Isaac Hempstead Wright discusses Bran’s purpose and relationship with the Night King


Of all the many characters on Game of Thrones, none have had as fantastical a journey as Brandon Stark. He’s sort of a Pinocchio-in-reverse, transformed from a ‘real boy’ into the far-beyond-human, enigmatic Three-eyed Raven.

And now that his ultimate nemesis, the Night King, is destroyed, what is there for him to do? Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright sat down to chat with the The New York Times and discussed Bran’s true nature, as well as his place in the post-Night King world.

The first thing Hempstead Wright addresses is Bran’s inability to get involved in the fighting during the Battle of Winterfell. “As far as I understand it, he’s just in the ravens,” Hempstead Wright explained. ” He’s just keeping tabs on the battle … Bran recognizes that all he can do is sit there and let whatever happens, happen … There’s not a lot Bran can contribute, on the battle side.”

"My involvement (in the production shoot) was small, compared to most people. I only did two weeks of night shoots, and they were there for 55 nights. The hard part for me is just sitting there, and staying put, keeping the furs in place for continuity. I can’t get up."

And, once and for all, Hempstead Wright buries a popular fan theory: “Yeah. The Night King is dead,” he states. “I can’t see how Bran is the Night King, or was the Night King.”

Fans have been intrigued by the long gaze between Bran and the Night King in their final confrontation. Hempstead Wright has a fascinating take on it:

"The reasoning behind that wasn’t actually in the script, but [director Miguel Sapochnik] and I came up with this idea that the look Bran gives the Night King is one of pity. Bran saw the creation of the Night King, or the first White Walker, or whatever. He realizes that he was once just a normal guy who was forcibly strapped to a tree, and had a piece of dragonglass plunged in his heart. He didn’t ask to become this raving, crazy ice killer. So it’s a bit like a Frankenstein’s monster scenario. He was forced into this situation, and he was trapped into this Night King’s body, and programmed to kill everyone. So we tried to get a moment where Bran is feeling sorry for him. Bran is looking at this ancient being who didn’t want to become this murderer, but is. And the reason the Night King takes so long is that he’s been programmed to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven from the moment he was created, so he’s taking a moment to savor it."

And what about Bran’s ability to see things coming? “As I understand it, Bran can’t exactly see the future,” Wright said. “I think he can have inklings. When Bran gives Arya the catspaw dagger, he knows there’s something important to do with it, but he doesn’t know that say, six months on, she’s going to use it to stab the Night King … I don’t think he knows anything other than it’s important that Arya get that blade. He doesn’t necessarily know why.”

That roughly fits with what we know of the Three-Eyed Raven’s powers, which admittedly isn’t much, probably by design. He had a flash of the Sept of Baelor exploding before it happened, for instance, but nothing substantial.

“[Bran] is very cautious with what he reveals to people,” Hempstead Wright added, “because he’s aware that time has to unfold naturally.” As for his character having become such a stoic, emotionless and perhaps callous seer, Wright has ideas about that, too:

"Bran doesn’t care. It’s totally irrelevant to Bran that Samwell Tarly’s family has died, unfortunately. The Three-Eyed Raven doesn’t see things in terms of personal sadness. He just sees things in terms of the way things must unfold, or the way time goes … But that’s been the role of the Three-Eyed Raven for millennia. To sit there, watching, carefully. He doesn’t sit there judging. He doesn’t sit there advising. He just sits there keeping an eye on history and time."

Delving deeper into the sense of Bran’s isolation from the world of human emotion, Hempstead Wright uses Theon’s last moments as an example. “There’s nothing personal when Bran tells Theon, ‘You’re a good man.’ What he’s basically doing there is that he knows that Arya is running and charging on her way to save the day, and Bran recognizes that he needs to buy some more time.”

So according to Hempstead Wright, what Bran says to Theon isn’t in any way heartfelt, but a survival move. “And that’s a real moment there where Theon could give up again” he said, “as we’ve seen him do several times before. He looks at the Night King like, is he just going to run away or give up? And Bran recognizes that Theon needs that final push to give it one last go, to buy enough time for Arya.”

Cold, Bran. But also necessary.

"Yeah, but I don’t think it’s manipulation on his part. It’s not for anything selfish for Bran’s ego. It’s for the Three-Eyed Raven. He recognizes that the Three-Eyed Raven has to exist. If you look back in time, Bran isn’t bothered by the death of Hodor, because that’s what had to happen to allow him to get away from the White Walkers. Bran views them as a necessity for the greater good, not for himself, but for the world, for time, for history…I think the job of the Three-Eyed Raven is to keep the information and decide what to be shared. The previous Three-Eyed Raven, and all the Three-Eyed Ravens before him, they didn’t share information. They sat there, and they waited. They just kept abreast of everything."

Inside the Episode
Inside the Episode /

And what about the mark of the Night King on Bran? Is it still present on his arm? “It’s still there,” Hempstead Wright said. “It’s kind of like frostbite. But if the Night King is dead, I can’t see how it will have any supernatural connection anymore. Without a Night King, it’s redundant.”

Hempstead Wright also commented on the static, meditative nature of his character in a universe packed with action and mayhem: “I don’t know if that’s intentional, but I just like the fact that Bran is a very still character, because there aren’t many people in Game of Thrones who are content with just getting by, and letting things happen, and just watching them and observing,” he said. “It’s nice to be one of the people who isn’t reactionary, who isn’t charging around and stabbing things or whatever, but remains calm. It’s quite refreshing.”


Philadelphia Phillies Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead
Philadelphia Phillies Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead /

Philadelphia Phillies Game Of Thrones Direwolf Bobblehead

Buy Now!

Buy Now!

How big a role does Bran/the Three-eyed Raven have to play in the final two episodes? We’ll have to wait and see.

To stay up to date on everything Game of Thrones, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Watch Game of Thrones for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels