After the chaos of last Saturday at ION Orchard, where Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) was greeted by hundreds of fans, I was looking forward to meeting him in a more controlled (and quiet) setting.
It’s hard not to like young Hempstead Wright. He turns 17 on April 9, and at the media round table Geek Crusade was part of, he was the very epitome of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He spoke of his experiences on Game of Thrones with much affection, and it was clear that he treats the show as his second home.
However, prying out details about the much anticipated Season 6 of GoT proved to be as difficult as squeezing blood from a stone. But we did learn about some details about what’s in store for Bran Stark.
1Bran has an important part to play
The GoT showrunners decided to give Bran some time off due to the numerous storylines that were all competing for screentime, which meant that Hempstead Wright could take one year off the show.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Bran isn’t important in the whole scheme of things. Hempstead Wright said that this gave Bran some training time where he could hone his magical skills, and where the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) could “bestow upon him this sense of responsibility”.
“[These powers] could have a fairly tremendous effect on the entire climate of Westeros. So who knows exactly what Bran will be able to do with them, but I think he certainly he knows that they’re gonna be crucial. They’re required in this world where the balance of the magical powers is firmly stacked against the humans and very much in favour of the White Walkers.”
This all sounds very dark and foreboding, and in another interview with Yahoo! Singapore, he hinted that Bran could even cause an “earthquake” in Westeros.
But when pressed for an opinion about the odds of Bran Stark taking the Iron Throne, Hempstead Wright seemed more tentative: ” I don’t think Bran is necessarily a ruler…he’d be a good enabler to get someone to the throne. That’s where Bran’s powers will come into play.”
2House loyalty runs deep
Bran might’ve been separated from the rest of his family for a long time, but it’s clear that Hempstead Wright is still deeply loyal to his fictional house. When asked who would get his vote to rule Westeros, his answer was, surprisingly, Sansa Stark.
“…she’s been privy to the political scheming that goes on in the political world of Westeros. And she’s experienced firsthand what that can do to a person and how quickly it can be thrown away. I think Sansa’s grown a very thick skin, but she’ll have developed a particularly cunning mind which I think would suit her well for the throne.”
This loyalty persisted even when another reporter asked him what house (other than the Starks) he would like to be part of, to which he replied, “The Tullys seem like a nice enough bunch.” (Bran’s mother, Catelyn, was a Tully before she married Ned Stark.) He confessed to not knowing much about the Tullys, but said that they seemed to have “the same kind of honourable tendencies as the Starks do”.
But when asked who he would like to see resurrected on this show, his answer was an emphatic: “Jon Snow. Or Robb Stark. It’d be nice to have one of the Starks back. Or Ned Stark. All the Starks!”
You’re not alone there, Isaac. Though I’m still not convinced that his answer means that Jon Snow is well and truly dead, or if he was covering up a potential spoiler. There is still hope!
3Growing up on set gave him perspective
Cast when he was a wee ten-year-old, Hempstead Wright has grown up acting on a show full of violence and sex that he technically isn’t allowed to watch. However, he was firm when he insisted that his experiences on set only served to give him a sense of perspective about violence and gore on TV as he could see that it was all made up. The only awkward part came when the show started to air, and his mother had to sit him down and talk about the birds and the bees!
Having to spend a year away from set came with a mixed bag of emotions. Although it meant that Hempstead Wright could spend a year concentrating on his exams, he found it a little difficult as going on set was “like a summer camp”. By the time shooting for Season 6 started, he said, “I was like ‘Ah, I’m home again.'”
Hempstead Wright also mentioned that he’s now best friends with Dean-Charles Chapman, (who plays Tommen Baratheon, gasp!). He added that he also got very close to Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, who play Sansa Stark and Arya Stark respectively, because it was their first time in a proper acting job.
4Filming has its ups and downs
Since Bran’s journey has him travelling towards the Wall, it meant that shooting often wasn’t a pleasant experience. If anything, Hempstead Wright’s worst days on set in Belfast were all weather-related. He described how walking through the sludge and snow on set created a disgusting mushy bog that he had to navigate with numb feet.
But one of the perks of being on a show like GoT, with an embarrassment of riches in terms of acting talent, was that Hempstead Wright was able to learn from some of the best in the business.
“One of the highlights was Donald Sumpter (Maester Luwin), [who] was a lovely gentleman who taught me a lot about not only acting, but the acting profession as well…He taught me about layering your voice, which I can definitely hear with him, and this season I can hear as well with Max von Sydow.”
He added that it was a real honour to work with von Sydow, who would do everything that the crew told him to even though he’s the grand old age of 86. Hempstead Wright also mentioned how von Sydow was able to give even the smallest of lines “a kind of gravity that makes you step back and go ‘wow!'”.
So while there wasn’t much that Hempstead Wright could reveal about Season 6, what is clear is that Bran learns how to control his powers and potentially become one of the more powerful people in Westeros with his magical abilities. But whether or not he ends up helping Sansa claim the throne remains to be seen.
In the meantime, I leave you with a picture of this extremely cool GoT arcade game provided by HBO Asia, that had GoT Funko figures as prizes.
— Geek Crusade (@geekcrusade) April 5, 2016
Head Geek Nicholas Yong scored a Funko of Ghost (Jon Snow’s dog) after a few tries, but I was unable to get my hands on Brienne of Tarth even after ten tries.
Ah well, nothing’s fair in the world of Westeros.