What It’s Like To Grow Up As An Actor On Game Of Thrones

Isaac Hempstead-Wright a.k.a. Bran Stark spills the beans

It wouldn’t be a surprise if people all around the world were dancing around in joy because, after a year-long wait, Game of Thrones is finally coming back to our TV screens!

We were left with so many questions after the last episode of season 5: Is Jon Snow dead? Will Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy survive the jump out of Winterfell? Where the hell is Bran Stark?

Well, if you’ve watched the trailer, you’d have notice Bran Stark is coming back for season 6, bigger, and probably much stronger than before. 

In the five years since the book adaptation made its TV debut, the character, and the actor playing him — the now 16 year-old Isaac Hempstead-Wright — has definitely grown. So what’s his take on one of the most talked-about TV shows of the decade? And most importantly, who does he hope will end up on the Iron Throne? Isaac Hempstead-Wright spoke to us in a roundtable interview while he was in town recently.

You been acting since a very young age, what’s it like for you?

Isaac Hempstead-Wright It’s been sort of surreal, because when I started I was only 10-ish years old. When you’re at that age you kind of take everything in your stride, like “Oh yeah, that’s cool, let’s try this or that.”. You never really pause for thought about the totally absurd nature of the whole thing. 

The fact that I was 10, and getting to travel all over the place, acting and being in this fantastic TV show never really dawned on me. It’s mad, but I’m happy and I’ve enjoyed every second of the crazy journey it’s been.

As a child actor, has it been easy to lead a normal life?

IHW I’ve kept a relatively normal existence actually. I still go to school, I live in a very rural part of the countryside in England, so the people there are really quite elderly, so they’re not typical Game of Thrones viewers. 

But as it’s gone on, it’s been noticeable, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable with its. It’s cool when someone comes up to meet you and loves the show you’re in. What is weird is when you’re walking on the street and people will stop to try and place you, so you get all these strange stares.

Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark and Max von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven (everyone calm down, Bran Stark is standing because this is a vision sequence)

What’s one thing you’ve learnt as Bran Stark?

IHW Bran Stark, like all of the characters in Game of Thrones, faces extreme hardship. He’s always wanted to be a knight, but got chucked out of a window and became paralysed. 

Then his family were all murdered, his home was burned down, he’s going to this very dangerous part of the North with two people he’s only just met, and he has to send his brother away. 

I think one particular scene which summed it up for me was when Bran was at Craster’s Keep (in Season 4), and there was Jon Snow, his half-brother, and he had the opportunity to meet up again and take the easy route of following him instead of following this mystical calling. 

He could have at many points just stayed where he was and not follow this feeling, and I suppose that’s a metaphor for pursuing exactly what you feel you should, which is something I very much identify with.

What’s the camaraderie like on set?

IHW We all have a really good time on set. The Stark kids are nor far-flung on different parts of the Westerosi map, so on set we never see each other, but off set we’re all pretty good friends. 

The crew’s really lovely as well. Whenever the cameras are not rolling, I’m always chatting with the props guy, or the sound guys. It’s a very professional but also very friendly set. There’s no messing around but its a really nice atmosphere. 

Also, one of my best friends ever is Dean-Charles Chapman, who plays Tommen Baratheon in Game of Thrones. We’ve both been in the industry since a very young age, so we both get the same problems we face. 

What are some unique experiences you’ve had on set?

IHW Game of Thrones certainly takes you to extraordinary places around the world, but my scenes tend to be in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is beautiful but the weather always tries to make it quite difficult to enjoy yourself.

In season 1, there was the iconic beheading scene in the first episode, where everyone commented, “Sean Bean looks really cold, great acting!”, but it was truly freezing.

Who’s the biggest practical joker?

IHW The biggest jokers have got to be our writers David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss. They often send people scripts which have been rewritten slightly specifically for them. 

During filming for season 2, Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, was sent a script where Bran Stark jumped out and kind of stabbed him in the back over and over again. Alfie texted me to say “Oh my god, I just read the new script and you stab me to death, that’s amazing.” and I was like “I’m not sure what is going on”.

They also did one for Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, where they burn his beautiful face and he was to wear a horrible mask for the rest of the season.

What are some of your favourite Game of Thrones fan theories?

IHW I really like the one where Meera Reed and Jon Snow are actually brother and sister. It’s a really cool one, but I haven’t been able to get anything out of George R.R. Martin just yet.

(Read: The Meera Reed-Jon Snow sibling theory is really cool, read up on it on this Reddit thread)

Conleth Hill as Varys and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister.

Which Game of Thrones character is your favourite, besides yourself?

IHW I love Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage). He’s funny and smart, which is something I feel gets pushed aside in Westeros in favour of just kind of getting stabbed. It’s refreshing to have a character that’s holding on to and keeping his wit through these particularly tough times.

What happens when a character has to be killed off? 

IHW They always say, it’s sort of like getting the Mafia treatment. You always get a nice bottle of champagne, fancy chocolates and a bouquet of flowers before they kill you off. Dave and Dan will also take you out for dinner. 

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark.

Who do you want to see on the Iron Throne?

IHW I’d quite like to see Sansa Stark on the throne. She’s another character who’s had to put up with some horrendous things. For her in particular, she’s had to learn the way of the diplomat. 

She’s been exposed to the politics of Westeros in a way that a few of the other characters haven’t. So I think she’d be prime to balance the politics and wars going on in the region, and she’d be a very cunning queen, but much nicer than Cersei Lannister.

If you weren’t in Game of Thrones, what TV series would you want to be in?

IHW Bojack Horseman! I thought it was so funny and clever. I’d love to be in that. 

Catch the trailer for Game of Thrones season 6 below!

Catch the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones on 25 April at 9am, with a same-day encore at 9pm, exclusively on HBO.

For more on Game of Thrones, check out Here's What Happened When We Pestered Siri About Jon Snow's Fate or Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Watch Game Of Thrones Season 6. For more on living, head here.

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