Quoth the Raven: “I really think the Jon Snow thing is such a red herring in the same way the Iron Throne is perhaps the greatest red herring in TV history.”
It wasn’t really the Three-Eyed Raven of “Game of Thrones” fame talking, of course, and, alas, Isaac Hempstead Wright never did say “nevermore.”
But Wright, who plays the character who is both Brandon Stark on the HBO hit series and the all-knowing Raven, has some authority to talk for and about him. And he wanted folks to know that the White Walkers marching against humankind from the North are, in series world, the ball on which eyes must be kept.
“Bran’s got information on the origin of the White Walkers,” he said, “which ultimately is the biggest threat — this massive apocalypse looming. And so I think that's where Bran's gonna be most useful.”
He was speaking at a promotional appearance at the Michigan Avenue AT&T store Friday night, an event that looked like a segment of Comic-Con teleported to the Magnificent Mile.
Wright hit pretty much every dot on the Chicago tourist bingo card during what was his first visit here, he said: “Sears Tower,” he said, Millennium Park and the Bean, Tribune Tower, the Art Institute, Andy’s Jazz Club and a Chicago architecture boat tour.
But the place people were most interested in is thousands of miles away, maybe 900 years ago, and also Sundays at 8 p.m. on HBO.
Here’s some of what we learned, both in an individual interview and in some of the actor’s public comments at the event:
- Wright got into this series that has taken him from age 10 to 18 because “I just wanted something to do at the weekends.” He had only done a one-day TV commercial shoot before “GoT.” He’s not a huge fan of working in Northern Ireland’s cold, clammy climate, and his best friend is Dean-Charles Chapman, who played Tommen Baratheon, the suicidal king.
- Bran may be “most useful” in the battle against the White Walkers, as Wright said, but there’s also the question of how long he’ll be useful for. Asked when actors report to start shooting the show’s final season (three episodes remain in the current, penultimate one), Wright said, “I don’t know. We don’t know if I make it to the season, do we?”
- “Bran has now got one of the most important powers in the whole ‘Game of Thrones,’” the ability to see around time’s corners, Wright said. “And this puts him in, like, the NSA’s position.”
- When Bran last week quoted the master manipulator Littlefinger’s own, privately uttered line back to him, it was chilling. But Wright saw it as more a matter of fact than a warning shot from his character. “There’s no malice, I don’t think,” the actor said. “He's just sort of indicating to Littlefinger that he knows what’s going on. He’s seen everything, and I think that is probably the most frightening thing for Littlefinger, who has always been on top with information, who always has his little spies out. There’s no way he can outfox Bran on that.”
- Isn’t that, then, also frightening for Bran, that Littlefinger may now see him as a threat? “Potentially, yeah, I think so,” said Wright, “although in many ways I think Bran has transcended all those human fears and worries.”
- Before this season started, Wright and the show’s creators talked about how Brandon would be played, now that he’s mostly been taken over by the Three-Eyed Raven persona. “We wanted there to be a slight sort of spark of Brandon in there,” he said.
- When a question was asked about Hodor, the late, beloved giant character who schlepped the paralyzed Bran around on his back for several seasons, a sort of sigh erupted from the crowd. Wright said he and Kristian Nairn, the Hodor actor, became fast friends, despite a habit of the younger actor’s: “For many of the early years, I was just singing ‘SpongeBob’ songs in his ear, which he didn’t appreciate.”