By: Jacq Parairo
MANILA — “Nobody is safe.”
That’s the reassurance of “Game of Thrones” actor John Bradley West to fans of HBO’s hit fantasy TV series, which returns with its much-awaited seventh season on July 17 with winter finally coming to the fictional land of Westeros.
In a phone interview with ABS-CBN News, Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow’s bumbling sidekick, in the series, looked back on the journey that his character went through over the past six years.
“He really has become a different man. He’s stopped believing in all the stuff that have been told about himself; he’s grown and developed so much. He de-cloaked all of that crippling self-doubt and that low self-esteem, and all of the stuff he’s set boundaries for in the past, he’s overcome all of those boundaries. And now, I think he’s going forward just knowing how strong and capable he can be,” he said.
Viewers last saw Sam fulfilling his lifelong dream of studying at the Citadel, where scholars who advise the lords in the realm reside. Alongside Sam was his wildling love interest, Gilly, and her child, little Sam.
“So it’s how the season starts. You should find him in quite a happy place. And knowing ‘Game of Thrones,’ we don’t like to keep people that happy for that long,” he said.
ALL MEN MUST DIE
Indeed, the award-winning drama has gained a reputation for ruthlessly killing off crowd favorites in the past, and Sam has been lucky enough so far to survive the previous bloodsheds.
He is one of the fortunate few to reach this point without having loved and lost.
“Loss affects everybody in ‘Game of Thrones.’ Some people more than others. It’s a very recurring theme, I think,” Bradley said.
The story of “Game of Thrones” is built on protagonists vying for the highest seat in the land, and contenders to the Iron Throne — Jon Snow, Danaerys Targaryen, and Cersei Lannister — are those who have been greatly victimized by the show’s theme of loss.
“The one thing that fuels all of those characters who are in their quest to the Iron Throne is the fact that along the way, they’ve all lost somebody,” Bradley noted.
“When you have a show that is so filled with the extremes of loss and the extremes of death, what changed for all of those characters is along the way that they’ve all lost somebody that they loved, and I think that’s always a great fuel for people; it fuels people’s ambition, it fuels people’s anger, people’s sense of righteousness and people’s sense of revenge.”
The competition for the Iron Throne is getting as fierce as ever, and while there is no shortage of fans rooting for the Mother of Dragons, Bradley’s bet in the race is his character’s confidante, the King in the North.
“I’d love it to be Jon Snow. And that’s not just from blind loyalty to my storyline and my friend. He comes out on top because he’s got a very noble heart, and a noble spirit,” said Bradley. “I think of all of them he’s the person who I’d feel I was in the safest hands if they were in charge. So it’s definitely Jon Snow for me, I think he deserves it. He’d had a terrible time over the past few years. I think he deserves the Iron Throne in the end.”
Fans of the series still have a long way to go before getting to this particular ending, which author George R. R. Martin has dubbed “bittersweet,” but the wait for the second to the last season will be over in a few weeks.
WINTER IS HERE
As fans eagerly await Season 7, the cast also talked about what’s in store for viewers of the show during the Asia-exclusive interviews.
“This season is about the emerging rulers of the whole series, preparing to fight for the throne, in a way,” said Sophie Turner, who portrays Sansa Stark. “There’s a lot of meet-ups, and it feels like the world is getting much, much smaller now.”
“The amount of spectacle was ramped up in Season 6, with sequences like the Battle of the Bastards,” added Aidan Gillen, who plays the conniving Petyr Baelish in the show. “Cinematically, I feel like we’re going to have more of the same, in a good way.”
“We want to give fans more of what they’ve come to expect,” agreed Bradley, “but with enough twists and complications… You have to give them what they want.”
Liam Cunningham, meanwhile, much like his character, Ser Davos Seaworth, focused on the danger that looms in the wintry North.
“Threat is as bad as anything we’ve ever had,” Cunningham said. “The Night King is on his way with a hundred thousand of the undead, and there’s no single army as a defense.”
“It’s all new, and it’s all exciting,” assured Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson.
“It’s kind of fireworks now,” added Isaac Hempstead Wright, Bran Stark in the series.
But the Hound actor Rory McCann put the brakes on before fans could get too amped up for the next installment.
“Fans would just have a little bit more patience,” chided McCann, “Just hang on, okay, it’s coming.”
Watch the Asia-exclusive interviews with Game of Thrones Season 7 cast here.