Making his debut last year in ‘The Awakening’, then followed by his role as Brandon (or Bran) Stark in the first season of ‘Game of Thrones’, Isaac Hempstead Wright is a busy young man.
With Season 2 filming and getting ready to debut April 1st on HBO, I was lucky enough to catch up with Wright. We were able to talk about many things, such as him falling from the tower in Season 1 to some of the more difficult scenes to film with Season 2 and how got into acting to begin with.
And don’t worry! He couldn’t give away anything about Season 2, so you do not run the risk of spoilers ahead.
Here’s what he had to say when we talked:
Have you or your family read the books at all? How did they react when they found out you were cast as Bran Stark?
My mother has read the first two books and my dad is currently on book five. And lots of our friends have got hooked too. I tried reading Game of Thrones, but found it a bit daunting. I’m going to try again when I’m a bit older. We were really excited when I got the part, although looking back I don’t think we quite knew what it meant. It was a totally new experience for us.
How different in personality is Bran from yourself? What brought you to the role? Is it hard to get into character?
At the start he’s a fairly typical ten year old, so not that different from me. Unfortunately, life has some cruel things in store for Bran and he has to endure some extreme hardships. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s really like to lose your family, the use of your legs, and all your security so I’m not sure it’s possible to get completely into his character. But I think he’s strong and intelligent and has a good survival instinct, and a good friend in Hodor!
What is it like having to perform without the use of your legs?
It doesn’t really feel odd performing without the use of my legs but it does make me more aware of how I use the rest of my body.
What is it like working with the dogs? With them being CGI this season, was that a difficult change?
It’s been really cool working with the dogs. The puppies in the direwolf scene were very sweet, and I really wanted to take one home with me. My grown up wolf is called Elsa and she is beautiful. She was still on set this season I’m glad to say. So it hasn’t been a huge change with the CGI additions.
Was it odd knowing you were going into a scene where you would be shoved from a tower? How do you prepare for something like that?
I found it cool as I was on a wire for climbing the tower and then had to fall back onto crash mats when I got pushed out. The stunt team were great – I learnt so much from Paul [Jennings, Stunt Coordinator], Amie [Stephenson, Stunt Manager] and Buster [Reeves, Assistant Stunt Coordinator]. I suppose it was a bit odd that someone was trying to kill me, but Nikolai [Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister] kept apologizing, and I would say ‘no really it’s fine!’
What was your favorite part in filming the series?
I’ve really enjoyed learning about the filming process. The cameras are amazing with all the different lenses, and I never knew about jobs like focus pullers, loaders or camera assistants and script supervisors. I also love hanging out with the crew and cast. I’ve made so many good friends.
What was your favorite scene to film? What was the hardest?
My favourite scene to film in series one was the wildlings attack – it was really exciting with lots of dramatic action. I’m fascinated by the prosthetics, they are so realistic. They gave me a few spare moulds of cuts and gashes which I was able to spook my friends with. The hardest scene was the execution scene from the pilot because of the weather. It was so cold and the winds so bitter I think it could have reached temperatures of minus 400°c.
Do you have any stories from the set you’d like to share with us?
It’s great fun being on set. There’s so much going on. It’s constantly being dressed for continuity, costume and make up are always being checked, there’s so much technical equipment everywhere and everyone is really positive and friendly. It’s just a really cool place to be. Even when you are waiting in the easy up in the cold and damp, I don’t mind. I chat to the other cast members, play cards, hang out. And this season I get to spend lots of time with Hodor [Kristian Nairn] which is brilliant. Kristian is lovely and a very funny guy, he really makes me laugh.
There are no out takes as such, which kind of surprised me. You watch these out take shows and get the impression that everything goes wrong on a film set. On GoT once the director calls ‘action’ it’s all very professional, no one makes any mistakes. Although, I had a bit of a mishap in the opening courtyard scene where Bran is doing his archery. I had to jump over a fence and chase Arya [played by Maisie Williams]. We were doing lots of takes and I was really enjoying scrambling over the fence, and had just started to imagine I was in a James Bond film when I lost my footing, missed the fence completely and went flying over, landing with a thud the other side. Tim Van Patten [Director] thought it was very funny.
What is it like combining schooling and filming?
I can really recommend combining school and filming! I’ve had lots of time off, it’s brilliant. And my school has been really supportive. They prepare work for me which I do with a tutor or my mum. It works well, so far.
Are you close with the other cast members?
Getting to know the cast has been very exciting. I’m really close to my Stark family and all the Stark household (and controversially, the Lannisters too!) I’ve been very lucky to have lots of scenes with Donald [Sumpter, who playes Maester Luwin] who has been incredibly helpful and kind to me. I get to meet other cast members too out and about. Jason [Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in Season 1] is larger than life. He can lift me up with one arm!
It must have been exciting getting your first paycheck. What was the first thing you bought?
Yeah it is pretty incredible getting paid to have all this fun, but to be honest, my mum doesn’t really like me spending my money, because she wants me to save it for university funds. Luckily though, she did let me buy a few things, the first of which was a Canon HV30 video camera and some editing software so I could start making my own films.
Was acting something you always wanted to do?
I never planned on acting. I only joined a drama club because it got me out of playing football on wintry Saturday mornings. I was very lucky to get the role of Bran. My mum said I could only do 6 auditions. I got one advert and GoT came in sixth.
Do you see yourself still acting in the future?
I would like to carry on acting, or perhaps write or direct when I’m older.
Definitely keep your eyes out. A gifted and charming young man, Wright will be one to look for in the future for sure! You can follow him on Twitter @IsaacBranFlakes.
‘Game of Thrones’ returns to HBO on April 1st at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central.