Legendary actor Max von Sydow took over the role as the Three-Eyed Raven from Struan Rodger in Game of Thrones season 6 - but what was the reason for the recast? The greenseer made only one direct appearance in season 4 before the character returned for an expanded arc two seasons later. After the Three-Eyed Raven was killed, Bran Stark took over as his successor.
The Three-Eyed Raven was present in the first three seasons on Game of Thrones in the form of a bird. After Bran fell from the tower in the pilot episode, the raven began appearing in the young boy's dreams. These visions held important messages about the past, present, and future. The Three-Eyed Raven wasn't just a name, it was the title of a powerful figure. Through greensight, the Three-Eyed Raven had the ability to use his mind to time travel to the past and future.
The human body of the Three-Eyed Raven was actually fused to the base of a weirwood tree. After receiving the visions, Bran embarked on a journey to find the ancient man. Hodor accompanied Bran to travel north beyond the Wall in search of the Three-Eyed Raven. Along the way, they encountered Jojen and Meera, who taught Bran about the Raven's prophetic visions. The group was eventually led to a cave by Leaf (another character who was recast), after getting attacked by a horde of wights. Bran was then introduced to the bearded Three-Eyed Raven played by Rodger in the season 4 finale, "The Children." He memorably told Bran that the boy would not walk again but he would fly. But the next time the Three-Eyed Raven appeared, he was played by von Sydow.
When Bran's storyline came back into focus in Game of Thrones season 6, the Three-Eyed Raven went through a major makeover. Not only was von Sydow recast in the role, but the character also had a very different appearance. The Three-Eyed Raven no longer had long hair or a flowing beard. By ditching the unkempt appearance, the man looked more like a reliable mentor.
When the Three-Eyed Raven was recast, there was no official explanation given. Considering von Sydow's star power and acting history, it seems likely that the series creators wanted a notable actor to take over the role, highlighting the importance of the character and bringing a little more prestige to the show. Von Sydow has appeared in over 100 projects including his notable roles in The Seventh Seal, The Exorcist, and Flash Gordon. He also appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka.
Von Sydow's time on Game of Thrones was short, but it was imperative to the overall story. The Three-Eyed Raven mentored Bran and helped him unleash his true greenseer powers. Through the Three-Eyed Raven's help, Bran uncovered a number of secrets - including the secret of his "brother" Jon's true parentage.