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Why The Night King Gave Bran That Weird Look

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8 

The Night King isn't exactly known for his friendly face and adorable smile — and the extra-weird look he gave Bran Stark during the Battle of Winterfell on the final season of Game of Thrones had everyone wondering what was going on in his frosty brain. 

You probably remember how the scene went down: Bran sat beneath the weirwood tree in the godswood of Winterfell, awaiting the Night King's arrival. When the icy villain finally approached, he ambled toward the Stark man before stopping and staring into his eyes with an eerie look on his face — an expression most fans took as intent to murder Bran, a.k.a the Three-Eyed Raven. 

According to the Night King himself, Slovakian stuntman Vladimír Furdík, that isn't totally the case. Furdík recently revealed to Vulture the real reason why the Night King looked at Bran like he wanted to turn his insides to icicles using just his mind. 

As it turns out, it wasn't entirely because the Night King intended to hurt Bran. In actuality, the strange look he gave Bran was mostly the result of some interesting direction Furdík got ahead of the scene. The director of the Battle of Winterfell episode, Miguel Sapochnik, instructed Furdík to walk toward Bran Stark actor Isaac Hempstead Wright and imagine him as a cake that he desperately wanted to eat. 

"Because Miguel is a great director, he gave me very good direction. I remember a couple of times when I did the walk, and I go for my target, which was Bran, and he said, 'Bran, he is not man. He is a cake. And you would like to eat this cake. And I would like to see you acting, you're walking to him, you're walking like you're looking for that cake, which is waiting for you under the tree,'" explained Furdík. "Adults never run for the cake. They walk. You can see from an [adult's] body — they're going for a cake from grandmom, and they're looking forward to eating this cake. When I walk, you can see what Miguel said: 'Don't be a soldier. No. Just walk, confident. There's a cake.'"

Furdík continued, stating that the Night King may not have even wanted to kill Bran, thus killing the Three-Eyed Raven, once they finally locked eyes. Sure, the way the Night King stared at Bran suggests that murder was the only thing on his mind, but Furdík isn't convinced that was the villain's true desire at that point in time.

"Look, we think he's going to kill Bran, but who knows if he's going to kill him? He doesn't rush. Maybe he had different [plans]. Maybe he wanted to do something else. You know? Then [Arya Stark] kills him. But maybe he was gonna show them, 'No, no, no, wait, I'm here for something else!'" he said. 

Just as Furdík received instruction on how the Night King should look at Bran during the tense sequence, Hempstead Wright also spoke at length with director Sapochnik to decide the way Bran should look back at the Night King. The 20-year-old actor revealed to The New York Times that he and Sapochnik "came up with this idea that the look Bran gives the Night King is one of pity." 

Hempstead Wright further explained, "Bran saw the creation of the Night King, or the first White Walker, or whatever. He realizes that he was once just a normal guy who was forcibly strapped to a tree, and had a piece of dragonglass plunged in his heart. He didn't ask to become this raving, crazy ice killer ... So we tried to get a moment where Bran is feeling sorry for him. Bran is looking at this ancient being who didn't want to become this murderer, but is."

While Hempstead Wright acknowledged that the Night King did have it out for the Three-Eyed Raven, he offered another explanation as to why he stopped to look at Bran with that haunting look on this face: "The reason the Night King takes so long is that he's been programmed to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven from the moment he was created, so he's taking a moment to savor it."

That pause wound up costing the Night King everything, as it opened up a window for Arya (Maisie Williams) to attack and kill him — plus destroy his pack of White Walkers and wights in the process. The Night King didn't get to have his cake or eat it too, and the leaves that sprouted through the snow during the closing moments of the Game of Thrones series finale prove that he never will. Winter is over, the Night King is dead, and spring is coming.