Game Of Thrones, SE 06: Bran and Three Eyed Raven
Q: Set the scene for Bran as we begin Season Six.
A: So Bran has been at the underground tree Wizarding School…
A: Yeah that’s good actually, Branwarts! We’ve been away from him for somewhere between the space of six months and a year, I think, an amount of time in which he’s been honing his skills as a Greenseer and as a Warg. Well, now he’s moving away from the Warging and into other things, more into how he can channel the power of the Weirwood tree to be able to see into the past and the future. The Three-Eyed Raven or treeman as we like to call him is sort of the king of that and he’s trying to teach Bran what he can use it for and where it’ll go.
Q: Give us a hint of what he can do with the visions…
Q: What was it like for you coming back to set after having been away last season?
A: I’d literally not been on a set for a whole year so coming back on to the Game of Thrones set was nerve wracking. Also, between season four and season six the show had got that much more massive so I was thinking, “God, can I still remember how to do this?” I think the first day I was pretty bad, looking back, I have to say!
But more than anything it was nice to see everyone again. A lot of people I hadn’t seen since season four so it was great to catch up.
Q: How do you go about pretending to be having a vision?
A: Strangely, the slightly more challenging thing was coming out of the visions because there were a couple of scenes were he had to suddenly come out and he’d been pulled out when he was really enjoying it. Effecting that whole, kind of, having been somewhere stunning and beautiful-feeling, and then waking up to the dank reality of being in a cave – that was quite fun to do. I can remember just thinking of dreams I’d had where I’d been having such a great time and then you wake up and it’s like, “No!”
Q: Is that how you picture it: as a dream?
A: Yeah definitely. I’ve kind of imagined it as like ‘Inception.’
Q: What sort of a person is Bran by this point?
A: He’s very much still got that kind of teenage, hubristic streak in him. You can see it in some of the visions where he’s not quite understanding the gravity of the whole situation, not listening and thinking he knows best. He’s very impatient, I think, and I definitely can relate to that. I feel like I’d be exactly the same in a situation like that thinking, “No, no, no I want to go out and do it.” The whole series for him has been a process of growing up very quickly but I think now more so than ever. Before he didn’t really have that much responsibility. He had to care for his brother for a bit but then he got sent off and after that it was just a matter of almost every man for himself, making it to this cave. But now he’s got an actual genuine power, which could be used for good or bad, and he needs to be able to control that. So it’s become less a matter of growing up – because I think he’s had to do that already to get to this stage – and more a matter of being wise.
Q: Is Bran able to walk in the visions?
A: Yes, I’ve got to do a bit of walking. Sadly no fighting!
Q: What was it like working with Max von Sydow?
A: Oh that was really cool. He’s very frail and old; he’s 86 or 87, so it’s astonishing he’s even still on a set. But that’s the really cool thing about the acting industry – you can start when you’re 5 and finish when you’re 86, there’s no time limit. But his voice was so powerful. He would say these lines, which you would think are just inane or for exposition, like “Oh that’s your father.” Normally a line like that would be innocuous, but he would say it and all of a sudden there was this whole other layer. He lent a gravitas to it that I don’t think anyone else could have; it was really, really nice to be able to stand next to him and not only just get to listen but then act as well. It helped me because he genuinely did feel like this wise old mysterious character.
Q: You mentioned that having been away you’ve come back and it feels bigger. How so?
A: Just seeing things like Sophie and Maisie, who were just friends, appearing in the gossip columns. I mean, what?! And just more parodies of it everywhere, Game of Thrones becoming more and more of a reference that you’d just drop into every day conversation… It has reached the point where when you walk down the street the likelihood is you’re going to hear someone mention it somewhere as you walk along. Luckily at the moment I’m relatively incognito: the last time people saw me I was that much smaller but now I’m totally different and I’ve got glasses and whatnot so no one really recognises me. Come the new season it’ll probably ramp up a bit more.
Q: How has you appreciation of the series changed as you’ve got older?
A: When I started I was only like 10 or 11 so for me it was just “Oh wow this is really cool.” I’d say these words and then get on my way and go and hang out at this cool hotel with everyone else. There was really, I can say now, very little actual thought or process in making the character: I just kind of did it; I kind of played myself. But coming back this year having had a year off and now being 16 which is officially an adult in the acting world so you can go on your own and whatnot it was cool because then I actually thought, “Oh right, wow this is an actual job. This isn’t me just being lucky and kind of hanging about, this is something I’ve go to do and think about.” So definitely I had an added appreciation of the whole process and I’d take time out to think and construct scenes more so than I ever had before.
Q: And has your view on the supernatural elements in the show changed?
A: I’m stealing David and Dan’s point here, but what’s nice about it is the magic in Game of Thrones is treated with the same scepticism it is in our world. Among the characters it has always been, “Dragons? They’ve been gone for hundreds of years,” and, “No, the White Walkers don’t exist.” So not only is there that sense that we’re watching a myth but we’re watching other people discover a myth; it’s not forced upon you. It’s not necessarily an integral part of the story, it’s kind of just this little thing on the periphery, which we’re yet to discover. Which is what’s really cool about my character: he’s our means of actually getting to visit all the magical elements of the show.
Q: In terms of motivation is Bran interested in power, family or saving the world?
A: He doesn’t really have a choice; he’s been told by the Three-Eyed Raven that he’s
the next Three-Eyed Raven. Bran’s kind of halfway in between, thinking “Okay, great, I’ll do what I have to do. I want to help out if I can,” but equally thinking “No, you know what, actually this is rubbish, I want to be back in these vision worlds. I want to be where it’s nice and where I can forget the bleak truth of my reality.” I think there’s a twinge of him almost wanting to rebel and do his own thing but pretty much his future is set in stone. He’s recognised that he’s essentially useless in terms of any kind of I suppose physical power; where he can actually have an impact is in this magic Greensight realm. He’s got to be able to learn that and get good at it so he can actually help, rather than just be a burden.
Q: Are White Walkers scary in person or in actuality are they just a tennis ball on a stick like some other CGI effects?
A: They’re scary! We had a lot of zombified extras in one scene and there I am walking through them all with them swaying in the wind slightly and their flesh hanging off. I turn round and there’s The Night’s King. That was so cool to see and filming in this big, snowy quarry it was really epic.
Q: What is The Night’s King like in person?
A: It’s our stunt guy! He’s a really sweet, funny bloke. You’re sitting there chatting to him and he’s got this kind of Darth Maul head on. They put in these extraordinary contact lenses, which have this almost hexagonal yellow shape in them so it’s pretty spooky when you’re just having a coffee with him.
Q: If you were writing Bran’s scripts…
A: I’d really like a sword. I’d have, like, sort of Ninja ones. He could be like a White Walker kind of slasher. Double Valyrian steel on his back. Or actually solid Dragonglass I think would be cooler. That also does the trick.
Q: Now we are off book, does that make it more exciting amongst the cast or more disconcerting?
A: In the previous seasons you had an idea: “Well he’s got to end up here by the end of the season.” Or “He’s definitely gotta go via there.” But now it’s like “Oh my God.” And there are genuine scenes where you think he’s actually in jeopardy, he’s gonna die here and you have no security blanket now, no safety net. But that’s the thrill of it too I guess: who knows what will happen?