America loves rooting on an underdog, and one of “Game of Thrones’” most endearing is John Bradley’s Samwell Tarly.
In Season 2, the member of the Night’s Watch learned things his books never could have taught him, thanks to a sweet little encounter with a shy, pregnant and very-married wildling named Gilly.
“She’s completely changed him as a person because he’s beginning to discover emotions in his life that I doubt he ever thought could be humanly possible,” John tells AccessHollywood.com of Sam’s interactions with the woman who branded the bookworm, “brave.”
Although he’s left her behind in his continuing journey beyond The Wall, Sam has a newfound confidence. No longer terrified to stand up and be noticed, John hinted that Sam may have another surprise in store for the finale. But first, a little “Blackwater” talk.
AccessHollywood.com: You loved the ‘Blackwater’ episode?
John Bradley: Oh, God. It was unbelievable.
Access: What did you think when you were watching it – you’re not in it!
John: I think when you’re not in an episode you can watch it genuinely, as an audience member. If you suspect that you’re going to do a bit that’s coming up in the episode, you don’t tend to pay too much attention to the rest of it because you’re apprehensive about your bit coming up. I could watch [‘Blackwater’] because I hadn’t even seen a script, so I didn’t know anything that was going to happen, and it was fantastic, it was great.
Access: What did you love about it?
John: The pacing of it and the contrast between the action and the scenes between Sansa and Cersei that were proper acting scenes that were quite low key — and the scene between Sansa and The Hound as well. I think the contrast between the action and the stuff going on deep in the depths of King’s Landing were really interesting, because if you were [going at a] constant, 100-mile action for an hour, it tends to dazzle you a little bit, but because you add the light and the shade of those parts, it’s fascinating.
Access: So on to the Season 2 finale… Last we saw Sam, he found dragonglass in Episode 8. What’s coming up?
John: Without giving too much away, basically, Samwell, who doesn’t feel that he could ever really have much of an effect on anything when it comes to helping the Night’s Watch do what they have to do, suddenly finds through finding this dragonglass, this obsidian that he’s got, that he’s found a way of doing something that — up until then — was a complete mystery to anybody else. So, through this dragonglass, he finds his worth as a member of the Night’s Watch.
Access: Sam really grew up this season. What did you love the most about him? He had his first taste of falling in love, he became more assertive and he finally fit in.
John: I think all of that, all of those moments relate to Gilly. I think that she’s completely changed him as a person because he’s beginning to discover emotions in his life that I doubt he ever thought could be humanly possible, not only because he took the vow of purity of the Night’s Watch — they’ve all got to deal with that — I think Sam had one or two more hurdles to get over before he could ever imagine himself falling in love. I think that she’s brought [out] the best of Sam, even though everybody else in the Night’s Watch are getting exasperated with him talking about her all the time. I think that he, for the first time, he’s discovering, the pain as well as the joy that comes with love.
Access: How excited are you for the finale?
John: It’s gone so incredibly quickly… And considering where all of the characters started at the start of Season 2, right through to the final episode of Season 2, even though its just 10 hours, everyone’s just gone on incredible journeys.
Access: Have you had a chance to interact with any of the celeb fans, they are growing by leaps and bounds.
John: I haven’t really, no.
Access: Jon Favreau is a fan. He’s Tweeted about the show.
John: That’s so exciting. Appealing to the general public and the viewers is very, very important. It’s probably the most important thing, but to appeal to people in the industry and to have them give their stamp of approval on it, is just such a thrill, especially somebody as prestigious as we seem to be getting. I mean, everybody who’s anybody seems to like it and that’s very exciting… It makes you very, very proud to be involved in [the show].
Access: What’s it like being a ‘GOT’ actor and being on Twitter (@JohnBradleyWest) because the fans are not shy.
John: No, but I like that… Because they are so passionate about it, and they care so much about every aspect of it, there’s no chance that anything they say they don’t mean. So if you get a compliment from them or a favorable comment or a bit of support, you know that they… really mean what they say, and if they weren’t satisfied with what [you’re] doing, I’m sure they’d tell you that as well. So it means that whenever they are positive, or whenever they do like something, that it’s really heartfelt and genuine and that’s very important.
Access: Was this your first major Hollywood production out of drama school?
John: My first production full stop.
John: It was the first audition I went for. I was still in drama school when I auditioned for it. You can imagine the nerves going in that first day, not only your first day of work, but your first day of work in this massive Castle Black set with all these extras and all these cameras. You can imagine how daunting that was, but the interesting thing was, I think my reaction to it — my nerves on that first day — would have been the same no matter what job I was doing, because the first day of work nerves override the first day on “Game of Thrones” nerves.
Catch John in the “Game of Thrones” Season 2 finale, Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash