Continuing my Belfast trip report. Here’s Part 1.
At breakfast, we met none other than Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the younger actor playing Bran Stark. It seemed he had just wrapped filming at Castle Ward and was to head back home, though his mother, Helen—who was absolutely lovely to speak with—said she thought he had two or three scenes left to do for the series. Isaac was incredibly sweet and polite, making a point of getting my name exactly right and using it. They left us to get ready to go, and not long after Parris departed to layer up for the Paint Hall and Magheramorne visits. George and I discussed the world book (during which I learned something about one of the characters who’ll appear in the three Dornish chapters he’s moved to The Winds of Winter) for a few more minutes before moving on ourselves, and I went downstairs to wait for them and our transportation. Fortunately, Isaac and his mother were also in the lobby, waiting for their pick-up, and I had a great conversation with them.
Things I learned that I think I can share… Everyone agreed Michelle Fairley was fantastic, and I discussed my views on Catelyn’s character with them. Isaac and Michelle Fairley had filmed a great scene together not long ago, which I later learned more details about which makes me think it’s a nice additional scene that fleshes out a period of time that’s glossed over in the text. For his climb up a certain tower, Isaac got to wear a harness, and seemed very much to enjoy this new experience. When I asked him about what it was like to play someone who had his particular problems, he admitted it was very hard, but that he kept in mind how traumatizing the experience must be when he acted in the role.
Oh, and he’s getting along great with Kristian Nairn. Isaac’s mother pointed out just how BIG Kristian was, noting that when their heads were at the level, well, Kristian’s was just massive compared to her son’s. We also discussed the dogs used as the direwolves, and it was indicated to me that a number of breeds had been used—including (if I understood rightly) Alsatians, as per prior reports (certainly, I would later see some of the dogs, and a couple of them did rather look like white Alsatians). Isaac’s mother indicated that in fact they had three sets of dogs used throughout the production, from huskies as the puppies to other types of dogs for different stages of the direwolves’ growth.
Eventually Isaac and his mother left. My impression of Isaac is that he’s wonderfully cast, and incredibly excited to be a part of something like this. He was practically bouncing up and down with his enthusiasm. Before they left, though, I did learn a bit of two pivotal scenes he had filmed ... one of which I later learned involved one of the dogs chewing quite liberally on a piece of meat wrapped around someone’s neck!
After they departed, George and Parris showed up not much later, and their driver showed up to take us on to Paint Hall. It was a nice drive during which we chatted. We discussed Charles Dance a bit (he won’t be filming until later in November, but will be introduced in episode 8, the one GRRM has written), and the fact that a mutual acquaintance who worked on Your Highness with him knew him from her childhood. Speaking of Your Highness, we ended up discussing “stoner” comedies, with George opining there were some great films ... well, Knocked Up and, uhm…. He had nothing beyond that. ;)
We also discussed the history of Paint Hall, named for the fact that its massive space was originally used to paint ships. The area where it’s located is called the Titanic Quarter, after the most infamous ship built there. In its heyday, Belfast was a major shipbuilding center, and George noted that the Belfast locals assured him that they built a great many other ships which did not sink. Certainly, seeing the Paint Hall was an experience, and I remarked that its sheer bulk reminded me of one of those hangars where NASA keeps rockets. It’s huge. I was told that it’s one of the biggest sound stages in Europe by a crew member.
What follows next was an amazing experience ... but that’s for next post.
Continued in Part 3.