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The Untold Truth Of John Bradley

Odds are that you know actor John Bradley from his eight years on HBO's "Game of Thrones." He played Samwell Tarly, the show's incorruptible, lovable underdog and stand-in for series author George R. R. Martin. Given the show's success both critically and commercially, and Bradley's young age of only 33, his career and his place in the public's hearts are still tightly interwoven with the Tarly character. Even in Bradley's interviews, he emits much of Tarly's boyish innocence, virtue, and understated charm. But to dig deeper into John Bradley is to discover a multi-layered, multi-talented figure with a seemingly limitless future ahead.

Bradley has already led a complex and fascinating life. From his first dreams of show business to his upcoming starring role in "Moonfall," his career and passions have only intensified and expanded. Much like Tarly, Bradley's fortunes have continued to improve through the years by virtue of hard work and unfaltering authenticity. However, unlike Tarly, Bradley's story has not finished, and the actor continues his hero's journey towards greatness.

Just as the Night King's army breached The Wall and probed the Kingdom in the North, we'll break down Bradley's walls and explore the man within. Brace yourselves — the untold truth is coming.

The Spice Girls launched John Bradley's career

In a September 8, 2017 interview with "Wiki What?" (via Vulture), John Bradley revealed to host Josh Gondelman the driving force behind his dream to become an actor. Regular talk show viewers will be familiar with the usual inspiration stories: actors almost always state their initial impulse as carrying on a family legacy, idolizing another actor, or coming from performative personalities that just couldn't be reigned in. Bradley's story is not one of these. He told Gondelman, "Genuinely I said to myself when I was about eight years old, 'I have to get famous in order to meet Geri Halliwell.'"

Again, during an appearance on "Conan", Bradley cited the same inspiration, proving it to be more than just a throwaway bit. As he told Conan, "I loved Geri Halliwell. Ginger Spice. Love isn't even too strong a word ... (I thought) I should become an actor because that's the only way I can get to meet her. And that's the inspiration for my entire career." Not only was Halliwell the source of Bradley's first aspirations, but she was –- and still is –- the only thing apparently keeping him acting. As he told Conan, "The second I meet her, I'm done. I'm retiring." Let's hope Bradley doesn't meet Halliwell anytime soon.

Game of Thrones was John Bradley's first audition

In addition to his motivation, John Bradley also sets himself apart from most other actors in another major way: he landed the defining role of his career in his very first audition. Just months after his 2010 graduation from the Manchester School of Theatre, Bradley went out for his first audition for a major production. He read for the role of Samwell Tarly on "Game of Thrones" and was quite obviously successful.

In an interview on "Ellen" just before "Game of Thrones" ended its last season, the titular host asked Bradley about the magnitude of that audition. "I had just come out of drama training, and as an actor, your first audition is always a daunting prospect no matter what it is," Bradley responded. "When it looked kind of more and more likely that I was going to get it, that's when everything changed. It just seems like life doesn't happen like that, and you don't get jobs like that." Ellen, as succinct as ever, reassured Bradley, "Life does happen like that sometimes." It certainly did happen like that for Bradley, and by now it's hard to imagine any other actor bringing Samwell Tarly to life like Bradley did.

He has a secret cameo in World of Warcraft

The MMORPG "World of Warcraft" allows players to explore hundreds of different areas across multiple continents, each with its quirks and aesthetics, and each with its own cast of fantasy characters. One such character is Marten Webb, a human alchemist who can be found roaming the war-torn village of Falconhurst in Western Drustvar. If players speak to him, he'll offer them a quest to find his missing master. Though he seems at first like a generic non-playable character (NPC), a few sharp-eared players noticed that Webb sounds an awful lot like Samwell Tarly. That's because Webb is voiced by Tarly himself, John Bradley.

For some reason, perhaps simply because the role is so small, no one from Blizzard Entertainment ever announced Bradley would be voicing a character in the game. Specifically, the Webb character was included as a part of the 2018 "Battle for Azeroth" expansion, though Bradley's role was never mentioned in any of its marketing materials. It wasn't until a player tweeted Senior Casting & Voice Director at Blizzard Entertainment Andrea Toyias and asked her directly about Webb's voice that the role was confirmed. Even then, she only replied with a simple "yes." When combined with the fact that Wowpedia states that Bradley "has provided several voices" for the game, it forces you to wonder if there is more Bradley in the game just waiting to be discovered.

He missed the Emmys to clean bedpans

One of Samwell Tarly's most infamous scenes aired in the "Game of Thrones" Season 7 premiere, which catches you up with his life at the Citadel. Through a montage, you're treated to an increasingly revolting series of shots in which Tarly serves bowls of soup and empties diarrhea-filled bedpans. As the montage progresses, the contents of the bowls and pans begin to blend together until Tarly's entire routine seems to be pouring thick, brown liquid from place to place. Though the scene itself is disgusting, John Bradley's experience filming it may have been even worse.

In an interview with Vulture, Bradley laid bare every hot, steaming detail. The sequence took five days to shoot and was filled to the brim with prop excrement made of wet fruitcake that wasn't much better than the real thing. As Bradley put it, "When you get to five in the afternoon ... and the wet fruitcake has been in the water and under the hot lights all day, it starts to become only slightly less unpleasant than the real thing."

To make matters worse, his fellow cast members were having a bit more fun with their duties. As Bradley said, "While I was shooting that sequence on my own over five days, the rest of the cast were at the Emmys! They were on the red carpet in L.A. while I was on my own in Belfast, dry-heaving and pretending to scrape s*** out of the bedpan."

Bradley is an excellent drummer

One of the absolute last things you would expect from sweet, innocuous John Bradley, especially with his persona so deeply conflated with Tarly's, is for him to engage in a loud, quick, physical hobby. And yet, that's exactly how Bradley blows off steam. In his spare time, he's a drummer – and an excellent one, too. It wasn't until his appearance on the short-lived British game show Bring the Noise that Bradley revealed to the world his mad skills on the skins.

His solo begins with a flurry of tom hits that might only impress non-drummers, but that is only because Bradley has the instincts of a showman. Measure by measure, he gradually begins varying his drums and rhythms, building to an impressive finale in which he expertly uses the entire kit. Bradley, as demure as ever, told Bustle that playing the drums was "not something that I shared with people before because ... if I had started to introduce that into my professional life, then I'd lose some of the enjoyment of it."

Bradley regretfully admits, "People kind of know about it now and it's not something that's a private passion anymore, it's become part of my image." Nonetheless, Bradley's image remains, like Tarly's, humble and charming.

He was the butt of Game of Thrones' biggest prank

During its eight-year run, the cast and crew of "Game of Thrones" had a lot of fun at each other's expense, including a number of elaborate pranks and practical jokes. One of the biggest and most involved was pulled by Kit Harington and Hannah Murray, aka Gilly, and came at John Bradley's expense. Knowing in advance that Bradley was going to receive a new outfit for the show's upcoming season, Harington and Murray seized the opportunity and commissioned a few alterations to its design.

Regaling Popsugar with the prank's lengthy saga, Harington said, "We said to the costume people, 'Can you just mock up the most ridiculous outfit you can possibly come up with that could still be feasible?'" The resulting gag costume was, in showrunner Dan Weiss's words, like a "Renaissance-fair fool ... very Henry the Eighth, with Tudor bloomers and a massive codpiece."

Despite the outfit's absurd extravagance, Bradley bought the prank fully. He recalled, "I looked so bad and ridiculous ... The reason I bought it is because we'd never seen Sam at home before, and (his parents) think he's an idiot. Maybe Sam dressed like an idiot." The exact amount of time Bradley wore the ensemble isn't clear, but it was long enough that Murray remembers him complaining about it "all the time."

He became stuck as Samwell Tarly

The role of Samwell Tarly remains the longest, most influential, and most informative of John Bradley's career. As his first major acting gig, and one that occupied eight out of 11 years of his career as a professional actor, the role became a major part of his artistic identity. It was also a part that Bradley had a hard time getting over.

Bradley revealed on the Blank Podcast (via The Sun) how deeply he fell into a rut playing Tarly and how crippling it was as a performer. He explained that Tarly "had a traumatic childhood and suffered a lot — and it manifested through a stammer and a twitch sometimes." Tarly's stammer, twitch, and overall slow pace as a character became Bradley's default, and it caused his range as an actor to shrink considerably for a period. Bradley remembers how difficult his scenes became, saying, "There are takes of me where ... I couldn't speak and I just can't get the words out and certain sounds would trip me up."

Worse, it began to affect his roles outside of "Game of Thrones," with Bradley admitting that the stammer in particular began showing up when he would audition for other roles. But Bradley went to on reassure listeners that, luckily, he was able to work past both the stammer and the performance anxiety it created.

Bradley gets fierce about fantasy

In multiple interviews, John Bradley has mentioned that he takes issue with the way some "Game of Thrones" fans react to the fantastical world of Westeros. In particular, he claims that some fans seem unable to suspend their disbelief when it comes to his weight.

He articulated his umbrage best during an interview with Conan O'Brien, telling the host how a fan once asked Bradley why Tarly never loses weight despite his constant hiking and starvation. Bradley responded to the fan by saying, "This is a fantasy show. We've got fire-breathing giant dragons, we've got ice zombies, we've got a woman giving birth to a cloud -– why is it me still being fat that you just don't buy?"

Though it's unclear what the fan's intentions were in bringing up Tarly's -– and therefore Bradley's -– weight, they were, whether they knew it or not, addressing a discrepancy in the show's verisimilitude, the level to which it adheres to its own laws and thereby remains believable. Bradley is right that the show contains many fantastical elements, yet its main characters are essentially regular humans — they eat like we do and like us, they aren't immune to starvation. Whether the issue is a valid one or not, however, it's probably best not to argue it to Bradley.

Samwell Tarly is Game of Thrones' true hero

...at least to John Bradley, anyway. Through the years, Bradley has maintained the position that Samwell Tarly is the best character on "Game of Thrones" –- or at least the nicest. Vulture agreed and ranked Tarly the "most good-hearted" character on the show. They brought their assessment up when they had a chance to sit down with Bradley, who had volumes to say about Tarly's virtue.

Bradley asserted that Tarly's only major flaw is how much he let his past trauma hold him back. "He's one of those people whose heart is strong, and sometimes his head will get in the way," said Bradley. "But when he acts on impulse ... he does it because he has an enormous heart and he doesn't have time to remember all the psychological baggage." Bradley went on to claim Tarly as the moral paragon of the show, saying, "The fact that he wants to do so much good really puts him head and shoulders above everybody else."

Speaking with Esquire, Bradley virtually raved about his character's arc, which found him becoming a Grand Maester under King Bran. Sounding almost giddy enough to have a crush on Tarly, Bradley said, "I was just so proud of him, it's such a happy place to leave him. And I just love him so much ... it's just nice to see him so happy and so fulfilled." Bradley can rest assured that a great many "Game of Thrones" fans share his love for Tarly and appreciate the uncommonly happy ending he received.

Moonfall will be John Bradley's biggest film role to date

Despite the enormous visibility that came with his role in "Game of Thrones," or perhaps directly because of the show's demanding production schedule, John Bradley has not yet developed a lengthy filmography. When his 11-year career is compared to a similar time frame of a famous workhorse like Samuel L. Jackson, for example, Bradley almost seems like a part-timer. In reality, Bradley's career is just now reaching the right balance between recognition and availability, and is sure to heat up quickly.

At the moment, he has multiple movies and series in varying levels of production, and one in particular, the sci-fi disaster film "Moonfall," will be Bradley's first-ever starring role in a major Hollywood production. Not only will Bradley graduate to movie stardom, he will do so alongside A-listers Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson.

Bradley plays K. C. Houseman, a conspiracy theorist whose rampant paranoia lead him to a surprising (and surprisingly accurate) discovery: the moon is no longer orbiting the Earth and what's more — it seems that some kind of intelligence is in control of its trajectory. Alongside astronauts played by Berry and Wilson, Houseman blasts off on a mission to "save the moon (and) save Earth." "Moonfall" opens in theaters on February 4, 2022.