'Game of Thrones' Star Isaac Hempstead Wright on Bran as the Three-Eyed Raven—and Why He Doesn't Need Hodor

Lori Acken
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark — 'Game of Thrones' Season 7

Yes, Isaac Hempstead Wright—a.k.a. Game of Thrones' Bran Stark—knows you're still upset about Hodor.

He also knows that you really, really need to get over the loss of Kristian Nairn's gentle giant, Bran's longtime protector who lost his life saving the very lad who, we learned, was ultimately responsible for Hodor's diminished intellectual state in the first place.

But now that he’s Game of Thrones’ omniscient Three-Eyed Raven and on his way to Castle Black with Meera (Ellie Kendrick), the rise of Bran Stark as a Westeros power player seems all but assured as the HBO hit heads into its penultimate season on July 16. With clans Lannister, Targaryen and Stark—and all their trusted and dubious allies—preoccupied with the Iron Throne, young Bran knows best the bigger, undead-er threat that looms.

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Dialing in from the U.K., the 18-year-old Brit shared some knowledge of his own about Bran's Season 7 fate and why Hodor's sacrifice is—he swears it—not in vain.

I promised myself I wouldn’t give you crap about Hodor—but do you ever, say, meet Kristian Nairn for lunch and have him tote you into the restaurant for old times’ sake? I'd feel better.
Isaac Hempstead Wright:
Oh, yeah! I’m like, “my Hodor Uber!” [Laughs] But I do see Kristian regularly. We’re always texting and taking the piss out of each other.

When I told people I was interviewing the gent who plays Bran, a common reaction was “Oh, the guy who ruins everything!” Set folks straight about Bran’s worth and purpose.
People really got angry at Bran after Hodor. I woke up to a torrent of abuse from the internet—"@#$% you, Bran! I hate you!” Really, guys, blame the writers! This is not my doing! I didn't want to kill Hodor. But Lena Headey (who plays the equally scorned Cersei Lannister) said it's always a compliment when someone hates your character, because hopefully then you've portrayed them well.

But to be honest, it’s almost a relief that Bran doesn’t have many people left around him, because now he can just focus on being the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran, a while back, had to surrender being a normal person, and it became clear that he was still in a much wider, much, much more powerful game than just vying for the throne and endless cycling between various houses.

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This does appear to be the season that we find out Bran’s true calling…
It’s a very interesting new time for him. This is what we’ve been leading up to in Bran’s story arc ever since he fell out of that tower in Season 1. When we’re first introduced to him, it’s like “OK, yep—grow up and be a knight. Very good! You’ll be a Stark nobleman!” And then that was so completely out the window, pardon the pun. Ever since, it’s been clear that Bran has had this sort of predetermined, more important role to play. So to actually have reached that after what feels like an eternity, it’s exciting—and nerve-wracking!

Where is Bran with his rather unwieldy powers? Does he have an ability to time-travel or impact past and future, which has been part of the Game of Thrones fan discussion forever as viewers are figuring out Bran's power right along with him? Now he is the Three-Eyed Raven, he doesn't have a mentor, and it's go time.
Well, it's really worrying that he's had to jump into this, because the Three-Eyed Raven himself said to Bran, "You're not ready for this." There's that great line where Bran says, "Am I ready?" and the Three-Eyed Raven says, "Nope." [Laughs]

So, it's really frightening that Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven, and he hasn't completed the full training, exactly like you said. The last time Bran sort of gave it a shot, it ended catastrophically. And now the whole White Wall's pretty much in his hands, so he really needs to keep a very level head, and come to terms with the fact he is the Three-Eyed Raven now, he's not Bran Stark. He's really got to come into his own now.

Game of Thrones Bran Stark Night King

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark and Vladimir Furdik as the Night King in Game of Thrones (HBO)

But he’s also more vulnerable than ever, because he’s marked by the Night King—in more ways than one—and the wights can attack him anywhere. What might happen there?
As you said, Bran now has the mark of the Night on him, and I don’t really understand the technicalities of why that means the spell doesn’t work now. But basically, the Night King and the Three-Eyed Raven are archenemies from the beginning of time. We saw when the Night King came in and killed the Three-Eyed Raven that was played by Max von Sydow, there was that tension there between these two ancient foes finally battling it out, of finally that chapter coming to a close.

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I love that every character in Game of Thrones has got some serious enemies after them, but Bran now has the most powerful creature in the history of Westeros on his tail, and that might destroy him. Bran should be very, very frightened.

Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere, Sunday, July 16, 9/8c on HBO.