Isaac Hempstead Wright Interview: Of Bran Stark & Thrones’ Gore

Isaac Hempstead Wright, aka Bran Stark from HBO’s hit TV series “Game of Thrones”, talks about the visual gore and mortality in the show as well as light-hearted moments

By Nicole-Marie Ng

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The soft-spoken star has not let fame change him. (Photo: HBO)

Isaac Hempstead Wright was only 10 years old when he first got the call to play Brandon [better known as Bran] Stark on Game of Thrones.

Back then, Isaac was too young to even read the books, which have strong themes of violence, murder and sex.

Six seasons on, he’ll soon turn 17 but says that being in the spotlight has not changed him. His gentle and charming disposition is a testament to that.

Isaac is very different from the broody teenager he currently plays on screen who’s lost most of his family. We find out more about the English actor’s thoughts on the show and how he’s managed to cope as a child actor.

 

What’s it been like to act in “Game of Thrones” from such a young age?

When I started, I was about 10. When you’re at that age, you take everything in stride. You never really pause to think about the totally absurd nature of the whole thing.

I got to travel all around the world and got to act in this fantastic TV show. I’m very lucky and I’ve enjoyed every second of the crazy journey that this has been.

 

How has fame impacted your life?

I’ve kept a relatively normal existence. I still go to school and I live in a rural part of the countryside in England. The people there are mostly elderly so they’re not the typical “Game of Thrones” watchers.

As it’s gone on, it’s been noticeable but I’ve never felt uncomfortable with it. It’s always been nice when someone meets you and loves the show you’re in.

 

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Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark and Max von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven in a vision sequence where Bran can walk again. (Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO)

 

Do you think you’ve been affected by the violence on the show?

Having been on set and playing with the decapitated heads and blood, I’m less affected watching another violent TV show because I know it’s all completely made up. Now I know that there’s someone behind the scenes pumping out blood from the dead body.

 

What’s the camaraderie like on set? Do you feel that all the Stark kids have to stick together?

We have a real good laugh on set. The Stark kids are now in far-flung parts of the Westeros map so we never actually meet each other. But off set, we are all pretty good friends.

One of my best friends is Dean-Charles Chapman who plays Tommen Baratheon.

 

Is there is a joker on the set?

The biggest practical jokers are the two writers, David and Dan. They’ll often send scripts that have been rewritten slightly.

Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, got a script around Season 2 when he took over Winterfell. [The script] Said that I jumped out and stabbed him in the back.

So I got this text from Alfie saying, “Oh my god! Just read the new script and you stab me to death! That’s amazing!” But I texted him back saying, “I’m not sure what script you’ve been sent mate.”

I think they did one with Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow as well. They burned his beautiful face off [in the revised script] and he would have had to wear a horrible mask for the rest of the season.

 

Which “Games of Thrones” character do you like most?

I love Tyrion. He is funny and smart, which is something I think often gets pushed aside in Westeros. It’s refreshing to have a character there that keeps his wit throughout the particularly dark elements of the show.

 

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Isaac posing with Singapore fans when he visited the “The Game of Thrones Experience: Worlds of Westeros” event at ION Orchard. (Photo: HBO)

 

Who would you want to see sit on the Iron Throne at the end?

Sansa. She is another character that has had to put up with horrendous things. But Sansa, in particular, has had to learn the way of the diplomat and has been exposed to the politics of Westeros in a way that a few of the other characters haven’t.

She’d be prime to balance the politics and wars going on in the region. She can be cunning but make a good queen, nicer than Cersei at least.

 

Is there a wager on set on who’s going to die?

I think we should start a sweepstake! The first thing everyone does when they get their scripts is to flip through and see if they’re alive.

They always say it’s kind of like the mafia. You’ll get a box of champagne, a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers before you get the script. David and Dan will send you a really nice present or take you for dinner before you get the script and find out that you’re dead.

Before Season 5, I got a phone call from my agent in the morning saying that David and Dan wanted to speak to me. So I went to school thinking that I was going to die.

When they called at the end of the day and said that I was just going to miss out on a season, I was like, “Oh! That’s fine!”

 

Of all the terrible things that have happened, which has made you wince the most?

The worst had to be Oberyn’s death. I didn’t have a clue that was coming because I was not in Season 5 and hadn’t read the script.

I was watching and I thought, “Yay! The good guys are winning for once!” But then he got his head bashed in.

 

Will you continue acting after “Game of Thrones”?

Yes, I think so. Like a lot of my peers, we change what we want our jobs to be every five minutes. I’ve wanted to be a neurosurgeon, physicist, banker, all sorts of things.

But the one constant throughout that is acting, and having enjoyed it consistently. It’s too much fun not to do.

 

Look out for Isaac Hempstead Wright returning in “Game of Thrones” on Apr 25.

 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 150, April 15 – April 28, 2016, with the headline ‘Of Bran Stark & Thrones’ gore’.

 

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