“I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.”
Who said it: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), or Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen? You could be forgiven for getting the two mixed up, as the sole surviving son of Ned and Catelyn Stark has become more and more omnipotent as Game of Thrones has worn on. Over the course of season seven, Bran’s vision quest saw the young man taking a turn toward something superhuman, so far removed from the boy he once was that he even denies being Bran Stark at one point. These days, he’s fully committed to his role as the Three-Eyed Raven — a role that actually does have roots in the aforementioned comic book character.
For more on his work as Bran this season, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Wright, who gave his takes on some of the finale’s biggest moments: the fall of the Wall, the revelation about Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the death of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). He also tackled some of the most prominent theories currently circling Bran, including the idea that he and the Night King are one and the same, and the separate speculation about Bran’s role in reclaiming Viserion from the Army of the Dead.
What was your entry point into Bran this year? Do you share the character’s view, and are you looking at him now as purely the Three-Eyed Raven, and no longer Bran?
The way we looked at it is we had a meeting, me and our two showrunners, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], and they spoke with me after I read the scripts and noticed how different Bran is now. We had a chat, and we basically more or less based the character on Doctor Manhattan from the Watchmen comics — sort of Doctor Branhattan — to get at this idea of a character who exists all throughout time and can exist in all of these different planes and dimensions all at once. By the same time, they really wanted to still have a slight whisper of personality left. It could get so boring when you have a character who is monotonous and knows everything and “I’m the Three-Eyed Raven” and blah blah blah blah blah. It can get really lame. We kind of wanted there to be a slight mystery to him still, and a slight flair of Bran still in him in there, or if not Bran, then at least a character in there, rather than this super computer. You have to imagine that basically the entire history of time has been downloaded into Bran’s head. That’s a lot of gigabytes to take up in Bran’s brain. It’s only natural that he becomes this massively more stoic and quiet and weird character. But we wanted to keep a little bit of Bran there.
The finale features a scene where Sam and Bran discover that Jon is the heir to the Iron Throne. Bran knows he’s driving toward some predestined purpose. Does he feel that this is his destiny, that his ultimate purpose involves this crucial piece of Westeros history he now needs to bring to the table?
No. No, because to be honest? I honestly think that’s a massive red herring. As interesting as it may be that Jon is in fact the heir to the Iron Throne, none of that really matters in the face of the threat of the White Walkers. Even if mankind can possibly defeat them, now he has a freaking ice dragon. There will be so little left of that country that that information won’t have any relevance. I think Bran’s real destiny and his most important role will be in some way having some influence on the White Walkers or the Night King or something. There’s clearly some unfinished history between the Three-Eyed Raven and the Night King, and I think that’s where Bran’s going to be most useful.
What do you think of the theory about Bran and the Night King being the same person? Do you see any world in which that happens?
I don’t know. I think it’s a little bit far-fetched. But the whole Hodor thing, if I had read that as a theory, I would have said, “Nah, this is crazy.” So, who knows? Although I have to say, people are now comparing my face to the Night King and going, “Yeah! It’s him! It’s over, there’s no question about it!” And I’m like, “I don’t look that much like the Night King, do I?”
We’ll have to put the Night King Facebook filter on you, and then we’ll know for sure.
What about the idea that there’s the promise from the original Three-Eyed Raven about how Bran will never walk, but he will fly? Do you think there’s anything to the theory that Bran will warg into Viserion, and take this new nuclear warhead away from the White Walkers?
That would be good, if he could warg into him. But I don’t know what the logistics of that are now, considering he’s under the control of the White Walkers and the Night King. Why hasn’t Bran ever just warged into the zombies and stopped him? I don’t know if he can do that. Who knows whether he actually can warg into Viserion, if that ever were to occur.
When you read the scene where the Wall comes down, was there any relief knowing Bran wasn’t responsible? That was a popular theory for a while.
Oh my God, yes! Tell me about it. (Laughs.) I was so ready for so much hate. Even when the first episode came out: “I can’t believe you’ve come through the Wall! Why would you do that?” And I was like, “Just wait! Just you wait! This is not my fault!”
You must have been thrilled about that!
Well, I wasn’t thrilled about the Wall coming down, because that means we are all now officially screwed. (Laughs.) But in terms of negating responsibility? Yeah, I was chuffed about that.
It feels like the White Walkers’ next likely target would be Winterfell, potentially as soon as the next episode if they walk fast enough…
Yeah, and time travel seems to have been fudged quite a bit this season. In two minutes, you can be between King’s Landing and Winterfell.
How worried are you for Bran’s immediate fate as we look ahead at season eight? You could see the scenario where the White Walkers are at Winterfell in the first 10 minutes of the season premiere.
Yeah. Considering the way the Night King went to the last Three-Eyed Raven, I don’t hold high hopes for any potential meeting between the Night King and Bran. I don’t think the Night King will be keen to sit down and discuss, even like Cersei. Cersei was one thing, the Night King is a whole different box of rocks. I think you just have to hope the Night King doesn’t get to Bran until Bran has done what he needs. I’m pretty sure the Night King wants to kill him. I mean, the Night King wants to kill everyone, but …
He definitely has it out for Bran.
Yeah, well, I really think there’s some kind of history between the Three-Eyed Raven and the Night King. Even after it became clear that the Children of the Forest were the ones who created the Night King, or at least just the first White Walker. There’s some kind of linkage there, I think. I’m not looking forward to finding out what that might be.
How much did you enjoy being part of the Rhaegar and Lyanna scene?
Oh, it was so cool. I was so excited when I saw that I got to do another vision like that. There weren’t as many visions where I was actually present this season. It was more Bran warging into a flock of ravens and checking out what was happening north of the Wall. To actually get to be part of as cool a scene as that, it was awesome. I’ve always said about those visions, those are things I would have just wanted to see play out on screen, but to actually be there for the filming of it and actually be involved and watch the whole thing go down? I felt really lucky.
What do you remember about being on set for the scene in which Arya kills Littlefinger?
Man, that was so intense. Over and over again, watching him deliver this scene … the seemingly undefeatable Littlefinger, finally becoming unstuck, and just the panic and chaos going through his mind in those moments where he realizes there’s nothing he can do. He’s lived his life by hiding within lies, and now he has the world’s biggest CCTV department sitting in front of him, and he can’t get away with it anymore. That was really intense. Aidan did a really stellar job there. Just all of those looks of confusion and upset and watching that character break down … I thought it was brilliant.
You’re going to start filming the final episodes of Game of Thrones in a few months. What do you imagine the mood on set will be like when you sit down for the final table read?
You know what? I’m absolutely terrified of finding out the ending to this. (Laughs.) I really don’t want to know! I don’t want to have to sit with that knowledge for however long it takes until it comes out. I don’t want to know. I just want to read my scenes and not be able to spoil anything. I’m really not looking forward to that.
And I’m sure you’re not looking forward to the idea of this all coming to an end. It’s been such a formative part of your life.
By the time it’s finished, I’m pretty sure it will have been literally 50 percent of my life. The fact that it’s coming to an end, and they’re such good friends that I have from that show now. It’s going to be so sad not being able to see them every year now. It’s going to be super weird knowing it’s done. You always have that thought in the back of your mind: “Oh, I’ll be back here next year! Bye guys, see you next year!” Not anymore. Now it’s going to be like, “Wow. This is over.”
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