Watch the full Thronecast interview with Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark) on Sky Atlantic. LINK.
How Isaac Hempstead-Wright now enjoys global fame
Keen to avoid playing football on a cold winter’s day at his school in Faversham, Isaac Hempstead-Wright made a decision which would change his life forever.
Choosing, instead, to attend drama club, it would put him on a path to stardom which, on Monday, saw him part of the return of a global phenomenon.
Because Isaac – who turned just 15 on Wednesday – is one of the key characters in fantasy TV drama Game of Thrones.
The TV series has captured the imagination of millions around the world since it launched in 2011.
Such was the demand, when the first episode of the fourth series debuted on Monday it was first shown at 2am in the morning, to coincide with its launch in the US, just so everyone could watch it at the same time.
But it was Monday night when fans who didn’t want to get up quite so early were able to finally settle down and welcome it back to its home on Sky Atlantic.
And among those returning was Bran Stark – the character portrayed by the teenager.
What’s more, he’s now a global commodity with jobs flooding in.
His path to stardom, however, was rather more modest and one which will give plenty of youngsters attending local drama clubs, the belief that they too could one day make it big.
After being bitten by the acting bug at school, he enrolled with the Kent Youth Theatre, based in Chilham.
From there, he landed a part in the horror flick The Awakening, alongside Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and Rebecca Hall.
It was that which saw him attract the attention of the makers of Game of Thrones.
Not that it was ideal viewing for a 12-year-old.
The series is renowned for its levels of sex, violence and bad language, alongside the gripping storylines.
Since making the role his, Isaac’s career has not stopped. Last year he appeared with Eric Bana and Jim Broadbent in crime thriller Close Circuit.
Now he is the voice of lead character Egg in the animated The Boxtrolls, which also features Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Plus he appears as Octavius in Caesar, alongside Maidstone’s Mackenzie Crook.
Both titles are in post-production and due for release this year.
But, as usual, with stardom comes the difficulties. Isaac’s grammar school is, for example, keen to keep tight-lipped about their famous pupil.
One member of staff told us: “He has done well, but we are not allowed to talk about him, sorry.”
However, in an interview, the young actor explained how he combined his studies and career.
He explained: “I’ve had lots of time off…but 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.”
He has already earned two Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations for ‘outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series’ and it seems likely they will not be his first and last. But he reamins determined to get a good education first.
Quoted in another interview, he said: “I’m quite focused on school. I’d like to go to university and maybe do a PhD in something. But I think definitely I’d like to continue with the acting.
“It’s so much fun — you interact as an adult, and you get to have these experiences. I suppose it really accelerates your maturity. It’s also really fun to hang out.”
He added of his academic interest: “Some kind of science, particularly neuroscience. Or I’d like to go into classical piano.”
His talent was spotted early too.
In 2009, a review of his work at the Kent Youth Theatre said Isaac was out to “test the water with his individual routine he had prepared and practiced the week before. All that can be said about Isaac is watch this space because his talent holds no bounds”.
Boss at Kent Youth Theatre, Richard Andrews, added: “Isaac’s three-minute stand up performance about his mother was brilliant.
“The moment he arrived with us, all the girls liked him. He has great charisma.
“We were taking him to stage auditions almost immediately because he is a born natural.
“He remembers his lines and knows how to deliver them. I am so delighted we have helped kick start his career.”
Despite him saving up his Game of Thrones salary to get through university, Isaac may yet end up on the other side of the camera.
He said: “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.”
The world of Game of Thrones can be a cruel place for children—just ask any of the Stark kids. But for teenage actors on the show, it must be the job of a lifetime. And no one appears to be having more fun than Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the 15-year-old who plays Bran Stark. I rolled my eyes back into my head and warged into a chinchilla to interview the young star, and we talked about Hempstead-Wright literally outgrowing Bran, which Stark child has had it worst, and what’s coming up for Bran in Season 4.
Each season of Game of Thrones has a different dominant feeling. Season 1 was an introduction, Season 2 was about war, and Season 3 was about ripping our hearts out. What tone can we expect from Season 4?
Usually each season has a climax point, and it’s all leading up to something. And I guess Season 4 is, in a way, that something. Everything that has happened previously is culminating and reaching this huge explosive conclusion-y point. There are lots of different parts of the season, there is no climax as in the previous seasons. There are lots of crazy things happening all over the place.
And how much Bran will we be seeing this season?
There’s a bit less of Bran, but his storyline is hopping up and getting truly interesting now. I think I’m in four episodes.
When we last saw you, you were going beyond the Wall. That doesn’t seem like a very safe place, how is Bran going to handle that?
Obviously, everybody is going south of the Wall, and Bran, who is a cripple, with only a giant, two strangers he met, and a wolf, are heading into the deep dark North with all the horrible creatures. [laughs] He’s taking a huge risk. But at the same time, he absolutely knows he has to go north. There’s no other way for him to go, he can’t just hang about elsewhere or head south to see his family, because he hasn’t got a family anymore. He’s on his own now, he has to be his own Stark family and himself. And there’s this supernatural force calling him to somewhere, or rather, and he doesn’t know where it is or what it is or why, but he just knows he has to follow it.
SEASON 4 of the hit TV series Game Of Thrones will hit the small screens here this Sunday with more treachery and tests of loyalty amongst the nobilities of Westeros jostling for power.
In the continent where summers and winters can last for years, the only thing that is eternal seems to be the lust for power. This surefire element guarantees that the series, based on the best selling fantasy book by George R.R. Martin, continues to be a hit.
As the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning show survives another season, followers and fans see the power base increasing with even the child actors not spared from entering the game of power struggle and treachery.
Just how have these young characters coped and evolved this far in a series that deals with sex, gore, violence, betrayal, disloyalty and forbidden relationships?
Meeting them several times before the start of every season, it would seem that they are coping admirably well, considering the sordid, albeit addictive nature of the story.
For example, few can forget the scene from the first episode in the first season where the wee Bran Stark (played by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is pushed out of a window by the sinister but devilishly good looking knight Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
It is the first scene depicting the incestuous relationship between Jaimie and his sister, Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady), wife of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). So much is at stake in the scene that the child has to be brutally removed (Bran shatters his spine and is paralysed).
BLOOD AND GORE
Isaac, 15, was only 10 when he played Bran, son of Lord Eddard Stark (played by Sean Bean), head of the House Stark (one of the Great Houses of Westeros) and Hand Of The King.
“By the time it was screened I was 11 or 12, and obviously rather young to be watching something with lots of sex and violence. However, the violence was very much debunked because, you’d be walking around the set, taking pictures of the (decapitated) heads, you’d see buckets of blood.
“When you watch it, you will know that with every beheading scene, behind a stone, there is a guy pumping blood out of the body. So, that wasn’t too much of a problem,” said the teen actor at a recent event to launch the show’s fourth season during a chilly London winter in February.
In another interview he was quoted as saying that it was pretty much every teenager’s dream to be able to step into a world of swords and beheaded heads.
The sex part, admittedly, was more difficult but he said his mother gave him “appropriate talks on that”.
As Bran lives the life of a cripple, without his family and loved ones, he finds companionship in Jojen Reed, played by the youthful looking Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
“Bran has to grow up very quickly because not only has he lost his leg after the unfortunate incident at the tower, but he has also lost his family and his home,” said Isaac about his character.
“That is going to make someone grow up very quickly because he hasn’t got this patriachal or matriachal figures in his life and he is left to fend for himself. He has to become so much more matured and to take on so much more responsibility than any child his age,” he added.
Issac started acting in commercials and studied acting at the Kent Youth Theatre in Canterbury. He also had a part in in the horror flick The Awakening.
Asked how the Game Of Thrones series had affected his life, he said: “I had been doing it from quite a young age. This has become something I do for 1½ years. I go to school and from June, I will be in Belfast taking part in some sort of crazy game of fantasy. It is still surreal, but it hasn’t dominated my life in the way that some people think it might have.”
Although his classmates may ignore the fact that he is that famous face in the hit TV series, his teachers wouldn’t let him forget that.
“I would go into class and my teacher would say, ‘Ooh did you see the Red Wedding (episode)?’, and then we’d have a long blown conversation about it.”
When an English teacher who was new to his school realised who he was, he told Isaac he was only going to broach the subject in winter.
“He was going to come in and wait for someone to say, “It is really cold outside, and then he’d say Winter Is Coming!” referring to the first episode of Game Of Thrones.
Game Of Thrones is a giant hit for HBO and is being treated as such — receiving a two-year renewal a day after the fourth-season premiere delivered the fantasy series’ biggest ratings to date and HBO’s largest audience since The Sopranos finale. This is the first multi-season pickup for Game Of Thrones, which is now assured to run for least six seasons. How far can the hit go seems to be in the hands of the novels’ writer George R.R. Martin, who is still writing Book 6 in the seven-book series. There is breathing room — the current Season 4 chronicles events that take place toward the end of the third book. “Game Of Thrones is a phenomenon like no other,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo. “(Creators) David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling.”
Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by Martin, Thrones is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal. The Season 4 premiere this past Sunday was watched by an average of 6.6 million viewers, up 52% over last season’s debut and 23% over last season’s finale. The show added an additional 1.6 million viewers from the 11 PM and 1 AM replays, for a gross premiere-night audience of 8.2 million viewers. Season 3 of the series had an average audience of 14.4 million viewers per episode across various platforms. Executive producing Season 4 are Benioff, Weiss, Carolyn Strauss, Frank Doelger and Bernadette Caulfield; co-executive producers are Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis and George R.R. Martin; and producers are Chris Newman and Greg Spence.
Mark Hoppus from the band Blink-182 was having a hard time figuring out the storylines behind Game of Thrones. So we got Isaac Hempstead-Wright, better known as the character Bran Stark, to try explaining it to him.
Game of Thrones Season 4 premieres April 6 at 9PM, only on HBO.