After a one-year absence from Game of Thrones, Bran Stark is back – and apparently, Hodor won’t be carrying him around anymore. Not because Bran has miraculously overcome his paralysis, but because the actor who plays him is practically a giant himself, having reemerged from the real world into Westeros with an obvious growth spurt.
“It would look ridiculous now, because my legs are quite long, and they’d be dragging around,” Isaac Hempstead Wright laughed, in our roundtable interview at the Grand Hyatt yesterday morning. “[This season] everyone is sitting down in a cave, kind of chilling out, so there’s no need for that.”
But that’s about as much as the British actor would say about the sixth season, which is so protected that HBO did not even release any media screeners. While Isaac remained tight-lipped on any deaths or reunions to come, he was as nervous as we are about season six, though perhaps not for the same reason:
“Coming back was like, ‘Will everything have changed, and will people be like ‘this’ (gesticulates slightly) and will I not be allowed to talk to people anymore? Obviously it wasn’t, but the first day coming back I was slightly disoriented because I hadn’t been back on a film set in a year.”
Ahem – fears about not being able to talk to “certain people”, which ended up being unfounded? Could that mean a supposedly dead fan favourite showed up on set to film season 6 after all?
We certainly hope so, but only time will tell, once the show returns on April 25th (Singapore time). In the meantime, here are the other most surprising revelations we gleaned from Isaac about his experience as a lead cast member in Game of Thrones – glean them for clues about season 6 as you will!
WARNING: Spoilers for the first five seasons abound.
Game of Thrones returns Monday, April 25, at 9 AM on HBO.
Video: Kimberly Tay
Left: Isaac, now; Right: Bran hitches a ride on Hodor (Kristian Nairn) in an earlier season. Photo: HBO
Game of Thrones earned him a sex talk from his mum
Even non-viewers know that Game of Thrones has garnered controversy for its explicit nudity. And Isaac, who at age 17, technically shouldn’t even be watching the show, said that being on the show was an interesting way to be exposed to sex and violence (especially since he was only 11 when the show first started).
“My mum, being my mum, obviously had to provide a really horribly kind of embarrassing lecture about sex every time a sex scene came on…so that kind of opened up the sex education conversation in a surreal way,” he laughed.
“But about the violence, she was quite chill, because she could see that I could see that it was just make-believe.”
In fact, he’s so used to seeing bloodied prosthesis on set by now that he can’t help thinking, “Oh, that guy’s got a blood patch under there” when watching characters getting shot on TV.
Off set, he’s just a regular student
Isaac described his one-year break from the show as “bizarre” and “a bit sad”, as the set had begun to feel like a “summer camp, almost, that I go to every year where I do all these acting activities and hang out with all these friends.”
At the same time, his absence came at a convenient time, as he was able to take that year to stay in school and study for his exams – somewhat to the detriment to his acting. “Because I’d been working on my exams, it was like, oh god, I forgot how to do this.”
Where Bran is in Season 6
"He’s had a hard time of it because he’s kind of been forced into isolation, by the circumstances around him, not being able to move, his entire family getting murdered, then his home getting burnt down, then having to go north, then getting rid of his brother, and send him south, and then Jojen dies (laughs) – by the time bran’s at the cave, it’s been such a long journey, and he’s been following this calling, and he’s not entirely sure what exactly it is and why it is, and that’s more the question Bran has to ask, why he is this way than what actually happened."
Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) in Season 6. Photo: HBO
With Bran’s return comes more magic
“He’s had Season Five off, and the idea of that is he’s been honing his magical powers. He’s always been kind of a novice, he’s never been good at controlling the powers in any way. He’s been learning to actually start to use them himself, and what the Three-Eyed Raven’s been trying to do is to bestow a sense of responsibility and make sure Bran understands that these are serious powers and not just wizard-y 'swish swish' nonsense – (laughs) not to demean wizards! That actually, these [powers] could have a fairly tremendous effect on the climate of Westeros.”
His money is on Sansa Stark to win the Iron Throne
Despite being orphaned, held hostage, forcibly married, and raped, Bran’s older sister, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), has managed to outlive at least three of her family members – an unlikely outcome for a girl who was largely dismissed as a bratty princess in the first season.
“Sansa, after all she’s been through a horrendous time of it, but throughout all of that she’s been privy to the political scheming to that’s gone on in the political world of Westeros and she’s experienced first-hand what that can do to a person and how quickly it can be thrown away. Sansa’s grown very thick-skinned and she’s developed a cunning mind which would suit her well for the throne.”
But he doesn’t see Bran ruling Westeros
“I don’t think Bran’s necessarily a ruler. He could be like a semi-ruler just hanging in his tree-cave, just like ‘Yeah, yeah I’ll get you sorted.’ I think he’d be a good enabler to get someone onto the throne. I reckon that’s where Bran’s powers could come into play, but, er, I don’t know.” (RIIIIIIGHT)
Isaac poses on the Iron Throne during his Singapore fan meet in ION Orchard on 2 April 2016, where he raved about laksa and received a surprise birthday celebration from fans
He’s got a death scene in mind for Jaime Lannister
While Isaac described Bran as more of an all-seeing, all-knowing, “zen” kind of seer who keeps a balance in the world rather than “striking a person out”, he wouldn’t put it past Bran to enact a bit of revenge on the people who hurt his family – or on the jerk who pushed him off a tower in the show’s very first episode.
“See, the obvious choice [to kill] would be Jaime Lannister (Nicolaj-Coster Waldau), for disabling him, but having seen Jaime Lannister going through what he does, I’m almost sympathetic to him,” Isaac said. “Maybe Jaime Lannister, maybe not…but also I think he would make it look like an accident, knock a tree on him.”
And if he could bring anyone back to life…
“Well, Jon Snow. Or Robb Stark, it’d be nice to have one of the Starks back. Yeah, Ned - Eddard - Stark. All the Starks.”
His fantasy death scene for Bran is just plain gross
Game of Thrones is infamous for its gory, soul-crushing deaths, and Isaac couldn’t help getting a little excited at the prospect of his character suffering the same memorable fate.
“I’ve always said I’ve always wanted to have a cool death scene! The producers come up with the most creative ways to murder off the characters, so I don’t know how I could top it. It’d have to be something really gruesome, like rip his intestines out and then strangle Bran with them.” Here, he pantomimed being choked.
“But having thought about it, I would quite like to see Bran survive it out, which now means the Game of Thrones gods are going to kill Bran.”
IT'S COMPLICATED: While Isaac would off Jaime Lannister (right) for disabling Bran, he is IRL BFFs with Dean-Charles Chapman, who plays Tommen Baratheon (left). Photo: HBO
His favourites on and off-screen: The Lannisters
While it seems unlikely that a Stark and a Lannister would ever get along, off-screen, Isaac counts Dean-Charles Chapman, who plays the naïve and likely-to-die King Tommen Baratheon, as one of his “best mates”. (Which is amusingly random, considering that their characters have never interacted.)
And his favourite character on-screen? None other than Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), whom he praises for his “sense of wit, which is often just kind of crushed in the Westeros world.”
His fantasy guest star cameo would be:
“Seth Rogen would be fun! He could be a comedic knight, like the knight who was at Joffrey’s wedding who kept getting (makes stabbing motions).”
His knowledge of Bran’s ultimate fate is as good as ours
“I know as far as the scripts go. It’s nice, because that’s just the [lifespan] of the character, but I think that for Bran it’s slightly different, because he’s got these powers where he can see slightly into the future, so I think Bran might know, or he should know, where his story goes, and what his ultimate fate is. This season, I approached the character as if he’d been watching the TV show the whole time. He’s got eyes everywhere in a different way from Littlefinger, so maybe Bran doesn’t know the future, but he does know what has happened and is happening, something along those lines.”
Wait, so Bran kind of knows his fate, but he doesn't know the future future, and he's aware of what's happening in the far reaches of Westeros? TL;DR Bran is Merlin and we're more than ready for it to be April 25 so we can find out what the heck Isaac's hinting at.