Once more unto the breach, dear friends! This, the third of four roundtable interviews, took place on Tuesday the 19th of March, 2013, at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, immediately on the heels of the interview we had just conducted with Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead-Wright.
As ever I was joined by Terri Schwartz of Zap2it, as well as 3 other reporters (one being the infamous television binge-watching Paulette from XFinity TV).
They enter; Kit looks casual in black (it was always his color), his very-recognizable Jon Snow hair pushed back away from his face, a three-day scruff on his cheeks. Despite his insistence that he is a shy guy, he’s really quite sociable once you get him talking. Kit has a quiet confidence that comes with being young and talented, but he’s pretty damned humble and isn’t at his most comfortable when receiving praise. But really: a lovely guy. He is in a rather good mood today, and his brown eyes are lively.
John is the John I remember from our first interview. When he enters I tell him he looks great, and he agrees that he does. (As I said: John is John.) I don’t ask him if he’s dropped weight, but to the naked eye it appears so (the result of weeks of running from White Walkers one supposes); he looks more robust and moves quicker than the Samwell Tarly we all know… though of course Sam is a character, and (to the uninitiated) there’s quite a difference between John Bradley and the character he plays. Still, the humor is all John, and he mixes that in liberally with the usual thoughtful musings he offers. As ever he does a lot of expressive things with his eyes when he talks.
Rose is quiet at first too, and her hands fiddle a lot, either with each other or with a thick, dark-stoned ring on her finger. She’s dressed in a simple sleeveless cotton blouse, her dark red hair a wild tumble about her shoulders.
She has an equally wild, lovely array of freckles down her arms and hands. When questions aren’t directed at her, she often glances down at whatever is in hand (water bottles usually), but springs to life when a question is tossed her way. She laughs when surprised (or amused) so she ends up laughing a lot. You can tell this whole media circus thing is still a bit new to her; she sometimes doesn’t seem to know what to make of all the hubbub.
You get the sense that they’re all at least slightly tired, especially after last night’s premiere and after party. Rose seems the most withdrawn, but she springs to life whenever answering anything, and loves being descriptive. Kit is cheerfully game for any question, and John is… well, like I said, John is John. And man, I love that dude.
I love all these people! This is a Game of Thrones fan’s dream date: Kit, John, and Rose, all at one table. And no, as with all the previous interviews today, I didn’t once mention indigo.
John: Hello, mate.
FaBio does not restrain himself very well, and is on his feet for a lovely John Bradley hug. A few of the interviewers look upon me as though I am presumptuous! But I do not care. Marriage proposals will come at the end of the interview.
FaB: How’s it going? I haven’t seen you in two years, man. You look great!
John: Hey. Yeah, I do. Feeling great! Thank you. How are you?
More general greetings are parsed about. Terri from Zap2it says to Kit, “We heard the Iron Throne story from last week. Gwen spilled the beans about your bet.”
Kit: I bet David Benioff that I would [eventually] be on the Iron Throne, and he [pointed at the life-sized throne replica] and said, “Right now. Five dollars.” And I said, “That’s way too little.”
Terri: She then gave away the end of the entire series to us, which is that Jon and Brienne just rule all of Westeros.
FaB: Because there is photographic evidence of her sitting on your lap on the Iron Throne.
Kit: Yeah, we were giving away a spoiler right there. We also had passionate sex. On the throne.
Terri: That’s the entire eighth season.
Annnnd Paulette from Xfinity TV does her Paulette thing, getting straight to it, asking “So can you tease us with anything, something about your character for the season?”
A brief silence follows.
Kit: Yes. I mean, without spoiling anything. Jon is playing a spy, essentially, and is trying to find out where his loyalties lie. And that becomes a bit blurred, because we don’t know whether he’s going to stray to the wildlings, because he made a stupid mistake when he was younger, taking this vow, and [he asks himself] was that a bad call? And that’s the story with Jon this season: finding out where his heart lies.
Rose: For Ygritte I feel that this season we get an insight into her kind of toughness and brutality, and how that’s all breaking down, and [also] seeing a softer side of her. And the relationship between herself and Jon Snow continuing, and developing throughout.
John: I think this is the season where certain events happen to Sam, and certain events have already happened. Where he’s tired of being kicked around and being affected by the world, and this is the season where he wants to start affecting things. And being active instead of being passively smashed about the place by fate and by bad luck and by people who don’t appreciate him for what he is. And this is the season where he decides to take control of his life a little bit.
Rose: Yes, she does get a bow and arrow. I didn’t even know there was archery last night! I spent the whole evening at the back, and didn’t even kind of wander around, which I’m rather gutted about.
Terri: Do you still have the archery skills that you used?
Rose: I have!
Kit: [with faux blandness] She loves telling this story.
Rose: Sorry! [she's clearly not sorry] Can we have Kit tell you this story? He loves this story.
Kit: Yes. So Rose was doing her practice with a bow and arrow—
Rose: First time ever.
Kit: First time ever. And she notched an arrow, got it in the bullseye. [pause] Whatever.
Kit’s droll take is getting a fair amount of laughs. Rose is swinging in her seat, clearly enjoying this.
Kit: And she got another one and split it down the middle. [blandly] SUCH a good story.
Rose: I did! Yes!
FaB: There’s a picture of Merida going, “I can split an arrow.” And then down below there’s a picture of you going, “That’s cute.”
Rose LOVES this. Her laugh is like the Laugh Of The North!
FaB: And someone commented, “SHE IS MERIDA! CAST ROSE IN THE REAL-LIFE VERSION!”
Rose: I am better than her in the movie.
Kit is rolling his eyes dramatically. Much like the Nikolaj/Gwendoline dynamic, these two just love to have a go at one another. It’s really no wonder their chemistry is pretty special.
Rose: But she does split an arrow in the movie. That’s cool.
Terri: You’re now better than a Disney princess.
Rose: Brilliant. That’s made my day. Thank you.
Terri: Are there any other badass scenes coming up for your characters?
Rose: There’s a bit of climbing.
Kit: There’s a bit of climbing.
Rose: [a knowing look; her eyes seem to dance merrily] A bit of climbing.
FaB: Did you have to train for that? Like rock walls and stuff?
Kit: We did, yeah.
Rose: Yeah, rock walls. And then it kind of went from that to an ice wall as well.
Kit: There’s some brilliant scenes this season for our part of the story, and as far as action-packed ones…
Terri: Just cool scenes, yeah.
Rose: It’s a tough one.
Kit: I get some sword play.
Terri: Could you beat [Rose] in a sword fight?
Kit: Psssht. [Translation: Clearly.]
Kit: You could beat me with a bow and arrow though.
Terri: What about Sam though? He gets to come into his own a little bit.
John: Yeah. I think that through Sam’s bookishness, and his curiosity about the world, with his position within the [Castle Black] library, I think he’s really been academic up until now. But I think his knowledge of certain minerals, and certain objects and what they can do comes into great practical use this year. And very dramatically, for the good of everybody.
Ladies and gentlemen: “Sam the Slayer” proof, I do believe! All the reporters grin happily.
Terri: We got to see the premiere last night, and Sam sort of… starts at a low point?
John: Yeah. As low as you can get, yeah.
Terri: This is his first season without Jon. Does he get a nice arc because of that?
John: Yeah, I think that Jon has shown to Sam just how much one person can change another person’s life. Jon changed Sam’s life so dramatically in the space of one episode, from being paralyzed by fear into having a best friend. And I think he now knows there are certain people in the world who need him just as much, if not more than Sam needed Jon. And I think he now knows the power of bravery and personality, and how much that can save somebody’s life.
FaB: We have some questions from readers over at Winter-is-Coming. And I got a lot of questions about Sam and Gilly. There are a lot of Sam/Gilly shippers out there, so…
FaB: What was it like working with Hannah Murray, first of all, and what are your hopes for Sam and Gilly’s future?
John: Well first of all, Hannah’s really great. There’s something about her big brown eyes that you just can’t… [rather lovingly!] When you’re acting with her, it’s very easy to get absorbed into what she’s doing. There’s nothing better that an actor can do for another actor than listen. It sounds like a truism, but so many actors, you find, don’t listen. [he grins and looks at Kit] And this man listens incredibly well.
Kit is now looking at John adoringly. It’s slightly over-the-top. Everyone’s cracking up.
Kit: What was that again?
FaB: I was going to say it’s just because he’s deaf. It’s not that he’s listening.
John: No, he does listen incredibly well! [shooting Kit a "behave!" look] And it’s nice when you can feel people performing back at you, even when they’re not necessarily in the shot. And I’ve been incredibly lucky. I know that it might not last forever, and it might get to be like a horror show at one point, but look… the two greatest relationships I’ve had thus far onscreen [with Jon Snow and Gilly] have been just incredible.
FaB: And what do you hope happens with Sam and Gilly? Any high hopes? Not the throne, hopefully.
John: No no no no. [he laughs] I just hope that they raise a functional child!
His pleading look gets a lot of laughs.
John: I think there’s so many dysfunctional relationships in families, I think that’s what this show is based on. In fact, the more I think on it, that’s entirely what this story’s based on: dysfunctional family relationships.
Rose murmurs her agreement.
John: God, it really is, isn’t it! [epiphany!] And to get—
FaB: You kind of have such a low bar… it can only go up.
John: If this baby turns up at the wall sometime, then Sam is going down his father’s route. I just think, genuinely, loving relationships between families are rather hard to come across in this [show]. I just think it would be so sweet for those two to just… raise the child as best they can. I mean these are simple things. Sam doesn’t want the throne. Sam doesn’t want to become King of Westeros. He just wants a little bit of love, and a little bit of happiness in his life. And nobody can deny him that, surely.
John’s empathy for Sam is really wonderful. I swear, some of the reporters look misty-eyed. John Bradley is just a fantastic person.
FaB: Hopefully not. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Terri: There was a lot of talk about how this season was shot in Iceland, and how scenes were shot showcasing the beautiful landscape. Can you talk a little bit about how shooting on location informed your portrayals of your characters?
Rose: I always found it quite tricky, shooting on location, because you’re always sort of… trudging through the snow. And it’s deep! I mean it’s several inches. But I think that definitely informs your body language in the way that you walk, and you have to approach it like, “Well, this is her territory, this is her home, and she can handle whatever it throws at her.” So there was that element of trying to pull it off slickly, smoothly, and trying hard not to… fall down in the snow.
She kind of winces, basically telling us that she was not always successful in “not falling down,” and she gets a few pitying chuckles from us all.
Rose: But no, I’ve said it so many times, it was fabulous actually just to go back there in the first place. [to Kit] You had a bit of trickiness, because of your ankle.
Kit: Yeah. I mean by the time I got out there twice, the ankle was a little better. But yeah, there was nothing quite like it. Having two feet of snow to walk through.
Terri: Maybe season 4 you will finally be able to stop talking about your ankle.
Kit: [a rueful laugh] Yeah.
John: It was traumatic for me! Because that whole first sequence, that pre-credit thing… [season 3's first episode opens right where season 2 left off: with Sam in a blizzard] … that was shot on one day. And it was a day of running, of running through five-foot snow, and it was clearly exhausting. And I got to the end of it… and because of the light you can only shoot for six hours in Iceland…
FaB: Thank god.
John: Right? But after six hours, I was exhausted. And I was thinking, “Sam’s been running for about twelve? So Sam is fitter than me.”
Huge laughs. John’s just shaking his head quite sadly.
John: A bad moment, that.
Terri: Kind of going off of that, there are four locations Game of Thrones shoots on. If you guys weren’t shooting in Iceland, where would you guys prefer to shoot?
Rose: Dubrovnik. [after some knowing chuckles] Yeah, I’ve never been to Croatia. It looks wonderful. And the sun and the sea… you can’t go wrong.
Kit: Yeah, they’ve got it good in Dubrovnik.
John: That’s the new motto for the tourism board: “They’ve got it good in Dubrovnik.”
Kit: Yeah, but Morocco’s way too hot and Iceland’s way too cold, so…
John: With me being such a home-bird, I think Belfast would be fine. You could get a subway, and the English papers. Fine by me.
FaB: So Rose… I was a huge fan of Downton Abbey. So of course I was extremely excited when you were cast to play Ygritte. I have a quick scenario for you: Gwen has returned to Downton (for whatever reason), and she’s gazing into a mirror. While worlds away, Ygritte is looking at a reflection of herself in a pool of water.
Rose: [intrigued and/or amused] Right!
FaB: Jon Snow walks by Ygritte, slaps her on the arse, and she falls in the water, accidentally falling through the mirror and trading places with Gwen.
Rose: [rubbing her hands together] Okay! This is a good story. Yeah.
Rose: Lady Mary would not like that, would she!
FaB: No, Lady Mary would not! What do you think would happen?
Rose: Okay. Well. I think Jon Snow would be incredibly bored by Gwen. And I think Gwen would be nattering on to him about her typewriter, and also being shit scared. And she’d probably die within three hours of being north of the Wall. So poor old Gwen.
FaB: Poor old Gwen.
Everyone is just dying. Rose’s face, pitying poor old Gwen, and then she gives us a “well that’s life” sort of shrug!
Rose: Poor old Gwen. She wouldn’t survive very long at all. Whereas with Ygritte being in Downton Abbey… [she's trying to keep from cracking up and failing] Um… I don’t know! She’d probably go around shooting arrows. She might find and shoot the dog.
FaB: Poor Thomas.
Rose: Poor Thomas! Or she might shoot Thomas! Exactly. Take him out. [evil twinkle in her eye] That would be quite fun. I feel sorry for both parties.
Paulette launches into her usual “what television shows to do binge-watch and what do you eat when you binge-watch” question…
Kit: Not on purpose. I once had an awful hangover which segued into the flu. And I watched The Sopranos… pretty much the whole of it. So I didn’t do it to have fun with my mates, I just did it and watched The Sopranos.
Rose: I did it with 24.
Paulette: Any particular season, or multiple seasons?
Rose: Season 5. And it was… Yeah, there’s only so many hours you can sit on the sofa before your bum goes numb, and you’re like, “I’ve got to do something with my life!” But… I think I was there for a good kind of… six hours? And I just ate. It’s what you’ve got to do. Eat your way through.
Paulette: Anything specific?
Rose: Crisps! Giant tub of crisps… [wistfully] Very happy when that happens.
John: I think because there’s something about my attention span, I like things to be sort of compartmentalized. So the only thing I’ve done that with is something with like… Curb Your Enthusiasm, where each episode is like 23 minutes long and a stand-alone story. And I think that if I have a series of ten episodes which are stand alone and don’t bleed into one another, I can rocket through them much more quickly than one long narrative. But I’ve watched I think six episodes. But it’s shorter than 24 and Sopranos, but I feel like I can focus more on stand-alone 23-minute acts than I can a 24-hour long series. And yeah. Food’s quite good with that.
Terri asks that since food is such a big part of Westeros, and a lot of people like to prepare feasts tied into watching the series, is there any food from Westeros that they’d like to try?
John: [to Kit] That stuff that Mark [Stanley, who plays Grenn] was eating at Castle Black…
Kit: There was a brilliant bit where they’d gotten these bowls of gruel or something, right? And Mark and Joe [Altin, who plays Pyp] were going to eat it. But I just chose to eat the bread, luckily, because that was horrible enough. But for the first take they both went…
Kit mimes scooping a huge spoonful of gruel into his mouth… and then slowly realizing it tastes like utter shit.
Kit: And they realized with that first bite that what they’d eaten was possibly inedible. But because of continuity they had to keep going. I was nearly crying with laughter, watching them do it.
Most of us are practically crying with laughter too. He has such wonderful glee that it tasted so bad for them. Poor lads. And I know Josef Altin a little from Twitter—I can imagine he wouldn’t mind giving Kit a nice bit of payback once Jon gets back to Castle Black. Whenever that might be.
Kit: So… god, yeah. [He finally answers the question:] Not that.
John: That is one thing about this show. It’s mainly about sex, violence… and food.
Rose: Best three things.
John: Best three things!
Terri: And dysfunctional families.
John: And dysfunctional families. It’s all of humanity at its very… base level. I mean, in things like Star Trek you never saw them eat, or…
Rose: Or in 24.
John: Oh, yeah. So the thing is, if you watch Star Trek and they’re not eating, or not going to the toilet, you feel separated. And this show deals so firmly in the base elements of life. And I think that’s what draws people to it.
Paulette: In George’s books, too, he describes the most epic feasts.
FaB: He loves food.
Kit: [rather longingly] We wish we could do the books justice with feasts.
FaB: Okay, I have more questions from our readers. For Kit, here are three quick ones from Vanny D: Who would win in a fight, Jon Snow vs. Tormund?
Kit: That would be a tough one, actually, and I don’t think I’d want to find out. I’s like to say Jon. I think Jon.
FaB: I’d like to say they’d both be in a lot of pain. What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?
Kit: Old Fashions.
Kit: I love Bjork.
Kit: Yeah, I was once in a restaurant in Iceland and she sat nearby. I really geeked out.
FaB: Vanny is going to love your answers, thank you.
Kit: Thank you, Vanny.
One of the reporters asks Kit if he introduced himself to Bjork…
Kit: No. No. I’m not really good at that. Introducing myself to people.
Terri: So Rose, I heard you get a lot of requests from fans regarding “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Rose: [chuckling] Yes.
Terri: Did you know how significant that was to the Game of Thrones fandom going in, and did you try it out different ways to make it work…?
Rose: In the mirror. Yeah. “How can I make this sound as authentic as possible?” Reading the books, that’s when I first kind of hit upon that fact that, yeah, this is—and we talked about it last night, actually—like this is the “catchphrase.” Which doesn’t really have a nice ring to it. But David and Dan are geniuses, and they pepper it very intelligently so that it doesn’t become nagging, doesn’t become irritating to hear the whole time. I like to think that—though I think Kit has a different [thought] on that. But I still wasn’t quite aware how loved that particular catchphrase is.
Terri mentions an Entertainment Weekly article in which a waitress delivered the line to Rose…
Rose: Oh! That was really awful. That was a rather stressful eight minutes of my life. I was having lunch with a girlfriend back home, and a waitress came over—lovely lady—and she came over and I was mulling over what I wanted to eat. And just by the bye, I was kind of like, “I don’t know what I want.” And she goes, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” And I was like, “Haa….” And we all kind of laughed it off, and chuckled, and then she asked me to do it. And I don’t know, I don’t like being put on the spot like that, and I get all sort of… clammy, and everything. So I then said, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” But I said it in my accent. And her face! It fell! She was absolutely gutted. And she didn’t try to cover it up. And she genuinely looked me in the eye, and said, “That’s not it.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many reporters all go “Aww” while laughing at the same time in unison.
Rose: “That’s not it.” And me being the kind of fool that I am, I was like, [rushed] “Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me doing it again for you.” And then I put on the accent, and said it in the Northern dialect. And she… kind of just [said] “Eh…” and walked off. I was like, “Oh my god. That was the most stressful.” And then it sort of ruined our lunch, me and my friend—we didn’t speak of anything else other than how rude she was.
Terri asks Kit if he’s had any awkward encounters with fans…
Kit: Yes. It’s always funny when you’re with a friend who hasn’t seen the show. Someone in the street comes up to you and goes, “You know nothing, you bastard!” And my friends are going, “Are you gonna settle for that??” And me I just go, “Thank you for watching, thank you very much.”
FaB: Rose, I have some fan questions to wrap this up. First, one remarked that you looked stunning in [last night's] green dress. Who did it? “Who were you wearing?”
Rose: Thank you! That was Issa.
FaB: Issa! Nice. Well that was gorgeous. Good dress.
Rose: [QUITE pleased] Thank you very much!
FaB: Take this one with a grain of salt: Callum Bryant in Bristol asks: Will you marry me?
Rose: Ahh-haaa! [she's cackling]
FaB: By “me” I don’t think he means ME. I’m married. I think he means will you marry him.
John: [butting in] No, Callum, I won’t.
John shakes his head and rolls his eyes, clearly accustomed to the question being posed to him. That kills, of course. John Bradley has genius comic timing.
FaB: There you have it, Callum.
John: Certainly not, Callum. Certainly not.
FaB: John’s not having any of it.
Annnnd Rose is rescued by the appearance of the next pair of interviewees! She seems a bit relieved she doesn’t have to answer a marriage proposal!
(But not so much that she wouldn’t pause for a picture with yours truly.)
Sorry, Callum. Maybe next time.