For the first time in Game of Thrones history, a major character will spend a season on the bench. But the HBO hit’s showrunners have good reasons for the decision.
A couple months ago actor Kristian Nairn (Hodor) let it slip to a reporter that he and Thrones co-star Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) had the upcoming season off. Writer and executive producer David Benioff, who is the showrunner on the acclaimed fantasy series along with Dan Weiss, tells EW exclusively that there are a couple key reasons for the move, and both are about crafting a strong season that fits within the show’s seven-year narrative plan.
“Ideally that wouldn’t have gotten out and it’s unfortunate it did,” Benioff said. “The fact is, even though we’re making changes to the books and adapting as necessary, we’re trying to keep the various storylines the same as the books and trying to keep them roughly [chronologically] parallel. And last year we caught up to the end of Bran’s storyline [in George R.R. Martin’s most recent A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons]. So if we pushed him forward this season, then he’s way ahead of where the other characters are.
“It made sense to stop where we did,” Benioff said. “He’s now entering a training period which is going to take quite some time, much of which isn’t particularly cinematic. So rather than being stuck in a cave for a year, we figured it would be interesting to leave him out for a little bit, so when you see him again…” Benioff didn’t want to reveal much more beyond that.