Featured Game of Thrones Interview John Bradley Samwell Tarly

John Bradley previews Samwell Tarly’s dysfunctional family reunion

In a season where we’ve been bombarded with so many storylines converging so quickly, there are still characters that we haven’t yet seen (Bronn), or that we’ve only seen very briefly (Sam and Gilly). John Bradley, who plays Sam, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about what we can expect from this Sunday’s episode, “Blood of my Blood,” when Sam will be reunited with his extremely dysfunctional family.

He’s feeling quite good about himself. He’s not only on the way to take Gilly and the baby to a place of safety, but also a place where he can achieve his life’s ambition as well. He thought it would never happen. He thought it would be impossible.

Sam may be feeling confident now, but that’s because he hasn’t felt the withering scowl of his spiteful father in a while. Sam came to the Night’s Watch because he father gave him one option: take the black, or suffer a “hunting accident” that would clear the way for his younger and more traditionally masculine brother to inherit the family lands, titles, and Valyrian steel sword.

James Faulkner

James Faulkner as Randyll Tarly

Bradley talks further about what he calls his “monster” of a father, Randyll Tarly, who will be played by James Faulkner, and the emotional damage that growing up in House Tarly inflicted on the bookish Samwell.

Ever since you first saw him, [Sam] comes from this very sincere and heartfelt maternal love, and then there’s this monster. You can see why he’s so damaged. His emotional life has been pulled in so many different directions. He’s so incredibly confused.

Now that Sam has served the Night’s Watch for a few years, and is one of only three people on the show to have slain a White Walker, perhaps he may feel confident enough to stand up to his menacing father. Bradley addressed that question:

You wonder if Sam has changed enough that he can go in with a completely different attitude and stand up to his father and look him in the eye and say, ‘You have to accept me now. You have to, because I’ve achieved all of this.’ Or is the presence of his father so completely part of his psyche that when he gets in that situation, he emotionally regresses back into the broken man that used to be there?

Here’s hoping Sam can dig deep and find the strength to face his fears, but can he do it when it really counts, when his father and younger brother are facing him? Perhaps with Gilly at his side he will find that extra reservoir of courage he needs to finally overcome the fear of his father…I mean, his name isn’t Sam the Slayer for nothing.

Hannah Murray as Gilly

Hannah Murray as Gilly

Actress Hannah Murray, who plays Gilly, also talked to THR. She discussed how the wildling girl from Craster’s Keep is now seeing the wide world for the first time.

She’s so happy. She’s so thrilled. It’s so lovely to play somebody who is so excited about everything she experiences. Everything is new to her. Her entire world just expands and expands. She was pretty thrilled about the Castle Black kitchen, for one. This adventure, going south for her, it’s like going to a fantasy land. It’s like a fairy tale, really. The fact that she gets to go, and it’s real? She’s blown away by it.

Hopefully, Sam and Gilly won’t stay too long at Horn Hill, House Tarly’s ancestral home. And with the White Walkers preparing to invade up north, perhaps Sam can convince his father that the family’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, can be used in the wars to come.

Remember, Sam has insider knowledge that Valyrian steel can kill White Walkers, and if he can get his father to help convince the other houses of Westeros in possession of such swords to unite under one cause, it may help sway the final battle for the living. We’ll find out more this Sunday night.


  • I doubt Randyll will believe him… Giving Sam the family sword would be huge, but I don’t see that happening.

  • I seriously doubt that Sam’s father will listen to or believe anything he says about wight walkers

  • I also think his Dad is old school and will think Sam broke his vows by having a girlfriend and baby in tow. He won’t believe the I promise he is not mine. But, I do believe Sam might just stand up to him. I know they cast Sam’s brother and sister so we get to meet them also.

  • Sam doesn’t want the sword. He’ll want his father to use the sword to convince Westeros Lords about what’s coming and what can defeat the WWs. He killed the WW cos he was a threatening Gilly and the baby. He needs to overcome years of mental torture at the hands of his father and brother which made him feel worthless, and in a warrior culture, a coward. Gilly needs to support him because she only sees Sam who saved her which hopefully will give him the strength to stand his ground.

  • I don’t know… Sam does NOT look fearful of his father while sitting at the dinner table. I could be wrong, but, it seems like there is a cold sternness in Sam’s eyes that his father probably didn’t expect to see. Sam has been through a lot. He’s basically been through the war. Sam has killed and watched others be killed. I can’t imagine his father still frightens him.

  • I still think that Sam’s story line will be a snooze fest, unless he uncovers something groundbreaking like Robb’s will or the whereabouts of hidden dragon glass( if there are any)

  • I am hoping that we see another advancement in Sam’s personal arc. Too bad he doesn’t get a title like Dany – Samwell Tarley, stalwart friend, caring person, white walker killer, rescuer of the vulnerable, political operative, compulsive reader.

  • I am wondering if Jon Snow makes it to Horn Hill while Sam and Gill are still there.

  • I also hope Sam stands up to his father. He may not initially until when Randall starts bad mouthing Gilly, Jon or the Nights Watch he will. The still of the father that was released IMO shows a man that has been surprised by something, taken aback, and I think it was Sam standing up to him that did it.

  • If Sam tells his father that the baby is his the baby will be killed by his father. Put it on the board. Randyl wants the younger son to inherit his titles. That was the entire reason that Sam was sent away. A son of Sam’s could screw that up.

  • For the longest time Sam has been useless to everyone. And we all know for a fact that GRRM wouldnt create a character to be of no use. I have this theory that Sam’s purpose in the story is he will be the one to teach Gendry (another main character on the show) how to spellforge Valyrian Steel swords again, probably learn how to do it from the libraries/maesters in old town. Or with Bran’s time travelling ability they can go back in time before the Doom of Valyria to check out how the swords were done. Gendry, as talented swordsmith he is, will be dismantling the Iron Throne (which was forged by Balerion the Black Dread) to create hundreds of Valyrian Steel swords for the Long Night.

  • Sam’s brother Dickon is the wildcard in this reunion. He is the heir to Heartsbane and of an age to crave adventure. My guess is that Randyll will scoff at Gilly’s tales of Sam the Slayer and Sam’s exhortations that Valyrian steel is desperately needed up North. But Dickon will believe them and want to be a hero too. HE will snatch the sword and head for the Wall. Randyll will be furious, but then Lady Olenna will summon him to lead her troops to King’s Landing. Then Sam will be stuck with the hard choice of staying at Horn Hill to protect the womenfolk, or heading for Oldtown to fulfill his mission at the Citadel.