'Game of Thrones' Finale: Isaac Hempstead Wright Breaks Down Bran's Stark Realization
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) on 'Game of Thrones' Helen Sloan/HBO
"It feels like we're getting very close to the final conclusion," the actor tells THR about the events of the season six finale.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers through the season six finale of HBO's
"I'm the Three-Eyed Raven now. I have to be ready for this."
Weeks after abusing his new powers and leading his friends to their brutal deaths at the hands of hungry zombies, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) finally knows a thing or two about responsibility. As the most powerful green-seer still standing (if only in his visions), Bran is one of the last great resources when it comes to viewing ancient Westeros history … an ability he put to good use during the season six finale of
In the episode, "The Winds of Winter," Bran returned to the Tower of Joy vision from earlier in the season, this time following his young father, Eddard Stark (Robert Aramayo), all the way inside the tower. There, he witnessed a startling scene: Ned's sister Lyanna, soaked in blood and at death's door, having just given birth. It's not just any baby, either: Lyanna's son is Jon Snow (Kit Harington), raised as Bran's half-brother, even if he was secretly his cousin all this time.
The latest revelation about Jon Snow is just the tip of an important iceberg moving forward, and only the latest milestone in House Stark's turbulent history. For the first time in ages, all of the surviving Stark siblings are either in Westeros or close to it, with Jon and Sansa (Sophie Turner) back in control of Winterfell, Arya (Maisie Williams) running rampant in the Riverlands, and Bran so close to the Wall he can almost touch it.
Here's what Wright told The Hollywood Reporter about Bran's recent revelations, the big wins for House Stark, his thoughts moving into season seven, and more.
At the beginning of the season, Bran is training at the knee of the Three-Eyed Raven. Now he is the Three-Eyed Raven. What does that mean, exactly?
I think Bran, least of all, knows what that means. (Laughs.) Bran totally screwed up in episode five. He completely messed up. So it means he has this huge responsibility. It's almost like he was in third grade, and he's suddenly been sent off to college. He has no idea what he's doing. He's been left totally out on his own. All I think Bran knows is that he's going to have to serve an important purpose with this power. He has such an amazing and useful power that if he just sits on it and doesn't do anything with it, it would be awful. He needs to get on with it and start making an impact. That's what he's trying to do, without messing up like he did before.
And where is he with all of that, getting Hodor and the others killed?
I think Bran is very zen about it. He's almost one of those untouchable British monks where nothing upsets them. He's at this stage now where … maybe there's almost a sense he knew this had to happen. He knew he had to be out there fending for himself, and there would be hardships. It's difficult to tell exactly how much the Three-Eyed Raven knows, and how much was predestined. Who's to say the Three-Eyed Raven didn't know from the very beginning that Bran would do this by himself — that he would end up killing all of his friends? I think there's no doubt that Bran is perturbed by what's happened, but I also think so much has happened that there's almost not even an opportunity for Bran to reflect on it yet. It's totally messed up. The moment he does that, he's dancing with his defeated side, and that's really not an option right now. He has to keep moving forward and has to be quite self-centered in a way. He can't worry about what anyone else is doing. As long as he's OK and he can still use this power for what it needs to be used for, it's not a problem.
That attitude you're describing is reflected in his exchange with Meera, right before he plugs into the Weirwood tree. She asks if he's ready to do this, and he says: "I'm the Three-Eyed Raven now. I have to do this."
Exactly. "I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm here."
Bran goes back in time, and he once again visits the Tower of Joy, one of the most historic locations in
Thrones lore, and now we see why: it's Jon Snow's birthplace. Was there a feeling of Game of Thrones history in the making while shooting this scene?
Oh, it was really cool. Here's this character who we saw at the very beginning of the show as someone we maybe thought would never go anywhere — just the bastard son. Now we're learning that his parents might be the most important people in the history of Westeros. It was fantastic. I would have been happy to just sit and watch it onscreen, but to actually stand there and watch the action firsthand, and almost be involved in it in a way. It's the audience, through Bran, getting to understand the significance of this moment.
Does Bran understand what he's seeing here? When he sees the child, does he know that it's Jon?
That's a good question. I think he can probably work it out. You can see that crushed look on Ned's face. We don't hear a lot about what Lyanna says. Something along the lines of, "If Robert finds out, he'll kill him." Something to that effect. When Bran sees his father's reaction and understands that this is a surrogate child his father has brought up, he thinks to himself, "Well, wait, what surrogate children has my father brought up? Oh! Jon Snow! So Jon Snow isn't my half-brother." But we still are pretty clueless as to the father, I think.
It's heavily theorized, but not yet fully spelled out.
Right. And at this stage, it could even be Ned. There could be a Cersei and Jaime thing going on there.
In the first half of the Tower of Joy sequence, he watches his father battle Arthur Dayne, and it does not go the way Bran expected. Ned's myth is busted there a bit. But is his myth rebuilt in this moment where Bran witnesses Ned making this heroic choice, to sacrifice some of his noble reputation to protect this child?
In a sense, I think it justified what Ned did down there on the battlefield. This is a devastating piece of information he's just been given. He's about to do this very noble thing in bringing up this child, who has nothing to do with him, and is not in a sense his problem. It's a nice contrast to see that dishonorable side of Ned earlier, outside at the battlefield, and now seeing the most shining example of an honorable gentleman in the Tower. It's very cleverly done.
Why did the Raven want Bran to see this? He was designing these visions for Bran. Why did he want Bran to see Jon's birth?
Well, if the fan theories prove to be correct, then it's pretty self-evident what's important about this. It's telling us that maybe Jon Snow is actually not who we think and could actually be a very valuable asset and ally in these times. For Bran right now, the fact that he's seen it and has now learned that it's not his father's son, I think that makes Bran go, "Well, then the father is clearly an important figure that has something to do with the history and future of Westeros."
Have you envisioned the hopefully inevitable day that Bran shares this secret with Jon?
To me, I think what will happen now is that it appears Bran will head south to Winterfell. That's the thread that I would follow, at least. And then, hooray! He runs into Jon and Sansa. But I don't know how Bran's going to break it to Jon. He hasn't seen him in years. "Hey, yeah, by the way, I'm a tree wizard now, and Dad's not your father." (
Laughs.) I think Jon will go, "You've been spending way too much time in the cave, mate."
What's your take on Jon Snow as the new King in the North, and to have the Starks back at Winterfell?
It's a nice feeling to have it back once more. But we're going through these kings in the North pretty rapidly now, aren't we? Imagine if Jon dies again. Can you imagine bringing him back just to kill him again?
If Bran makes it back to Winterfell, he's the true-born son of Ned and Catelyn. Would he want the title of King in the North?
I don't think he would even be interested. I think he knows it's not for him. He's not a leader, as such. He's like an uber maester, as it were. He has all of this all-knowing power, knowing everything about everything. I think he would be a fantastic hand or assistant to Jon, but I think the second he got there, he would say, "Look, whoever's the leader? It doesn't matter, as long as we can coordinate ourselves to sort ourselves out before this massive ice king comes to kill us and the dragons start messing us up."
In the process of reclaiming Winterfell, the Starks lost a sibling: Rickon. How devastated will Bran be when he learns about his brother's death?
It's a gutting thing for Bran, whenever he finds out. He made the executive decision to send Rickon off on his own with Osha. He trusted both of them to keep safe and protect themselves. I think Bran will certainly feel a slight amount of responsibility with what's happened. Who's to say Rickon and Osha would have died north of the Wall? We were pretty safe in the cave … well, maybe not after all the explosions. But I think Bran will feel a bit remorseful that he didn't stay with him longer and take care of him.
Between Bran and viewers learning about Jon's mother, and Daenerys Targaryen headed to Westeros, it feels like we're at the tip of the endgame. Does it feel that way for you?
It's all coming together, isn't it? It's all reaching this crescendo of all these different forces coming together to a focal point and getting ready to implode. It feels like we're getting very close to the final conclusion. God knows how we're going to make a conclusion out of this massive thriving mess of murders and death and ice zombies and all sorts, but it's going to be pretty spectacular.
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