After nearly a week of wandering the the more civilized portions of England whilst on vacation (or “on holiday” as a proper Englishman might say), and following days of expected touring of such places as Oxford University (historic), the Tower of London (impressive), British Parliament and the House of Commons (eye-poppingly impressive), and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum (the one in Hollywood is better), a sore-footed but forthright FaBio met the actor John Bradley in a train depot in central London.
John Bradley (born John Bradley West) was indeed a welcoming sight to me, still clearly an American fish out of water. The London tubes can be a little confounding to a modern-day Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (I’d hate to think of how I’d do in a city where the pervading language isn’t, you know, English) and I left early enough that I knew I’d be on time. And I was still nearly late. But there stood John, hands stuffed in the pockets of his over-coat, waiting calmly and smiling placidly.
You almost expect John to have that same self-conscious mien as the beloved character he plays, with the nervous hitch to his words, the slumped-forward shoulders, and all the other Samwell Tarly affectations. (I suppose that’s why it’s called “acting.”) But what I got was a very bright young man, confident in his shoes, casually but smartly dressed in a dark gray longcoat, with a red and black thin-striped scarf ’round his throat and tucked in front. His hair was Samwell-styled short, but his face clean-shaven, which takes approximately three years off of an already youthful look. He could easily pass for someone still attending college. He shook my hand with vigor and proceeded to lead a merry chase from the train station to and through the vibrant energy of London’s Soho—a place, perhaps not too oddly, much akin to New York’s SoHo. It’s a neighborhood with a buzzy feel to it, only slightly urban and a bit more manic than anything I would consider overtly trendy or hipster (though don’t tell that to all the Japanese fashion bloggers; the bustling Soho streets are occasionally made to stop by Chibi-like shouts of glee as young twentysomething Japanese girls occasionally force Londoners in odd or edgy clothes to pose for pictures).
But it’s here John takes me, to the Soho Theatre Bar where we can conduct our interview with a modicum of quiet surrounding us. John knows the Soho Theatre well; he did his drama showcase there while in school, and even auditioned for the role of Sam directly across the street. This is clearly a performer’s nook.
I sat down with John and we conversed about a half-gazillion things, including music, English football, gambling with minors, Loras bloody Tyrell, Kit Harington, Ricky Gervais, and yes, the color indigo, amongst many, many other things. A fun time was had.
By now most of you know my interview style: haphazardly off-the-cuff, long-winded, and prone to tangents that make no sense. It’s really more ‘A conversation with…’ than an interview. John did his best to keep me on track. This young man acquits himself well, and it’s easy to say he’s an “old soul,” mature beyond his years, but that’s only catching a facet of John Bradley. He can carry on a serious conversation about acting, his friends, his family… and subtly add something off the cuff that makes you pause, wondering if he’s “having a go” at you. His wit is subtle and even sly; there may be times during the interview in which you might ask, “Was he serious?” The answer is “Usually not, but perhaps a little.” He uses his big brown puppydog eyes to their utmost effect, his eyebrows dancing this way and that. This is a pretty damned smart guy, though he is prone to using the word “incredible” a bit more than most. His inflections rise near the end of some of his words, so when you read “Yeah,” it’s not said in a monotone American way, but bouncy, youthful British, like “YeAH,” almost like a question. If you want to imagine how a typical conversation sounds, just close your eyes and imagine: “I always wanted to be a wizard.” Pause for laughter. “Well I did!”
Ultra-short bio: John Bradley West came bouncing into the world in September of 1988. Born and raised in Manchester, England, a home he hearkens to often, John attended the Manchester School of Theatre at Manchester Metropolitan University (which used to simply be called “The MMU” before someone decided to be all official). He started there at age 19 after his formal schooling, and that seems to be the way a lot of attendees go, though not as a rule; many others don’t join until much later in their lives. (John mentioned many people join in their 30’s, which is great for character diversity.) He graduated and, three months later, landed the role that would make most Game of Thrones fans fall in love with him.
FaB: Let’s go to the beginning. What inspired you to be an actor?
JB: I think I was inspired to be a performer before I was inspired to be an actor. There was just something about being in a different world. I found certain images and certain visual motifs very interesting. I was obsessed with Oliver. The musical. And what I used to do—and my dad still loves to bring this up, to my eternal embarrassment—I used to disappear for a while, when there was family around, and I used to cobble together a costume from various different things I could find. My mum’s coat, my dad’s work boots, just get myself some props… none of it was safe, I’d grab it and, completely unannounced, I’d walk in and start doing a little scene.
It sounds quite awkward. But there was something about just being able to connect with people. And I felt connected with [performing] before I really knew what was going on. With comedians and with show business. It was more show business than art.
So it was live performance at an early age for you.
I think so, yeah! It was a way to find attention, like many do amongst other brothers and sisters.
Are you the youngest? Middle child?
I was the youngest of two. My sister sister is 13 years older than I. So it wasn’t really a brother/sister relationship. It was was a relationship of greater respect. More like an elderly female relative, like an aunt. Even though she was 14, 15, I saw that as incredibly sophisticated.
So you were performing for her as well.
For everyone, yeah.
So once you got past your formative years, did your family still support it? The acting. Did they encourage?
Definitely. And they were always very keen to come and see what I was up to. But I stopped them for a long time.
[FaB laughs…] Why?
Because… even back then I was… well, I don’t want to say I was “method,” because that is ridiculous at that age. I mean, I was eleven. But even just to be able to create a character for yourself, and to be involved in it, this unreal thing… I didn’t want any trace of my real life to be there. If you understand that.
I do! I write under a pen name. My mother asks me all the time, “Why don’t you write under your own name?” Like I’m not proud of it. And I’m perfectly proud of it, and of what I do, but in a sense I kind of create this character when I write. I’m more bombastic. I suppose I’m bombastic in real life as well, but…
[FaB Note: This is also because if too many people know FaB’s real name they would Facebook him, and he kind of hates it when people Facebook him, since the entirety of his insane family is on Facebook. Need to keep those lunatics locked away for as long as humanly possible.]
It’s kind of comforting to be able to duck behind something else.
It’s like a wall.
Yeah, and you can blame a lot of stuff on it.
There are a lot of stand-up comedians who say exactly that. “If I go on, presenting this character, I can say things that are so objectionable…” Though if people don’t understand I’m playing a character it can finish me completely. And I think it’s kind of that. One thing I was told in drama school was that I never really gave myself over. Not completely. Certain actors don’t do that. People like DeNiro… they take bits of themselves, put bits of themselves in without changing themselves completely. But with Shakespearean characters that wouldn’t work. You need to create something completely different. And I was told to give myself over more to the world of it, and not kind of… look on it with the kind of cynical way I do.
You’ve done Shakespeare.
In drama school, yeah.
What’s your favorite?
I think the characters in the comedies are better, and the stories in the tragedies are better. For an actor like me… because I’m never going to play Hamlet. [He has a bit of an awkward grin.] It’s going to be more Bottom, it’s going to be more Toby Belch. So those are the characters who stand out to me. But story wise… well, Game of Thrones is like that, with its psychology and its motives. About a man whose elevated to a position, and then he slowly starts to become paranoid, realizing where he is, very worried about what his future is going to hold, worrying about what’s going on behind his back. And that’s MacBeth.
Yes! When I spoke with Lena Headey, we talked about MacBethian themes.
Queen Cersei: Very MacBethian.
Talk to me about your first day on set. Very first day.
It was… incredibly daunting. The good thing I can say about it was, my introduction, my first filmed scene, was the one where Grenn dives. He falls. And in that scene I didn’t speak at all. Which kind of took the pressure off a little bit. I didn’t feel like I had to act, every single second of it. I wasn’t really the main focus, which took the pressure off, learning lines and such, and I could just sort of learn a bit more sneakily than if I had to go and learn lines. It was my first day of filming ever. My first day in front of a camera. The last bit of acting I’d done was my final show in drama school, three months earlier. So I just didn’t know what to expect.
What was the biggest surprise?
I was surprised by how much time it took to do everything. But I think that’s universal for anybody who steps in front of a camera for the first time.
Well the old saying is, “You’re not paid to act—you’re paid to wait to act.”
That’s pretty much true, yeah. The good thing was I had met… well, obviously Kit [Harington], Mark [Stanley], and Joe [Altin] and Luke [McEwan]. And Owen [Teale], briefly before that. We did a fight rehearsal. So we’d already grown attached to each other in that time. So that was nice. Also, Kit had done the pilot, but he was new to film as well. Joe has done all sorts of film.
He’s been in a good amount of films, and he’s nice. So it’s an excellent thing to have someone with that kind of experience in the dirt with us on our level. But Mark and Luke were rather new to it as well, so it was kind of nice with all of us feeling our way through together. They’re really nice lads too. It can be nerve-wracking without that support. Could feel like you’re just being thrown into the deep end.
I loved the scene where Rast is finally browbeaten into not fighting Sam… he just sort of, in an annoyed way, bats Sam’s clumsy thrust aside. And Sam loses the sword and has to chase it. The look on Rast’s face…
Jon’s special little form of intimidation. Works wonders. Luke played that well.
I like Luke. I follow him on Twitter. He comes across every so often as sort of down on himself. But it’s done in this funny way, he’s quite charming.
It’s the Liverpool thing. People from Liverpool have got a certain kind of humor about them. And he’s the epitome of that. Self-depricating. He’s confident enough in his ability to be funny that he is self-depricating. Someone who is genuinely down on themselves probably wouldn’t put it over.
So that’s Liverpool basically representing Liverpool.
[FaB segues to the topic of Samwell’s introduction…]
In my initial scene you don’t know what to make of [Sam].
Yeah, just some big guy wandering in and getting his ass kicked.
I tried to play in that first scene, a man who… well, he’s clearly got a lot about him, as we later see, but he comes into this completely alien place, and he’s literally paralyzed by fear. So he can’t get anything of his personality across at all. And so I think that’s why people, when he first came in, the other Night’s Watch people—and Thorne especially—saw him as completely useless. Because he was far too intimidated. There’s nothing positive coming across at all. That’s what we were going for at least.
My view is, well, from Sam’s view: he comes into a place where he sees humanity lowered to its most base, violent, disgusting levels. And he’s been thrown here. And now he has to fight with his fists, and do all the things his father unsuccessfully tried to beat into him. It didn’t take, for all these years. And if he couldn’t do it for love of his family, how is he expected to do it here with these people in the freezing bitter cold, you know?
It’s such an interesting character. And a lot of people agree with me: you nailed it, man. You won George, Dave, and Dan, and everyone at the auditions, and I really think you won the massive majority of “us.”
That’s very nice, thank you.
Did you feel, when you read the script, “I can do this.” Or did you feel, “This is really gonna be tough.”
I felt that… because he changes so quickly, kind of [tough]. I had four scenes in episode four. And from the first scene to the last scene, you see a complete range of what this guy’s about. He goes from feeling incredibly weak, to a man who feels strong enough to tell somebody what’s going on. He’s gaining confidence already. And by the final scene he’s already found his place. Can even speak his mind a bit.
“A bit nippy.”
“A bit nippy.” Exactly, yeah. I loved it. That scene, scrubbing the tables, it wasn’t in initially. I already knew the scene on [top of] the Wall from the audition. I thought, “This is going to be so interesting, to make this guy…” In his barest form, he’s quite an unlikeable guy, in his first scene, especially. You think, “What are you doing, why are you putting up with this?” There’s a bit where I get knocked down for the first time… and Thorne goes, “Get up,” and Sam tries to get up. He doesn’t have the balls to not get up. He’s getting up and taking it again. And you [the audience’ just say, “Don’t do it! For God’s sake, don’t do it!” So it’s quite hard to get people to sympathize for him. Because quite often when you get that, people go, “Oh, just leave him. He’s a lost cause.”
And this is a testament to how well it’s written; the writers were able to put that [the audience’s reaction], on Pyp and Grenn. It’s like they said, “We’re gonna have that reflected in their eyes.” Because… well, Grenn, he’s not the brightest lad in the world, because he thinks cowardice is almost contagious.
[John laughs…] Yeah!
[FaB does a horrible rendition of Grenn…] “Well now they’re gonna think we’re cowards too!” But there was a moment, and I wanted to compliment Josef on this as well, where Thorne reminds everybody that the Wall isn’t a place for coddling boys. You’re all going to be men of the Night’s Watch, and this is the man who will be guarding your back. And Pyp does get a look of, “Oh crap.” Even though he’s sympathizing with Sam, there’s that ‘oh crap’ look.
I saw that moment! It was very powerful.
It’s very good. The Jon / Sam relationship so powerful… so integral to the story. Tell us a little bit about how you get along with Kit in real life, because it seems as though you both get along very well.
Incredibly well. We spent a lot of time… I wouldn’t say actively trying to make friends with each other, because that would feel unnatural… but any spent time we spent together we got on fantastically. It wasn’t contrived at all, wasn’t like [producers] were forcing us to spend time together. And I felt incredibly comfortable working with him. Because he’s so good. And one of the most important things that an actor can have in a scene is that he listens. That scene on the Wall: he’s got a close-up, and he’s just listening. And listening is incredibly hard to do. You have to feel incredibly comfortable with an actor to listen properly. Because the temptation is to say, “Well now I have to say something,” but Kit really does listen. He’s superb at that. His face, without saying anything at all, can convey a whole wealth of feeling, of sentiment. There’s nothing worse in real life, talking to somebody and realizing they’re not listening. And to act with that is even more unnerving.
Because other people are going to see that non-reaction.
Right. And it doesn’t matter [with Kit] if the camera’s on or not. He acts every single second of it out. He’s superb. And he’s lovely as well.
[FaB mentions Kit’s former—and lauded—role in War Horse…]
I didn’t get to see it live, but I saw the documentary. Even there you can tell what a gifted actor he is, not just an actor, but a person. And he connects with whomever he’s with, being a person or a mechanical horse. He’s just got a certain kind of charisma about him that makes him a perfect choice for a hero. He makes Jon Snow a hero.
Yes, of course. The best kind of hero is a hero without ego. And Sam is a hero without ego.
No ego at all. Sometimes it’s braver if you take it than it is to stand up to it. Because if you stand up for it, you’re trying to get yourself out of pain. And if you take it, you’re accepting it. That’s a lot braver, in a sense.
Sam definitely accepts who he is. And I think Jon is drawn to that immediately. Jon Snow has always felt there is something he has to be. And here’s this noble’s son, who has already accepted who he is. Sam says, “Well this is who I am.” I think Jon sees that as a form of bravery in and of itself.
That’s exactly right.
You get to work with Peter Vaughn.
What is that like? Because, lord willing we get season 3 and season 4… Sam and Maester Aemon get some really good scenes together. You sort of have to acclimate yourself to working regularly with one of the most respected performers there is.
He’s stunning. In the 70’s and 80’s, he was where people went for certain kinds of characters. He was in a sitcom called Porridge, set in a prison… one of the best beloved sitcoms in British history. And he was incredible in it. And he played a kind-of gangster who, unofficially, took charge of the whole prison. It was kind of a sinister part for a comedy. His character had this extremely sharp wit… really, he was someone I’ve been dying to work with. He was in a scene with me where he spoke to me but I couldn’t speak back. I was dying to speak back. It was amazing, one of those pinch yourself moments. With James Cosmo as well. Legend. And these people are in charge of us at Castle Black, but you sort of feel like they are in charge of us in performance as well.
I’m sure that natural sort of hierarchy does kind of establish itself. Because they have the experience. Not just as their characters, but as actors.
We’d get incredibly worried about this or that, the young actors I mean, but they’ve experienced so much, they just treat it like a day’s work. And it will be great if any of us are able to get that far, where acting just becomes complete second nature. They’re incredible.
Well you have to think they began the same as you. Mark Addy, Sean Bean, all the stuff they’ve done… at some point in time, they were where you are at, where Kit is at. And you can only hope that you can have that kind of longevity.
The ball is really rolling. I just got to watch episode 5, and that was my favorite episode thus far. [Pause.] Uh, even though you weren’t in it. Sorry you weren’t in it!
[Dryly…] Clearly the reason you enjoyed it. A distinct lack of me.
[FaB is laughing. He accidentally kicks the table like a klutz…] It really does get better and better.
Every week, [the momentum] just keeps rolling. Different people are always coming into it. It can’t get stale. There’s something new. There’s always a reason to watch… it’s not repetitive at all. It can’t possibly get repetitive.
Completely true. I do feel bad for people who only latch onto one character. Because you only really get a little bit of that one person. I feel sorry for people who fixate on only, say, the Hound, “He’s not getting enough lines, he’s not doing enough this or that.” As a storyteller myself, and from a critic standpoint, I know you just can’t tell it the same way.
It’s true. If somebody’s writing a novel, they can spend pages and pages—and in real time hours and hours—just creating a scene, and on screen it can be seen in one second. And all the details there. A camera is totally in charge. You as the audience can give yourself over to a camera, because a camera is telling what you are looking at. In a play, you have character stage left and character stage right, and you have to choose who you look at. A camera makes the decisions for you. A film audience takes a more passive role, and a theatre audience is incredibly active in how they experience it.
[Talk shifts to the difference between television and film in book adaptations…]
We have ten hours to get this [show] across. That’s why any suggestion of a movie is ridiculous.
Yeah, I sometimes still don’t know how they did The Lord of the Rings in three movies.
Three epic movies.
Excellent movies! But it’s still impossible to do Game of Thrones that way. When the news came across that it was HBO… we rejoiced. Many of us believed this was the only way they could do this. With all the violent, horrible… stuff. And the sex… Unless they just completely dumb it down, they would not be able to tell it properly. So we were very happy. Have you gotten any feedback from family members regarding the adult nature of the show?
It’s kind of unsaid. Which I’d prefer for it to remain unsaid. I just think that… well, Mark [Addy], in the BAFTA presentation, talked about the Dany and Khal Drogo, and the horrific nature of those sex scenes, and it’s necessary to kind of convey the kind of man that he is and the kind of world that it is. And it’s not… nothing in it is salacious. I think it’s entirely necessary and entirely justified, but I think people have an automatic gut reaction when they see something like this. As if [saying] “I’m supposed to disapprove of it.” People think putting sex and violence into art equals dumbing down, when it’s really dumbing it up. And some sectors in film use it as pornography. I’m not talking about pornography. I’m talking about a sexual situation that’s put into a film to enhance something, to explain something. And I just think, if you can’t accept that, in its context, it shows a degree of immaturity. Which means you should probably stay away from it.
You said it perfectly. You just said it all.
[Here comes that half-smile again, and he murmurs graciously, jokingly agreeing that he is, indeed, fantastic…] It’s okay.
The fifth episode has a gay scene… and there was… I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was, by the reaction. Some people were incensed. “How could they make those two characters gay?!” And my own reaction was, “Did you not read the books? George did everything but scream it from the rafters!” And the scene itself is not a salacious or disgusting scene. I found it, for the most part, tastefully done.
Context is all.
They’re just showing a relationship. Granted it’s a secret relationship… It’s not something either of these characters can do in public. It was a playful, private scene.
The books can put that [secrecy] across incredibly subtly… whereas in a visual image, a film, it’s very hard to do that. It has to be manifested in some sort of physical action, because otherwise, just to rely on Shakespearean style first person exposition… it can’t happen.
I think they’ve done a remarkable job. There’s a certain level of exposition that kind of needs to happen. They have placed a lot of exposition within conversations, within love scenes. The one with Viserys and Doreah, the slave, in the tub, talking about the dragons. And they’re giving you a history of the dragons while at the same time giving you an interesting visual to look at. I thought it was well done. But for some people, it was just too much for them!
Exactly. Yeah, I think a lot of people… when things are done like that and they [react badly]… I think it shows something about them. [He then adds with mock caution…] Not to take any sides on this debate, of course. I’m very careful not to do that. But in terms of “We can’t look at that while listening to that.” The juxtaposition frightens a lot of people, because they can’t compute being given two pieces of information at once. Being given the visual, and being given the contextual. And that’s fine. It means they can take away what they want from it. Which is nice as well. I mean, I used to watch programs when I was a child that I enjoyed for a completely different reason than I do now. And when you can get a series that can communicate to so many people on so many different levels, it’s great. You shouldn’t shy away from that at all.
I like what they’re doing with the series. All my personal complaints are the “not long enough” scenes, not showing the dogs—the wolves—enough, et cetera, though I also understand there are always time constraint issues. And I do understand the Northern Inuit dogs were a little difficult to work with as well.
They could be difficult, yeah.
Did you have any direct working contact with the dog that played Ghost?
Yeah! I… well, I should have had more than I did. If you know what I mean.
But I think whenever the character of Ghost is involved, I think, because of various elements, he’s had to be used fairly liberally. But I think what he does do is very exciting. When he attacks Rast, that’s an amazing visual, because you’ve almost kind of forgotten about him.
[Short FaB rant about how they could have perhaps included one bloody shot of Ghost on the road to the Wall, and that would have staved off so many of the ‘No Ghost’ complaints…] However, if the primary complaint people have about the show is “Each episode ends before I want it to,” then that’s in effect a compliment!
The worst thing you can do is outstay your welcome, I think. And I’ve been to plays where I’ve said, “I enjoyed that but it would have been all the better had it ended an hour ago.”
There’s a question: When you’re onstage, can you feel a restless audience? Is there a ripple effect? A dissatisfaction you can sense? Before there’s any outward acting-out?
You do sense it. It’s very easy to sense. We were lucky in that we did a large variety of things. We did comedy… but we also did Chekovian dramas and things. We did Three Sisters in third year. And it went on for three-and-a-half hours. And the worst thing that could happen actually happened. We took the curtain call at about 10 to 11 at night. When we bowed, a woman shouted “Hooray!” Literally shouting it. Not a cheer.
But what can you do from there but have a laugh about it, right?
Well except we had one more night to do it. Which isn’t… good. “Hooray.” I’ll never forget that. It’s a hard feeling when things aren’t working out. You put a lot into it, the rehearsal, and then… yeah. Like with a comedy you have “bullet points,” and you think one will work, like, “This will get it back on track,” and then it doesn’t, and you have three or four more…
It sounds like one of those trains-you-can’t-stop scenarios.
Exactly like that. And that’s the difference with TV. Because the director [can control things] and the editor, he can control a lot. In a sense, a lot of the actor’s work is done by the editor. But onstage, it’s left to you. Just you. There’s no technological bridge between you and the audience. In theatre, all the technique, all the things you can do is all in your body. There’s techniques [you learn] that help you with your voice, with your body, your core strength, et cetera. And it’s all very inward. In film and TV, the technique is more outward-looking. It’s about how you relate to the space around you, hitting your mark, having your body in the right position; move a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left; don’t look this way, look him in the eye there. It’s more about how you relate to your surroundings rather than how your body relates to itself.
And the camera catches every single twitch as well. Every facial movement.
But on stage you can’t… [FaB gestures in a grandiose sort of way.]
Of course. You’d look ridiculous.
Something I was always curious about: the mindset of getting into the acting profession. It’s not a job you actively look to retire. Whereas every other job, just about, you look toward the day you can comfortably retire. Performing, you don’t want to be retired!
So you’re kind of entering a profession in which you literally want to work the entirety of your life.
It is a little odd. But I’ve always thought there were two different kinds of actors. There are ones who work toward a peak of artistic endeavor, and actors who set out towards reaching a certain level of fame. And having worked with proper actors now, I think most actors are concerned with art first. And there you concern yourself with making yourself a better and better and better actor. You never retire, mentally. You have to keep pushing yourself on, because you’re never as good as you could be. Whereas people who just want to get into movies… It’s quite easy to get into movies. Staying in movies is hard.
Some actors, they get to a certain level of fame. And they just stop kind of… putting the effort in, and they treat acting as a sort of personal appearance. And those people have already retired. They retired from art.
They’re just pulling paychecks.
Yeah, they’ve retired from whatever initial ambition they had.
[FaB begins script talk…] You said earlier you don’t have any scripts yet from season two.
You can always tell your friendly neighborhood friends at Winter-Is-Coming.net when you do! Because you always come to our site, right? [FaB is leading the witness…] Probably four or five times a day, don’t you, John? [Really leading…] Perhaps more.
Oh, yeah! [He’s mock-seeking an escape with his eyes.] Really, I do. [Then more truthfully…] I actually click on any links I see on Twitter. [John follows @WiCnet on Twitter. Thank you, ser!]
[Well, really… he should be following @Axechucker on Twitter, since FaB is way cooler than anyone else who writes for the site. Readers included. Bunch of dorks, really.]
[NOTE: At this point in the interview, the quiet bar in which we’re seated becomes not so quiet, as Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” is being blasted from the bar loudspeaker system. And it’s a fine song, on its own, really. I like it. However they have it on repeat. I think we end up listening to “Rolling In The Deep” fifteen times. And let’s be frank: no Adele song is that good.]
[We talk a bit about his work with Tom Fontana and John Doman in his Borgias project from Canal+, not to be confused with Showtime’s The Borgias. FaB asks John about the differences between Samwell Tarly and and his Borgia character, Giovanni…]
I think that there’s a lot more to be read and researched about an historical character. But the fact is, a lot of that might just be conjecture. And there’s a lot of conflicting reports on people. With Samwell, you’re not going to get conflicting reports. The guy who created this character is still muckin’ about.
Yes he is! Ol’ George, muckin’ about!
So any questions that need to be asked can at least be fielded to somebody who has an absolute definitive answer. You’re not going to get a conflicting answer from George with regard to Samwell. So in terms of that, Samwell is somehow more real than Giovanni, because the head that he came out of is still open to question. And the actual Giovanni, and the people who knew Giovanni, are gone completely. So I can’t ask anything. But at the same time I have more freedom to create a character, knowing that nobody has anything to compare it to. The characters are similar in that both are from good families and both were sent into an environment that they’re not accustomed to, and not really ready for. The main difference probably is… Giovanni’s definitely braver. And braver with authority. The bit where Thorne comes into the mess hall and talks about eating me… [John gives FaB a bit of a leery look…] He [Sam] says nothing. I think Giovanni would at least have the balls to walk off.
I sort of got the feeling Sam gave his “A bit nippy” response just before he realized who he was talking to.
Yeah! [John seems pleased that translated.]
Was “A bit nippy” in the script?
It was in the script.
It sounds like a John Bradleyism.
No, no, it wasn’t. I wouldn’t dare! [By his mischievous look, it is clear he’s probably going to “dare” sometimes soon…] Another difference between the two is… Samwell… even though he had a terrible time at home, he’s still just lost a lot of power very, very quickly, coming to where he has. And Giovanni’s gained a lot of power very, very quickly. And they have a completely different mentality. So it’s quite easy to distinguish between the two.
None of us really know Sam’s ultimate fate. What are some of the things that you hope will happen, or will be his direction?
I just hope that he becomes a man with his own identity. As opposed to a man who is constantly comparing himself to other people. I would hope one day people would be comparing themselves favourably to Samwell. At the moment he’s living in the shadow of everybody. He’s inferior to his dad, and then he goes to the Wall, where Alliser Thorne makes him feel inferior. And he feels that he’s inferior to Jon in the scene we had where he says he’s a virgin. And I’m like, “It’s obvious that I’m a virgin, and I don’t believe you are for a second.” So I hope he finds an identity. And he’s comfortable.
Good. I don’t know how much you want to be spoiled with regard to the next few books, but… His travels are… he goes this way, and that way, and that way… and then he goes that way. And then… Well you’re going to see so many different sets if this thing continues.
Yeah, good. Good!
And congratulations on the success. The critical raves. It’s being received almost better than we [the fans] hoped. Have you been reading some of these positive reviews?
Well, yeah. Hard not to, just out of curiosity.
How much do you want? I know some people say that too much cheering can cloud the senses.
It can, yeah. Too much. And a bad review is welcomed as much, or even more so than a good one.
That’s oddly true. People are always telling… well, like Finn Jones… he gets compliments on his looks all the time. And out of the blue someone told him his hair was hideous. And he loved it.
I saw that on Twitter. Finn knows how pretty he is. God, if he doesn’t know…
We all can’t be Loras Tyrell, my friend.
Well if everyone was Finn Jones, then Finn Jones wouldn’t really be all that special. And he is.
We want Finn Jones to stay Finn Jones. He’s a funny dude.
He’s a lovely lad, Finn, yeah. I met him. The first time we met, we’d just finished a read-through. And we were in a green room. [He pause. And then he says, rather slyly… ] I’m sure he won’t mind me telling this.
You should tell. Either way.
I was playing cards with Finn, Sophie, and Maisie.
[That image alone kind of slays…] Playing cards with the kids.
Oh, with the kids, yeah. Sounds about right.
You made off with a couple quid.
Well, no! Believe it or not. I had to go out to answer my phone, leaving two really nice kids. And Finn. Alone with my cards. [Pause…] They rigged my deck while I was using the phone!
Well, you didn’t see who. Initially you might think it’s Finn, I bet. But it could have been Maisie…
But you don’t know. Not for a fact. We know it wasn’t Sophie; she’s an angel.
Yes she is.
I am a known Sansa supporter. So it could not have been Sophie. [Pause…] It was Maisie.
It wasn’t, it was Finn! Don’t try to get Finn out of trouble. [Scoffing…] Loras bloody Tyrell. Deck-rigging!
Hey, the Tyrells and the Tarleys get on well. Highgarden and Horn Hill. Have you found fan expectations to be a little odd? Because we kind of expected it to be great. Was there a little wait-and-see attitude with other people, that you saw, or did you not really hear a lot of the noise on the internet…?
While we were shooting, I tried to stay away from it, I think. I mean, when I first got the part, I thought it would be silly not to do some research, of course, regarding how big it is. But… when you’re shooting it’s a bad idea. Because [expectations] can distract you. Speculation like, “I hope it’s not like this,” or “I hope it’s like that,” that really doesn’t mean much, because the guys in charge [Dave and D.B.] have already written it. They’re not going to change it. And it can really ruin the pace you have in your mind. And it’s only now that people are seeing it that any kind of opinion really counts. Now that they’ve seen it, it’s out there, that’s when fans’ opinions really matters. And they do really matter. And I got these really lovely Tweets, thanking me for taking this part. And I always think, “Thank you so much, for liking this booking. I’m thankful that I’m in this.”
But the process of making it, you couldn’t know at the time…
There were certain days on set, when it felt like a huge team effort. Especially someone at my level. I get to think, I, in a roundabout way, am working with Sean Bean, and Mark Addy, and Lena, and all these great people… and we’re all a team, pulling together to make this show good. Even if you never have a scene with any of these people. It feels like we’re a unit going forward, all with a common goal, and it really feels like an incredibly tight family.
I hope that a lot of the younger actors affiliated with this show… I hope that there’s an appreciation for what they’re being given. Because the writing and the production is so good, someone who is new to television or film might just assume this is how it always is! And in truth you’re really on uncommon ground, being surrounded with so much talent. And even from an acting standpoint, being able to work with who you’re working with. There are so many bad roles out there, so much bad acting.
The worst thing you can see is an actor “being something” onscreen when they know it’s not very good. You see that a lot.
I’ve seen that a lot.
Yeah, you see the actor delivering his lines in a kind of half-apologetic way, and that stops them from immersing themselves in the world, because it’s the actor being somewhere they don’t want to be. And that comes across every single time. And there’s nothing you can do. It’s a completely involuntary thing. You can pretend to smile. But the effect that a smile has on your eyes is completely involuntary. If you’re not happy with the scene, not happy with material, that will come across whether you want it to or not. Luckily we all knew how brilliant it was.
How difficult is the process of finding, of picking good scripts?
It’s tough. A lot of the best film scripts don’t read very well. And some do. The King’s Speech, which is packed with dialogue, has all these great little scenes and situations. I bet that was amazing to read. And the same with Game of Thrones, where sure, you’re getting guys with their heads being hacked off, but there’s also so many lovely little scenes.
Bryan Cogman mentioned in a recent interview with us that the scene he wrote for Jaime and Jory, standing outside the king’s chambers, was actually kind of bland if you just read it straight. But when Nikolaj and Jamie Sives got a hold of it, through their acting skills, through the nuance they have and what they’re able to portray, it’s just so very good.
Lena’s scene with Michelle [Fairley], confessing about the dead child, that’s such a wonderful bit of writing too. And that could be a theatrical monologue. A lot of the scenes could be very theatrical.
I agree, I could see them onstage. Easily. Lena’s scene is great. Cersei… on top of the emotion she’s showing, on top of what she’s saying, you as a viewer know in the back of your mind that only moments before she was clearly worried that Bran would not die. And she still gets you to feel a sort of sympathy, even while in the back of your mind you know it’s mostly an act.
Exactly that, yeah. Fantastic. And Lena didn’t have to play that with any sort of wink to the audience, because you feel like the emotions are genuine and real. She almost fools the audience! Incredible piece of acting.
She did fool the audience! I read multiple message boards that accused her of being out-of-character. Or of the writers “softening” Cersei. Where I don’t think they’re softening at all. I think they’re showing depth.
There are so many wonderful actors. Having Harry [Lloyd] is incredible. Having him do what he does. When Harry and Emilia [Clarke] are together… there’s just something incredibly unsettling. Especially in that first episode, where they first appear. The whole atmosphere… A good actor, when he or she appears onscreen, can completely change the atmosphere.
[Speaking of “unsettling,” FaB mentions the nipple twist they did not include in that opening Viserys / Daenerys scene…]
It’s not as sinister, though, really, I don’t think. Because when somebody actively does something like that, a physical action, it’s not as scary as potential ever is. When somebody has the potential to do something horrific, everybody’s more on-edge if they never… quite… show that.
Just the way he removed her clothes was sinister.
It was. The potential for violence is so much stronger if it’s amorphous. It’s like what Sean Bean said, or Ned’s line rather, the classic line of Ned’s, “I don’t fight in tournaments, because I don’t want a man to know what I can do for real,” there’s much more strength in that than somebody who just loses [his temper].
I am in favor of them giving more dimensions to people like Ned [with his expanded fighting skills], and Cersei, so we can see these different sides. With the show, it’s not just about the book fans, it also about attracting a new audience. Making characters more believable, giving them more depth, that helps our cause. Some people worried there were too many characters to attract a new audience, but according to the new people who love it, they had no problem at all following along. I also think it’s because of the iconic settings. You know where you are when you’re at Castle Black, et cetera.
Of course. There are really strong design elements on the show. That bit between Dany and Viserys, where she strikes back at him and says, “The next time you lay a hand on me is the last time you’ll have hands,” that’s incredible. That’s done in yellows and in browns, heated colours… that’s fire, and the fire in her, and the passion of that moment, on top of the colours we normally see with the Dothraki. And then it cuts to Castle Black in a second and we’re scrubbing tables. Everything’s blue. The colours of those two images, set side by side, you can’t confuse [the areas]. And there’s nothing wrong with having a few different stories. It’s easy to follow different stories if you have a cracking visual motif that gets you right into the setting.
It makes me feel sorry for people who only want to follow one character, or one storyline. I feel like they’re missing out, and partly because they’re so passionate.
But the passion that people have for these stories, these details… it’s incredibly flattering to us. We love it, and we appreciate the fact that most of the people are happy with it. Because the worst thing you can have, with regard to people perceiving your art, is indifference. You’d rather people hate it than just not care. Because quite often the reasons that people hate something, hate it for the same reasons that people love it. It’s all about strength of emotion, strength of opinion. A weak opinion is the worst opinion. Better to have someone say, “I hate it, and I’ll tell you why I hate it.”
It’s true. At Winter-Is-Coming, we get all kinds of mail. And usually around the time that there’s a controversial discussion happening, we get requests to ban this poster, or ban that one, block this, block that. And our view is: If they’re not being criminal about something, or just spamming nonsense, let them have their say.
[The topic switches to preparations for this upcoming season…] You can’t go on diets, right? You’re not allowed to do various things to adjust your body weight. You sort of have to maintain a shape. Casting directors would say don’t fix your teeth, all that.
What with all the stuff he does.
Of course he would. I think he would.
If he loses weight before going on his great trek… then you know, that’s not realistic. You can’t just show up to set having lost fifty pounds.
Yeah. Probably not.
[It’s hard to describe his look other than to say it looks as though he’s considering pulling a weight-loss prank on the producers. There’s a gleam in his eye…]
[FaB asks about hobbies, and John talks about the love of his life… which apparently is not the Manchester City football team, as FaB initially reported. Oh, the infamy. How can I even claim to pull for Arsenal now? It’s like I know nothing!]
[Though that’s a pretty cool name, “Arsenal.” Like, “Who are you?” “I’m Bob. And you?” “Arsenal.” It’s badass. Tragically we never discussed Arsenal football. Or luckily, else I would have flubbed that too…]
My tutor, when I left drama school, said it was very important to maintain friendships outside of drama. When you’ve had a bad audition, you don’t really want to swap stories with another actor who’s just had a bad audition. So where I come from, football is very important.
From where you come from especially. The whole city [Manchester] has great teams. And it’s not that big of a city!
No, it’s not. Yeah, the two football teams we have [Manchester United and Manchester City] are doing very well. And maintaining that [hobby] is important if that was important to you before you’ve enjoyed any kind of success. Me, I’m still living in the same house that I lived in for seventeen years. If that doesn’t remind me who I am, when I go there…
Yeah, nothing will. Your family is certainly not going to treat you like King Actor.
[A sudden faux bitterness…] No, they’re not! They should!
You can come to Winter-Is-Coming for the special treatment.
Well thank you very much.
Sean Bean’s football team…
He was on the board. He had a very, very active role. He’s incredibly passionate about football. When they got relegated, moved down to the lower league, he wasn’t very happy. He spoke his mind, and told the manager under no uncertain terms how unhappy he was with that [situation]. And that’s great! It’s great someone can be so passionate about it. Actors, a lot of the time, and public figures like Sean, who is an incredibly famous man… people in his position don’t often feel comfortable pledging their allegiance. And I think it’s great that he manages to keep that passion and normality in his life. His team—and I hope he will forgive me for saying this—is not an incredibly glamorous team. [FaB note: it’s true, Sheffield United are not a very good team of late.] And it’s amazing that he can remain as loyal to them through all the bad. I admire it.
Sometimes a team just gets in your blood.
With American football… which really has less of a case to be called “football” than soccer does, but I haven’t thought up a better name for it yet… I follow one team, the Rams, who I picked up as a 4th grade child mainly because of their cool horn-design helmets. And I just followed them along throughout my life, through highs and lows, and… more lows. Luckily we can’t get “relegated.” Or we would have. Many times.
European football is a little like American baseball, in which the rich get richer. It’s a league of haves and the have-nots. Probably the closest comparison to Manchester United is the New York Yankees, who just spend crazy money, year after year. And Manchester United… they’re the haves. They have the money, and they have many, many fans outside of the Manchester area. And the New York Yankees, also able to buy the near-guarantee of a playoff appearance every year. But you probably don’t get a lot of people outside the city of Manchester rooting for Manchester City.
Really! I did not know that.
They’ve been taken over by an Arab partnership from Dubai. So quite possibly in the next few years we could get what we call “glory hunting” fans…
Bandwagoners. And that will be a very sad day.
Well then it’s a bragging right to say, “I was there from the start, back when they weren’t so good.”
What is the one skill you have that no one else knows about?
Well. I’m not one to keep quiet about what I can do. Because there’s such a limited amount. I’ve not got any hidden talents. I can can drum.
Nice. So you’re into music.
I love music.
What are you into right now? What songs are you listening to with frequency?
I actually love buying an album. There’s nothing more exciting than buying a new album. And just listening to it in its entirety. I think that’s disappearing a little bit these days, with MP3 downloads where you can pick different songs and disregard the rest. When often you’re not getting the entire story [doing that]. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the band Fleet Foxes?
[FaB of course checked ‘em out when he got back; Fleet Foxes is sort of a Blind Mellon-meets-Simon and Garfunkle vibe; very mellow, but quite catchy.]
They’re an American band, they’re kind of folky. Great harmonies. They’re really, really cool. I just bought their new album [Helplessness Blues, May 2011] without having heard any of the songs. Listened to it on the train on the way up. And it’s just magnificent. I love it. An album is art in and of itself, in terms of the pace of it. The order of the songs is vital. Listening to an album from start to finish is one of my little pleasures. Nothing creates an emotional response in me like music.
That’s interesting. Because you rarely talk about music on Twitter; people sort of think they know you from your Twitter account.
[He seems to consider that…] I do rarely talk about it. True, yeah. Which is strange, because I love it. But if I hear a bit of music, I suppose I don’t want to tell people about it [that way] because that’s not how I found out about it. Finding a piece of music you love is an incredible experience. For me it’s personal.
So you if you weren’t an actor, you might be a musician. A drummer.
Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve the stamina to pull that off full time. It’s good to have some skill. Thankfully, acting seems to be working for me. Some actors, friends of mine from school, they get a bit down if they don’t land something right off. But from my view, there are more characters out there to play than actors to play them. I say, “If nothing comes along for a while, don’t worry. Because out there, there’s a character that only you can play. You can play it better than anybody else. You’ll get it if you persevere.” I was lucky. I came out, and two characters that were ready for me to play were there for me to play.”
I really want to see this Giovanni now, dammit.
I’m sure you will. Tom Fontana will make sure this is seen. He knows what he’s doing. And we only wrapped two weeks ago. So it’s likely not going to be out until autumn.
We get a lot of stuff [in the U.S.] so I can’t see how it won’t somehow find its way.
Yeah. Game of Thrones though, that’s like… a huge slice of Americana now, isn’t it.
Well that’s just a very broad generalization to make about fantasy. Americans have a reputation for doing things just a little bolder than anyone else. And that’s George’s writing style. It’s why he’s incredible. He doesn’t mind breaking all the [genre] rules. He just breaks away and does what he wants.
Yes, he went and wrote something unfilmable.
And look how that went!
It’s a good thing. But as far as it being an “American” story, well… that’s funny being that the cast is so very British.
[Having a bit of fun…] We’re very British, aren’t we!
But these days… aren’t the British sort of the go-to people—or at least the go-to accent—where “fantasy” is concerned? Whereas in the 80’s and 90’s they were the go-to villain.
I think we’re just associated with unpleasantness. Generally. Yeah.
[Insert FaB’s dorkesque laughter.]
Some aspects of unpleasantness are very appealing! But yeah, we do get put into certain types of “categories.” English actors. But it’s kind of changing now. There are a lot of British comedians getting on well in America. Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand…
Oh yeah. I love Gervais. Some people find him too… much? Too biting. Insulting. But I think he’s brilliant. Comedic timing.
Some people had a problem with his act at the Globes. But really they shouldn’t.
Public figures should accept the fact that they’re public figures. And if you’re a public figure, and you transgress, somebody’s going to flag you for it. Just because that person is in the room with you… that doesn’t make it any worse at all. At least you can hear what people are saying.
Right! It’s not behind your back!
We at Winter-is-Coming.net will be sure to insult you to your face if it comes to it.
Well, thank you for that.
Okay. My final question, and this is kind of a personal crusade for me.
Yeah? [One eyebrow WAY up. Like he’s half-expecting FaB to ask him to sign up for a Peace Corps tour in Afghanistan. I think he’s just feigning nervousness though.]
It’s something I ask of everyone.
Ah, now wait a minute. [He looks at the door and makes like he’s about to leave. But he doesn’t. But he looks ready to bolt!]
I am attempting to ban the color indigo from the seven-color spectrum.
[John listens intently. Until finally…]
[FaB is overjoyed…!] YES!
Ban it! I’ll never wear it. What harm could banning it do me? Ban it. And… well, wait, is it just the word? What if you renamed it?
I’m banning it from the seven-color spectrum. It can appear anywhere else.
… Yeah. Alright, yeah. I think we can do without that.
Well, now… see, that was more of a tepid ‘yeah.’
I’m trying to get passionate about this. It’s quite difficult to really get behind this argument. But right now I can’t say there any any more pressing matters on my mind. But then… [thoughtful]… there’s a saying associated with it, right? “Richard Of York…”
[FaB has never heard this, and had to go look it up!] Uh…
[“Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.” Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet.]
We either have to put a different color in beginning with “i” … or change the rhyme itself. [Pause…] I think this is only going to cause more problems than it’s worth.
[FaB’s exasperated sigh sounds like air escaping a leaky tire…] I believe in this crusade, John.
Okay. Who do we speak to about this? Let’s say for now I’m on board. Who are we going to put this to? Who can help us with it?
[Mopey silence from FaB. Who indeed? Liberace is dead…] Not Jack Nicholson. He likes indigo.
Jack Nicholson, I doubt he’s too bothered either way. He seems far too cool. I’m just the least cool man you’ve ever interviewed. That’s why I’m getting seriously behind this.
You’re technically the only man I’ve ever interviewed, [one on one], so you’re also the coolest. And best looking. Most charming…
And the other way around, but thanks for not mentioning.
I just thanked you for not mentioning. And that’s going to stand awhile, that record. Most hideous…
[FaB has a rather forced apologetic look…]
[Without being prompted, John gets right back to the indigo quandary…] The last color could be white. Or black. But those aren’t so much colors as tones, aren’t they? A problem you’re causing, probably without thinking about it, is that by removing something you’re limiting the number of other color combinations. If you just had indigo as a background color, and not in the actual spectrum, if you couldn’t actually see indigo, would you be happy then? [Pause.] I can’t believe we’re talking about this. People are going to unearth this [interview] in a few thousand years and go, “This gives us incredible insight as to the plight of the people of that era.” And as a result, they’re going to stop studying us altogether.
If we put it in a time capsule. Yeah!
Yeah. “Listen to this…”
This and Gervais. Well, alright. I’ll stay in touch regarding who we’ll have to contact. To get it banned. Someone in the fashion industry, no doubt. Tim Gunn.
Get it straight to the White House. You won’t have much argument from there on out.
No, but then FOX News would then actively promote it. Maybe approach Michelle Obama first.
What if you anger her? She could paint the White House indigo.
[Horrified!] The Indigo House! No!
Look what you’ve done.
[FaB ADDENDUM! Because we wanted to wait to post this interview until after HBO aired an episode that actually had Samwell in it again, more than two weeks have passed. FaB sent four extra questions to keep the conversation timely. And you lucky members of House Gatewatch get these four extra questions completely free of charge! See how cool we are? It’s free!]
Your line in “You Win Or You Die,” the one where you ask, “Can you sing a song for me, Pyp?” Do you know if that was a sly wink from the writers, tipping their hats to The Lord of the Rings?
I didn’t know that when we were shooting it, because I had never seen or read The Lord of the Rings. Fantasy was never something that really caught my interest until GoT came my way. A lot of people have been commenting that the Jon/Sam relationship is a little like the Frodo/Samwise dynamic in LOTR, but I’m not familiar with it enough to really be able to understand the reference. And I think that shows how well the reference about the song was planted into the show. People who will understand it get it immediately, but people who don’t don’t feel excluded because it is done so subtly they aren’t even aware that a reference has passed them by. So, no to be honest I didn’t know that. I think if I did know I might have played it too much. Its best that its a writers reference and not an actors reference.
Pyp gets annoyed when Sam asks him to sing, and he immediately leaves. And there’s a certain way Sam asks the question, sort of innocently, and also a look he gets right after Pyp leaves that makes the viewer think, “Perhaps he did that on purpose in order to speak to Jon alone.” In your mind was that the case?
I think there was a little bit of that, yeah. In episode 7 I wanted to try and get Samwell’s intellegence over a bit more. Now that he is finding his place in the Night’s Watch, I wanted to start portraying the more positive aspects of his character. He knows what to say to have the right effect, and I think he’s quite clever with his language and the way he uses it to influence people. That scene has lots of examples of that. There’s a bit where he’s talking to Jon whilst Mormont is giving his speech. The bit about “There’s honour being a steward,” and “Not much really, but there’s food.” After that line when Jon starts to laugh, there is a little second glance I give before I go back to listening, which is essentially, ‘Right, he’s cheered up a bit. That’s my job done. And if he’s happy, I’m happy’. And, yeah in the little exchange with Pyp, Sam wants him out so that he can have this moment. He knows what to say to bring the best and worst out of people. Pyp storms off, and there is a look Sam gives after him, as if to say, ‘He’s sulking, I can deal with him later, but now I’m going to concentrate on this.’
Your line, “I always wanted to be a wizard,” got a HUGE response. It’s being quoted all over the place. I found it very humorous, and I like that they’re sort of using your own natural delivery (it’s like “apologetic comedy” if I have to try and pin it down with a descriptive) to give Sam an added dimension. Would that qualify as your favourite line thus far, or do you have another?
That was a nice line. I loved it and thought about how I was going to do it for a long time. It shows the difference between these two characters. It shows Jon’s ambition, a real ambition, to be a man. He’s been in a masculine atmosphere all his life, learning to fire arrows and sword fight and is desperate to be a fighter, and strapping, and dashing, and manly. To prove himself as a worthwhile person to shed the stigma of being a bastard. Sam, on the other hand, has been left alone to fantasize and wrap himself up in escapism and his own world. I think he says that to Jon as a genuine trading of information. You wanted to be that, I wanted to be this. But it’s also a line about: you can’t always get what you want. Just because you always wanted to be it doesn’t mean it’s your right. I love that line. There’s some others I like too. “Didn’t know where to put it,” being the main other one. But, as an actor, you can do so much with all the lines if you choose to. Its a treat.
We’ve just begun to discover there are Sam/Jon ‘shippers (relationship wishers) out there, and it may not be long before someone comes out with some full-on Kirk/Spock slashfic fantasy stories (which may horrify George R.R. Martin even more since he hates fanfiction). Where do you come out on this? Is it flattering or freaky?
I think that any indication that there are people out there who have connected with something that you’re doing is always very, very welcome. Once we’ve shot the scene and put it out there, it’s totally out of our hands, and if people want to take it further and think about it enough that they put extra work into their liking of it, then that’s great. I’m so glad that people like that relationship. It is essential that it comes across how important their friendship is to both of them. I wanted it to feel warm when they’re together. Comfortable to watch and settle into. And the thought (as is proved in the scene we’ve discussed) if they have each other, then chances are they’re going to be alright. George has a right to dislike fan fiction, I suppose, because he works so hard to create his work and people take what he’s created and take it upon themselves to predict the motivations and actions of his characters. If something is not quite right, then it must irk him because he knows the characters so well. I won’t get involved with any fan fiction or anything, but while it’s going on I’m just pleased that we made an impression with people.
Glad you feel that way! Thanks for the interview, John!
Fire And Blood!
[ADDENDUM: John’s team is indeed Manchester United, not Manchester City. Good catch, Steve The Pirate! Figures FaB would muff that part. Though listening back to the replay, he never actually says it! D’oh!]