John Bradley talks about Sam’s new role as Grand Maester


Sam Tarly made it out of Game of Thrones alive. In fact, he made it out of Game of Thrones sitting pretty as a top advisor to King Bran the Broken. “I think that the ending was what I always wanted for Sam,” actor John Bradley told Esquire. “Now he’s the Grand Maester on the small council and he’s using his knowledge and using his unique set of skills, in terms of his academic mind and curiosity, he’s using all of those tools that he has at his disposal to affect the common good and he’s making change. He’s making a difference.”

But how exactly did Sam maneuver himself this position? There were some time jumps in the series finale, first between Jon killing Daenerys and the gathering of lords and ladies who chose Bran as king, and then between the choosing and Sam taking his place on Bran’s small council. So far as Sam being at the Dragonpit meeting, Bradley was glad Sam was finally being acknowledged for his gifts, that people he had worked with throughout his journey thought his brain would be of use during that crucial moment. “He was ridiculed and he was worthless and he was cast aside by his family,” Bradley said. “He was a target of abuse for the rest of the Night’s Watch and everybody else at Castle Black. He’s now in a position where his opinion is being sought. His presence is required to make these big decisions.”

True, the lords and ladies didn’t take to Sam’s suggestion that Westeros institute democracy, but you can’t rush these things. “That’s been a recurring theme for Sam over the series. He seems too progressive for the world that he’s in.” Maybe in a few years.

The choosing ceremony, by the way, was Bradley’s “favorite scene to shoot for a number of reasons.” Even so, it sounds like it was a slog to film. “I mean, we did to 12 hours a day for six days straight.” But whenever energy was flagging, something came along to lift everyone back up, and most often, that someone was Peter Dinklage:

"Peter had the last day and a half to shoot that incredible speech that he gave. By that day, we were starting to slag and we were starting to get tired and a little bit restless. Just the beauty and the technical skill and the sheer proficiency of Peter’s performance. It really kind of invigorated everybody. You saw Peter working to the level he was working at and you just thought he needs me even off camera to maintain eye contact and deliver my lines. I think it was Joe Dempsie who said to Peter, that’s one of those takes, sort of masterful takes, and he said, “It was a real privilege to watch that.” There’s something really special about seeing an artist about that working on the peak of their powers."

This was also Bradley’s last week of shooting, as it was for several cast members. It’s no wonder it was special to him.

As for Sam becoming Grand Maester, Bradley thinks that Sam, “who has never been slow when it came to seeing how he could work a situation to his advantage,” leveraged his close bond with now-King Bran. “As soon as Bran became King, Sam…could have gone to see Bran and say ‘Bran now that we are mates and now that you’re King, remember that time when we found out about Jon’s parents? Well how about you do your old mate a favor and maybe see if the Grand Maester position is available.'”

Now that he’s Grand Maester, Sam has a whole new world of problems to grapple with. For example, is someone gonna do something about Drogon roaming the countryside?? “I think that if you can think of it as there’s still a dragon out there that’s fueled by anger and fueled by grief and stills got a sense of bitterness then nobody is going to quite sleep easy in their beds.”


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But that’s a topic for another show, one we’re not ever likely to see. “It’s a really complicated set of emotions because you’re really proud of how it ended but you think there’s still more life in these characters,” Bradley said of the series finale, which he watched alongside Emilia Clarke at a screening in London. “You want to see the adventures of Arya, you want to see how Sansa is going to rule the north.”

But alas, HBO has said it’s not planning any sequel series, so Bradley will have to move on. “I was just so proud of him, it’s such a happy place to leave him. And I just love him so much. I’ve loved him so much, I suppose it is eight years, it’s just nice to see him so happy and so fulfilled.”

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