Curtain Call: James Faulkner


This week, we bid a fiery farewell to a serious contender for the “Worst Dad in Westeros” award: Randyll Tarly, Sam’s father.

Over the course of the series, we heard more about Randyll than we saw of him. We got our first impression of him through a young Samwell Tarly shortly after he came through the gates of Castle Black. While Sam was growing up, Randyll didn’t like that his first-born son enjoyed reading more than “manly” things like hunting and fighting. So, on Sam’s eighteenth birthday, Randyll took his son aside and told him that he had to forsake his inheritance and take the black, or else be killed “accidentally.”

It was then that we knew Randyll Tarly was not a good man.

While on his way to Oldtown with Gilly and Little Sam in season 6, Sam stops by his family home, where we get another helping of just how unpleasant Randyll can be. He berates Sam at dinner, telling him that the Night’s Watch had failed to make a man of him. When Gilly lets slip that she’s a wildling, Sam’s father reveals a deep-seated prejudice, and banishes Sam from Horn Hill.

So his home life is fraught. It’s not until season 7 that we see Randyll for what he really is: a soldier. True to his prejudices, he breaks faith with House Tyrell and joins the Lannisters after considering that Daenerys Targaryen, whom House Tyrell has pledged itself to, is bringing a foreign army to Westeros. Randyll fights alongside the Lannisters at the Loot Train Attack, where he is badly defeated. After the battle is over, Daenerys executed him with dragonfire alongside Sam’s hotter younger brother Dickon after the both of them refuse to bend the knee to her.

Macall B. Polay – HBO

While Randyll was a man of many, many faults, he faced death bravely. He was mostly a bad guy, and Faulkner played up his darker recesses to perfection, but he also allowed Randyll some vulnerability, as when Randyll tried to discourage Dickon from following him into the grave. It was a small role, but Faulkner gave it gravitas.

Faulkner himself is an industry veteran with roles in television, movies and videogames. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has a penchant for playing villains, from Stapleton in The Hounds of the Baskervilles to T.O.M. in The Turing Test and even Severus Snape in the videogame version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. He’s also had roles in movies like Murder on the Orient Express, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Underworld: Blood Wars. Elsewhere on TV, he had a recurring role as Lord Daniel Sinderby on Downton Abbey and played Pope Sixtus IV in Da Vinci’s Demons.

Next: Jerome Flynn reveals which Lanniser brother Bronn prefers

If you want to see more of Faulkner, he’s currently starring alongside Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, out now in theaters.

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