Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Isaac Hempstead-Wright was last seen as Bran Stark in season four in 2014Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It has been more than a year since Bran Stark was last seen on screen in Game Of Thrones and a lot has changed. The first photo of the character from the upcoming season six has been released and fans have been surprised by Bran's mature new image.

In the photo, released exclusively by Entertainment Weekly, Isaac Hempstead-Wright who plays the character, is seen next to his direwolf while looking into the distance. Noticeably, Bran's previously long floppy locks have been given the chop with his hair now styled into a short cut. Almost two years since he last played Bran, Hempstead-Wright has grown up, now aged 16 and around 6ft tall, according to the publication.

After missing out on season five, Bran will return to the HBO fantasy series in 2016 where his character is expected to play an essential role to the developing story. Viewers will remember Bran is a warg who has the ability to get inside the mind of animals and humans, while also possessing prophetic visions. The brother of Arya and Sansa Stark is still north of the Wall and was last seen in the season four finale surviving an attack from the wights before meeting the Three-Eyed Raven, to be played by Max von Sydow.

The issue of the child actors growing up in real life faster than their characters has long been a question for fans. George R R Martin, who wrote the Game Of Thrones books, previously told io9: "You end a book, and you've had a tremendous amount of events – but they've taken place over a short time frame, and the eight-year-old kid is still eight years old."

Hempstead-Wright rejoined the Game Of Thrones cast to film season six in July. Speaking to the Irish Examiner ahead of filming, the actor teased of Bran's upcoming plot. He said: "It's going to get particularly interesting with Bran. He has some interesting visions.

"I missed the whole of the last season because it was right in the middle of my exams, so I didn't have the time to watch it. But I'm looking forward to getting with some friends and binge-watching it all."

Season six of Game Of Thrones will premiere in April 2016 although an exact date is yet to be confirmed.

Watch the Game Of Thrones season six teaser: