WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones Season 7!
With the seventh season of Game of Thrones now come and gone, fans of the HBO series are spinning out theories as to what the end game could look like for the show's main characters. One subject that is garnering the most speculation is that Bran Stark is actually the Night King.
The theory hinges on the detail that the son of Ned Stark is constantly going back in time to try and learn how to save mankind from the White Walkers. His efforts have been unsuccessful up to this point in the story and he has now been marked the leader of the undead army, with whom he shares an odd connection.
To settle the heavily-debated topic, actor Isaac Hempstead Wright, who stars as Bran, has shot down the notion that his character is simultaneously acting as the Three-Eyed Raven and the Night King.
"I think it’s less that they’re the same person and more that they’re two of the ancient beings of Westeros," the 18-year-old actor told Vulture.
"The Three-Eyed Raven has been around for God knows how long, and White Walkers have been reported since the beginning of time. As we’ve seen, they were created by the Children of the Forest, so we can’t get much more ancient than that," he continued.
Wright then offered an analogy for how the Night King plays into the larger plot.
"Perhaps we can think of it as these are two characters with a huge amount of power, but one is a Frankenstein’s monster who is driven by nothing but hatred and violence," he said.
"Then there’s Bran, who uses his powers for good. I want to find out why the Night King is so obsessed with destroying mankind. We’ll see whether they have any kind of explanations in the next season. Hopefully we’ll find out cool stuff about both of those characters."
During the interview, Wright also dished on multiple major plotlines and offered explanations for his character's motivations throughout season 7.
Because Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven, he has the ability to go back in time and watch, and in some ways, influence events that transpired. One peculiar scene that he didn't delve into until the season 7 finale was the truth of his brother – or who he thought was his brother – Jon Snow's parentage and legitimacy.
It wasn't until Samwell Tarly recalled the ramblings of a Maester's private journal about performing an annulment and secret wedding for Prince Rhaegar Targaryen that Bran went back in time to watch his aunt, Lyanna Stark, marry the heir to the throne at the time.
"That was a bit confusing. The way I understand, it works like Bran has access. It’s like he’s got a Kindle library of every book of everything that’s ever happened in the world," Wright said.
"He can access any of it in a heartbeat, but he hasn’t yet sat there and read it all. The old Three-Eyed Raven had a thousand years to sit in that cave to read every single page of everything that’s happened in the universe, and therefore be completely all knowing. Bran isn’t completely omniscient. He can look up anything he wants, but he hasn’t got it all by heart yet," he continued.
"At that moment [in the finale], Bran was like, 'Oh, yup, Rhaegar was [Jon’s] dad,' but he doesn’t think to explore it further. When Samwell Tarly says that [Rhaegar and Lyanna] were married, he can then confirm it. When his sisters come to him offscreen and go, 'Can you look up what is the real deal with Littlefinger?' He can go, 'He said this and this and this.'"
One of the most heartbreaking scenes of season 7 was when Bran's loyal companion, Meera Reed, said goodbye to him once they reached Winterfell.
Wright discussed the idea that it was possible that warging into another human, Hodor, in season 6, could have possibly rendered him emotionless.
"Maybe the whole trauma of being back in time and being in someone else’s body like that and messing with it so much, maybe that’s what fried Bran’s brain," he said.
"I hadn’t thought of it like that. I think mostly what’s going on with Bran is focusing on what needs to happen. Not in a callous way, but it doesn’t matter that Hodor is dead or that Meera has left. They served their purpose. Bran needed to get to Winterfell so he could be with Samwell Tarly, so he could find this out and he can do whatever in the next season," he continued.
The English star says that Bran is looking at the bigger picture of the current events of Westeros as part of a "math equation."
"While Bran is still grateful for the help of Meera and Hodor, he just sees it as like a math equation on a page. He’s like, 'We have to take away that from that so we could get to that, and we needed that to get to there,'" he said.
"He’s looking at everything in a more calculated way now. He’s like a very, very powerful computer or calculator. There is a sense of some kind of personality or some vague flicker of emotion, but more than anything, Bran is just looking at this spreadsheet of equations and things that need to happen. In many ways, I don’t think Hodor and Meera are in his mind at all. He’s so dead set on what has to happen to next."
In preparing for season 7, Wright explained that he and the GOT showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, wanted Bran to be directly influenced by a specific comic book character.
"It was a really challenging thing to do this season. I had a meeting with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], our showrunners, before we started filming. We had a chat about how we wanted to play Bran this season, and they suggested Doctor Manhattan from the Watchmen comic," Wright said.
"Bran was slightly based on that, existing in all these different times at once, knowing all these various things, being this emotionless rock connecting these different timelines and the history of the universe. We wanted that, but we didn’t want a boring, monotonous character who would just go, “Yeah, I’m the Three-Eyed Raven, blah blah blah.” It becomes a bit unbelievable, and also it becomes a bit dull. Not that the whole thing isn’t completely unbelievable, but you know what I mean," he continued.
So that Bran still connects with audiences, Wright says that they still wanted him to be somewhat normal.
"We also wanted to make sure that there was a bit of Bran left, a glimmer of a person still in there," he said. "It’s like he’s the first cyborg. We just connected a supercomputer to a human being’s brain. He’s a mainframe, but there’s a little bit of his personality. More often than not, though, Bran is a vessel for human knowledge."