Beware, spoilers live here in these words.
If you seen the Game of Thrones ending then you know that Bran Stark becomes king of the six kingdoms of Westeros. The little, castle-climbing boy we met in season 1 is no more, in his place is an emotionless tree wizard that was somehow elected to lead millions of people.
It was a jarring direction for Game of Thrones season 8 to take and everyone including the actor behind Bran, Isaac Hempstead, was a bit surprised to see it happen. In an interview published today with the Making of Thrones blog Hempstead talked about his character's journey, becoming king, and the ending of the series.
"I had to physically get up and walk around my flat. I said, “What?! You’re joking.” It was the very last thing I expected to happen," Hempstead said of his reaction to Bran becoming king. "I was convinced they had sent a script to everyone in which they become king or queen, so I still didn’t believe it until the read-through."
Becoming king isn't even close to the craziest thing that's happened to Bran though. His entire journey has been about becoming something more than human, becoming a magical tree wizard called the Three Eyed Raven. After leaving Winterfell Bran travels north, overcomes immense obstacles, and meets another Three Eyed Raven who teaches him greensight, the ability to perceive the past, present and future through visions and time travel.
While the show doesn't explore the backstory behind the Three Eyed Raven as much as it could, it was still one of the most dramatic changes a character can go through in a show. The eager little boy who wanted to become a knight grew into a motionless man after training with the Three Eyed Raven. Hempstead said the biggest challenge was making sure Bran was still a compelling character after becoming slightly boring.
"It’s been an interesting one, he’s had such a massive character evolution and he’s pretty much unrecognizable by the end," he said. "For the first six seasons it was pretty straight forward, everything was pretty gradual, he was more or less the same person just getting a little bit wiser, and learning how harsh the world all is."
"The thing about Bran, he’s not human, he’s not normal, so there’s nothing to base him on," he continued. "It was just getting that balance of mystery and strangeness but with some little spark in him that keeps you compelled to see him on screen."
While there are entire fan theories written around why Bran is crowned, the show never really explores how the Stark boy became king. It's all sort of wrapped up in half an episode. Even still, Hempstead views the arc as a story with a powerful message.
"To have this disabled 10 year old in this incredibly harsh world...you think he has no chance of survival, he’s not going to make it anywhere," Hempstead said. "And yet against all odds, despite being a traditionally “weak” character he travels north of the Wall to one of the most dangerous points on the map, and comes back this incredibly powerful, wise, calm character."
Looking to dive into the weirder side of Westeros? Then dig into these Game of Thrones theories.