John Bradley’s scenes in the “Game of Thrones” premiere were much more than a load of crap.
The “Game of Thrones” star known for playing Sam Tarly made his debut in Season 7 by appearing in a montage of poop-cleaning and soup-pouring at the Citadel, which he will no doubt discuss in his Comic-Con appearance this week. While that may have made a lot of people look away, those who kept constipating, er, concentrating on the show may have noticed something much more.
If you think you saw something, you probably did see something.
John Bradley, aka Samwell Tarly
While looking through the book in which he discovers the mountain of dragonglass under Dragonstone, Sam seems to linger on a page showing a certain dagger we’ve seen before.
Bradley told us that was no accident.
“I was told very little about that. When we were shooting that scene, I was literally told make sure that you linger on this page. They were shooting over my shoulder and said make sure to linger on this page. Make sure we get a good shot of this page before you turn the page over,” Bradley said.
That knife, of course, is the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in the attempt on Bran’s life in Season 1. It’s also an item that’s caused a lot of speculation about its place in Season 7.
Though the dagger is supposedly in Littlefinger’s (Aidan Gillen) possession, it has already shown up on Arya’s hip in a promotional photo for Entertainment Weekly.
This has led to a lot of rumors that Arya will kill Littlefinger and take his prized weapon ― but it’s just a rumor for now.
The fact that the dagger showed up in Sam’s scene, however, means we need to pay attention to it.
“It’s all part of the same universe,” Bradley told HuffPost about that moment, “and all of these storylines, no matter how spread out they feel sometimes, they are a lot of the same storyline and in the equation ... and if you think you saw something you probably did see something. It may not be what you thought you saw, but it just kind of feeds into this idea that [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] have a plan, and they are playing the long game, and they are gonna plant the seeds.”
The actor continued by explaining that he and his castmates are waiting for things to come to fruition, too.
“Our input in that is to just tell the story and make sure those moments get on camera. In terms of the overall tapestry of things, it’s out of our control. We’re waiting for some payoffs to all these little moments, as well. We know what they’re doing. We know that they’ve done a deliberate choice, but, I think … that’s gonna bear fruit if and when [Benioff and Weiss] decide it to.”
During the rest of our chat, Bradley opened up about his surprising scene with Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), a “Game of Thrones” nod to “Harry Potter” ― and sincerely apologized for all that “shit” that went down in the premiere.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to everyone who was eating dinner during the poop montage?
Just an apology. Just an apology. That’s all I can really offer. I kind of knew how [objectionable] that was going to be. We knew that was going to have an impact on people. It was kind of hard to shoot that bit. I knew that it was gonna be shot in little 5-second bursts, so I didn’t have a sense of the overall shape of it, because I had to make sure I made those little 5-second moments all work. But when I first saw it […] it became a monster. It became something that was so horrendous and so disgusting, and I think between myself and the [director Jeremy Podeswa] and David and Dan, who came up with the idea, I think we pulled it off.
The thing about that sequence is it was kind of fun and quirky and a new way of looking at it. We haven’t done a montage like that before, but apart from anything else, it’s ― in terms of the plot ― kind of essential. It’s much more essential plot and character points than people think it is because you’re going to be seeing Samwell dissatisfied and disenchanted. You saw his reaction when he arrived at the Citadel and now you see what the reality is, and you start feeling for him and start feeling his frustration. This thing he invested so much time in just turns out to be an untruth. He had this idea of this place and it’s not the reality of it. That kind of dissatisfaction, disenchantment and frustration is so essential for the character at this point. It’s nice sometimes that you can do expositional and functional plot points and dress it up in this entertaining way.
By the way, what’s your favorite soup?
I’m very keen on vegetable soup.
I should say, by the way, that some people seem to believe that Sam was feeding the maesters their own human waste. A lot of people have slightly misunderstood. They believe that Sam was … spoon-feeding the maesters their own excrement. Now even Sam’s not that frustrated. Give him some credit. He’s not that much of a baby.
In earlier seasons, Sam says he wants to be a wizard. Now you have a scene where you’re basically Harry Potter. You’re talking to Jim Broadbent, who played Professor Slughorn in the “Harry Potter” movies, and you’re asking to go to the restricted section of the library. Were you aware of that reference?
No, I wasn’t. There’s a whole “Harry Potter” phenomenon that kind of passed me by, and I don’t know why. I was kind of exactly the right age, and it’s kind of interesting that “Game of Thrones” gives you lines to say, and you don’t really know this resolve. For example, in the lead-up to the whole Jon Snow is-he-or-isn’t-he-dead thing, where Sam says, “I’ve worried about Jon for years, but he always comes back,” I didn’t know the importance of that line when I said it. You’re not always aware of the kind of subtext of the lines when you say it, and that was one of them. David and Dan are in total control of that and in control of their references. It doesn’t really matter if I know the significance of it or not.
It’s another little Easter egg. Another layer of writing that David and Dan will know, the kind of fandom-joy strategy. “Game of Thrones” is full of those, and I think that’s one of the joys of it, the fact that it makes fandoms feed off each other and gets people excited. I was completely unaware, but other people seem to be very aware of it, and I think those moments are really satisfying.
In Season 5, you and Jon talk about needing a mountain of dragonglass to fight White Walkers, and now you’ve found a mountain of dragonglass. What was Sam thinking when that happened?
That was one of those moments that makes you pay attention to lines that you didn’t think would’ve had great importance when you first played them out. At the end of the season when Jon mentioned the mountain of dragonglass, people just thought of that as a throwaway “wouldn’t it be nice” moment, and now, of course, Sam has found a location where there’s a literal mountain of dragonglass, so that’s not lost on Sam. Sam will remember that. Sam will remember Jon saying that. That really spurred Sam into action. He said, “Jon needs to know about this,” because Jon realizes that that amount of dragonglass would be needed. Sam in that moment, he’s so excited that the thing he was sent to the Citadel to do, he’s actually making a start doing.
Speaking of that scene, fans have enhanced the book Sam was looking at and saw that dragonglass could supposedly cure diseases. Then we see Sam interacting with Jorah Mormont, who’s suffering from greyscale. What did you think of that moment?
That hand coming through the door ― it was so great to be part of one of those moments of worlds colliding. I haven’t been involved in a world-colliding storyline for some time, and it’s just kind of nice because you know why Sam is there, and you know ... if Sam can find the right motive to do good for somebody else, then he will do it.
There is a link. There is a link that connects the characters, of course … which fans will probably be aware of. Maybe that’ll come into play later in the season, but this is one of those “when worlds collide” moments, and maybe finding a way of having an impact on stories outside of my own, outside of Samwell’s sphere of interest, yeah, it’s very exciting.