John Bradley on Getting to Do Something He Never Did on Game of Thrones for 3 Body Problem

With Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss among the big names behind the new 3 Body Problem adaptation, fans of the HBO series probably weren’t surprised to see Game of Thrones alumni John Bradley, Liam Cunningham, and Jonathan Pryce among the core cast of the Netflix show—nor the cameos that pop up across its eight episodes.

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But while the shows are obviously quite different in terms of plot (one has dragons, one has aliens), there was also a huge difference for Bradley when it came to playing his character. 3 Body Problem’s Jack Rooney actually has a lot in common with Game of Thrones’ Samwell Tarley—they’re both smart, funny, well-liked, mischievous, and tend to do their own thing no matter what the mainstream thinks. But Jack, a pop-culture fanatic and video-game fan who channeled his science genius into a hugely successful snack-food empire, does one thing that Samwell decidedly does not do, and it’s kind of surprising considering the general atmosphere of Game of Thrones.

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Long story short: Jack dies. Horribly. Really early in the series! Speaking to Variety, Bradley discussed what it was like finally meeting his end in a Benioff-Weiss show (3 Body Problem’s third creator is Alexander Woo) after somehow surviving all of Game of Thrones.

“At first, I was a little bit disappointed … I felt a little bit slighted, and I wrestled with that for a bit,” the actor admitted about finding out Jack would be killed off in episode three. “Then I realized that if there’s one thing that David and Dan have done very well over the years, it’s deaths. They certainly know how to execute, if you’ll pardon the expression, a really good screen death. Some of the deaths in Game of Thrones are the moments that the audience have emotionally invested in the most. I was invested in the Red Wedding as much as anybody else. So I felt honored to be killed off by David and Dan, in the end.”

Bradley also realized how important it would be for his abbreviated performance to still make a palpable impact. “I had to create enough of an impression that that character would be missed, and would be mourned by the audience in not much screen time,” he said. “I felt flattered that David and Dan thought that I was up to that job, and thought that Jack’s death would inspire a bit of a gear change in the series. After Jack dies, there’s a definite mood change.”

And as it happens, taking Game of Thrones fans by surprise ended up being part of the subtext once Bradley was cast. “[Benioff and Weiss were also] playing with the meta expectations of the audience’s prior knowledge of their work,” he said. “[Fans] know that David and Dan didn’t kill me off in Game of Thrones, so they don’t think they’re going to kill me off in this.”

3 Body Problem is now streaming on Netflix.

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