Isaac Hempstead Wright attends the "Game of Thrones" Season 4 premiere at Lincoln Center on March 18 in New York City. Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
While the rest of Westeros continue to bribe, kill and manipulate their way to the Iron Throne, Isaac Hempstead Wright's Bran Stark is inching closer to his destiny.
The fourth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" finds him deep in the North beyond the Wall, searching for answers about his strange new powers. But the winter that's been looming for three seasons has arrived - will Bran find what he's looking for while managing to avoid the legendary White Walkers and rebellious wildlings?
Wright, 14, sat down with Metro after the show's NYC premiere to reveal what’s in store for Bran, his pragmatic take on the battle between good and evil, and the television show he can't wait to return.
Where does Bran start out in Season 4? This season is Bran exploring his mystical side even more, because in Season 3 we had definite hints of him starting to understand his powers, especially with the introduction of Jojen Reed [Thomas Brodie-Sangster], who is a mentor to Bran, teaching him what his power is and what he can use it for. And in Season 4, not only is he getting taught more and more by Jojen, but there is this kind of supernatural force that’s pulling him somewhere, and he’s not sure where it is, but he knows there’s certainly somewhere where he has to be, and it’s important for whatever his power is — and possibly even the fate of Westeros.
Bran has some powerful abilities: His dreams are prophetic, and he can control animals. Is he excited about them, or is he apprehensive? In Season 3, when he takes control of [his guardian giant] Hodor, it’s a definite sort of, “Woah, is that acceptable?” Because taking control of another human being is really a big thing for Bran, and a huge responsibility bestowed upon him to actually use it for good and not evil, and not turn into Joffrey with it. But also, he loves it, because he can finally walk and run and be the kid he used to be again, albeit through another sort of body, but it’s both super exciting and quite scary for him.
How far will his powers grow — could he maybe control a dragon? That would be cool! I mean, that would be seriously cool. I’ll slip a note to George [R.R. Martin, the series creator].
The good guys don’t tend to win a lot on this show. Does it wear on you to keep seeing the bad guys win? I suppose constantly having your family slaughtered and bad constantly triumphing over good is a bit of a shame. But it does make it a lot more real, in the sense that it’s not this sort of happy, clappy kind of thing where it’s ‘Yeah, let’s beat everybody!’ and all the good guys triumph. It’s a bit more blunt and realistic because in life, the good guys don’t usually win, or seldom do.
Bran Stark has gone beyond the Wall in his quest to find the purpose of his growing powers. Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Who’s your favorite character? Me and Thomas, we both like Joffrey. Because he’s a horrible, vile human being — but he’s an interesting character to follow in the sense that it’s quite intriguing to see sort of just this kid, basically, given control who doesn’t really understand anything about power or politics or the gravity of the situation he is in control of. And to watch him blissfully and naively storm through like a teenager, it’s quite interesting.
What do you and the cast do at the end of the day? Belfast has a wonderful restaurant scene, so every night we book some new restaurant to go to and feast at, which is I think the only thing keeping us going after the relentless Belfast rain and snow and torment from the elements.
The fan frenzy is not quite as intense in the U.K. Do you get to live a normal life? Yeah, absolutely. Some people think that it completely changes and suddenly your life is nothing like it was before. I mean, we film for six months but it’s only a week here or a week there, it’s highly sporadic. So in between I just go back to school or I go back home and see my friends. I live in a rural part of the countryside, so most of the people there are quite old, and they’re not exactly fantasy or sex and violence fans. But then when you go to London or L.A., and you realize that on every single street corner there are posters for this show that you’re in, it’s highly surreal.
Are you a fan of the fantasy genre? I’m not, actually, never sort of drawn to it. But I can see how people do get hugely excited by this kind of thing because the story is gripping and there’s so much in it, whether you like the romance with Ygritte and Jon [Snow], or you like the dragons and Daenerys’ story, and it keeps you wanting to watch more. And there is always something new, or some kind of new intrigue.
Do you watch any TV shows? I do: “Sherlock,” “Modern Family,” “The Simpsons,” “SpongeBob [SquarePants].” I’ve got quite a weird taste, I like comedies but I also like things like “Sherlock,” quite serious. I'm just so annoyed there's going to be another year's wait for Season 4.
Two years. [Showrunner Steven Moffat] said he was gonna try to get it out more quickly!
Apparently you can't rush greatness. Ugh, 2016. We need to have words with the BBC. We film 10 hours of stuff within a year, and it takes them two years to make four and a half.
Are you allowed to watch “Game of Thrones”? At the beginning it definitely wasn’t really appropriate because I was 10 years old. But the violence wasn’t such a problem because you know it’s completely fake; walking around set and there are decapitated heads on the ground, but then when you watch it you know exactly how the blood’s squirting out of their body. The graphic sex was a bit more of a problem, but my mum talked to me about it. Actually, I’ve been able to talk to my mum about it way more than I probably would’ve been without the show.
The show has a lot of dedicated fans. Do you feel pressure to meet their expectations? It’s really cool to be a part of something where people are so passionate about it and so excited by it because, even before the show was conceived, there were the fans of the books, and the show brought in a whole new load of fans. And what’s nice is that other shows might have fans, but these fans genuinely really love it, and they thrive on the story and enjoy seeing all about it and how it all comes together, which, it’s lovely to be a part of that.
The fourth season of "Game of Thrones" begins Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Insight Editions has created a beautiful, grown-up version of a pop-up book inspired by the "Game of Thrones" opening sequence. Credit: HBO
Keep the 'Game' going
Want to take your love of “Game of Thrones” beyond the show? HBO has you covered no matter your age, from talismans featuring the house sigils of Westeros’ most powerful families by Canadian jeweler Pyrrha, to action figures of the miniature kind from Funko as well as Dark Horse’s intricately crafted statues. (Both companies are releasing new characters for Season 4.) If you’re old enough to enjoy some grog, Ommegang’s Fire & Blood Red Ale celebrates Daenerys Targaryen with this slightly floral hoppy brew made with ancho chiles.
But it’s Insight Editions’ grown-up take on a children’s classic that will impress anyone who comes across it on your coffee table. “Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros” brings the show’s Emmy-winning credits to life with astonishingly intricate 3-D models of five key locations from the series.
All of these items (except for the beer) can be purchased at the HBO Shop on Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street, or online at store.hbo.com.