John Bradley discusses the Jorah surgery scene and Sam’s new attitude


In “Stormborn,” Samwell Tarly defied his superiors, formed a new bond, and tested how many audience members could sit through a scene where he cuts rotted flesh away from Jorah Mormont’s body without getting queasy. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, actor John Bradley revealed that he couldn’t have been happier with how the scene turned out.

“I was very, very happy,” he said of when he first read the scene. “I knew it would be another memorable moment, and a visceral moment, as you say — something that people are going to have a strong emotional connection to, and something people would be talking about. I was happy to be involved in something that was essential not just to my plot but also to Jorah’s storyline and how it impacts the Daenerys story. It was nice to feel like a part of that and the wider landscape and story.”

"I was really happy for Sam as well. He’s taking matters into his own hands. He’s being brave. He’s defying authority. That montage you saw with him last week was very sad, because he feels like he’s wasting time and he’s not being put to good use and he feels like he’s betraying his promise to Jon, all of these things. He’s not having a positive effect on things. Then he had that dragonglass moment at the end of the first episode, and now he has another moment here where he can save somebody’s life."

Sam’s displayed his newfound sense of confidence last week, too, when he snuck into the restricted section of the Citadel library to find information about Dragonglass. It’s hard to imagine the Sam of season 1 being so brazen, but the Sam of season 7 is a different story.

But what’s behind the change? According to Bradley, some of it can be traced back to the scene at Horn Hill in season 6, when Sam defied his father and stole Heartsbane, the Tarly family’s ancestral Valyrian steel sword. “There is a sense of business being finished for Sam,” Bradley said. “He had to go home and touch base with his former self in order to appreciate just how far removed he is from that now. The taking of the sword was the ultimate satisfaction for him. Now he feels worthy of being head of that family and possessing the sword, even if nobody else agrees. It’s a great moment of self-belief and self-affirmation.”

"So I don’t think he cares anymore. He knows what he is and he knows that Gilly knows what he is, and now he has this chance to be at the Citadel and make all of these differences and do this wonderful work. It’s less of a presence in the back of his mind now. He’s been able to clear out all of that emotional baggage…You can even see it in the way that he walks now. He doesn’t shuffle around anymore. He holds himself with purpose."

Summing Bradley said that Sam is “no longer willing to be shat on by life. He’s going into situations and taking control and doing things only because they’re the right thing to do. I love that progression for him this season.” Rock on, Sam.

We saw that sense of purpose at work when Sam walked into Jorah’s room and took charge of the situation. “He tells Ser Jorah what to do. ‘Drink that, bite on that, take off your shirt.'” And of course, Sam takes especial care with Jorah because Sam feels that he “owes a debt to Lord Commander Mormont, Jorah’s father. “There was something really beautiful about putting these two characters together. It was another one of the ways where the show can link two characters who you think have nothing in common, but it turns out they do and it’s really lovely.”

As for the actual production of the scene, it was reportedly intense. As you could imagine, it took some doing to get actor Iain Glen covered in all that greyscale — Glen had to get up at 3:00 a.m. on the day of the shoots and spend hours in a makeup chair. “When I was peeling sections of that off, I was basically peeling the plastic latex prosthetic off of Iain’s actual body,” Bradley said. “It was the same as pulling away a prosthetic. It was a very, very big technical job for the prosthetics department. There were about five or six guys on set that day that you can’t see but were just out of the camera line, there with pumps and buckets of pus.”

"Mark Mylod, our director, would count down from three, and when we reached one, I would open up the tiny little hole in the prosthetic, and at that exact moment, the guy with the pus pump let it go and it squirted out of the hole."

Man, their jobs are strange.

Next: Game of Thrones cinematographer teases the 'different' penultimate episode of season 7

To read more about Bradley’s experiences, head to The Hollywood Reporter.

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