who hadn’t seen it yet, and I knew there were moments coming up, I loved watching their faces as I saw their faces in peril.
The reactions… as you said, I’ve lived with this information in my head for a year. It’s kind of almost not that important, seeing it come out, in a sense. I’ve known about it and I’ve had my reactions to it a very long time ago. Now, suddenly watching people have their big emotional responses? I’ve had so long to come to terms with it, as it were. I know there has been a lot of backlash about this recent episode. I don’t really understand it. What people were hoping for is an Avengers-esque thing where all the superpowers are explained and everybody comes together and there’s a big team effort. Game of Thrones isn’t like that. It’s unpredictable by nature. The fact that characters are not doing what people want them to do? It’s a good thing. The fact that people are getting pissed off and having a big emotional response? That’s the reason why Game of Thrones is successful. It doesn’t do what everyone wants them to do. I saw today there’s a petition to redo the ending…
What are your thoughts on that?
It’s just absurd. I can’t even fathom it. It’s just ridiculous. (Laughs.) It’s ridiculous that people think they can just demand a different ending because they don’t like it. I have stupidly taken it quite personally, which obviously I shouldn’t. In my opinion, it’s a great ending. I think it’s that this is a character everyone loves. Dany is a brilliant character who has done so many fabulous things and saved so many people. People have complained there wasn’t enough foreshadowing of that. But time upon time, she’s demonstrated a capacity to be quite brutal. She’s waited years and years to get over to Westeros and take what is hers. She’s been delayed. She’s had to fight an army of literal dead people. She nearly died. She’s lost Jorah (Iain Glen), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and now the person she’s deeply in love with isn’t comfortable with her and he threatens the claim she’s had for years. She’s sick of it. She’s pissed off and she’s lost her mind. I don’t think it’s some plot twist to be shocking for the sake of shocking. I think it’s a genuine character development.
With a sense of how viewers have responded to the final season now, how do you expect people will react to the series finale?
Come Sunday, either people are going to approach it with an open mind or they’re not. If people have made up their minds now that they hate Game of Thrones, then obviously they are not going to enjoy it, no matter how good it is. I personally think it’s a very clever way of tying it all up. This next episode, again, is not going to please everybody. There will be some moments where people go, “No! Why did this happen?” But they’re necessary moments. They all contribute to quite an interesting Game of Thrones-y conclusion.
What do you imagine people’s lasting impressions of the series will be?
If people really, really hate this season? Then so be it. But it’s been seven or eight years of absolutely brilliant television that captivated the world, that’s encouraged debate, that’s launched multiple water-cooler conversations on Monday mornings at work. It’s been a pivotal, important part of history. It’s been a key moment in television history. I think people will remember it as such. I think people will remember it as a fabulous journey to have been a part of, no matter their opinion on the ending.
Ahead, others in the Game of Thrones cast weigh in on what to expect from the series finale in three words or more — much more, in the case of our final few castmember testimonials:
Liam Cunningham (“Davos Seaworth”): “Absolutely goddamn epic.”
Carice van Houten (“Melisandre”): “You’re gonna cry.”
Pilou Asbaek (“Euron Greyjoy”): “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”
Conleth Hill (“Varys”): “Wait and see.”
Hannah Murray (“Gilly”): “Best. Season. Ever.”
John Bradley (“Samwell Tarly”): “What she said.”
Jacob Anderson (“Grey Worm”): “Better than Friends.”
Joe Dempsie (“Gendry Baratheon”): “Can’t top that!”
Maisie Williams (“Arya Stark”) “Fire and ice.”
Sophie Turner (“Sansa Stark”): “Can I agree?”
Emilia Clarke (“Daenerys Targaryen”): “It’s the car crash of every emotion you can possibly imagine. It’s like a nuclear bomb. It’s just going to be fucking huge. Seriously!”
Jerome Flynn (“Bronn of the Blackwater”): “I can’t do it in three words. It’s just deep relief for me, personally. It’s been such a big thing. There’s such a buildup to finishing Game of Thrones, and so much resting on it for those guys. I really think they pulled it off. I was just really pleased for them.”
Kristofer Hivju (“Tormund Giantsbane”): “It has changed the way we tell stories. So much of storytelling is based on a formula and a hero’s journey. Here, we show it isn’t so. Life isn’t like that. Life is cruel. Life is unexpected. Someone can get run over by a car two days before they get married, or before their retirement. The world doesn’t fit ‘the formula.’ I think the way this story has been told has broken all of the rules of storytelling, but it has followed all of the rules of life. It’s horrible and beautiful.”
Read all of THR’s Final Path series, featuring character-by-character predictions:
1. Jon Snow
2. Daenerys Targaryen
3. Tyrion Lannister
4. Cersei Lannister
5. Jaime Lannister
6. Sansa Stark
7. Arya Stark
8. Bran Stark
9. Samwell Tarly
10. Theon Greyjoy
11. The Hound
12. Brienne of Tarth
15. Davos Seaworth
16. Jorah Mormont
18. Tormund Giantsbane
19. Beric Dondarrion
20. The Dragons
21. The Night King
22. Across the World of Ice and Fire
23. Final Predictions
Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for continuing coverage all season long.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier