John Bradley

John Bradley
John Bradley
Who is:
Birth date:
(35 y.o.)
Place of birth:
Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, England
5'8 ft ()
238 lb (108 kg)
Birth Sign:
Chinese zodiac:

Biography of John Bradley

John Bradley is a British actor who gained widespread fame for his role as Samwell Tarly in the fantasy series "Game of Thrones," based on the novel by George R. R. Martin. Additionally, his filmography includes the role of KC Houseman in Roland Emmerich's blockbuster "Moonfall" and his well-crafted portrayal of Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici in the historical drama "Borgia." In 2024, the actor starred as the genius Jack Rooney in the Netflix adaptation of the science fiction drama "The Three-Body Problem."
Actor John Bradley
Actor John Bradley

Childhood, Adolescence, Family

John was born in the autumn of 1988 into the Bradley-West family from Manchester, England. He has an older sister whom he thought of as "old" during his childhood because she was born 13 years before him.

The city where John grew up is known for many famous people. From the Catholic high school of St. Paul, where the future actor studied, came musician Andy Rourke, model and actress Louise Cliffe, and footballer Tony Sinclair. Speaking of his hometown, Bradley emphasized in one interview:
I live in Manchester, where people generally have a dismissive attitude toward celebrities. Here, nobody pays attention to famous rock musicians or football players. Those who come up to talk are real fans who already have a very good opinion of you. We're not reality show stars who are «famous for being famous»: seven seasons have shown what we're capable of. People either have been watching the series for a long time and love it, or have no idea who I am.
From a young age, the boy preferred theater productions and music activities. He was amazed by Lionel Bart's musical "Oliver!", based on the work of Charles Dickens. John was so captivated by it that he created unimaginable costumes from various items—his mother's coat, his father's work boots—and bought inexpensive props to begin performing in front of his family as if from a theater stage.

From 2005 to 2007, he studied law, psychology, English, as well as drama and theater arts at Loreto College in Manchester. Bradley also received a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from the Manchester School of Theatre, which he graduated in 2010.

Discussing his school education, John detailed how he came to his first roles on stage and in film:
The way most theater schools work in the UK: during the first two years of the three-year course, we learned techniques and various theater disciplines, such as naturalistic Chekhovian theater, surrealist-absurdist theater in the style of Brecht or Beckett, and of course, plenty of Shakespeare, in addition to intensive movement and vocal training. We rehearsed each play we staged for about four weeks during the first two years, then performed it «internally,» meaning for an audience consisting solely of staff and other students of the school. In the third year, we let the public in and put on three plays for a paying audience over the year. Agents are invited to come and see these performances and to approach the students who interest them.
Agents noticed the young actor during a showcase performance at a London theater. He performed a monologue from the absurdist "The Lesson" by Eugène Ionesco and a dialogue (with another student) from Neil Simon's comedy play. Representatives from several agencies approached Bradley; he signed a contract with Shepherd Management—represented by the first agent who contacted John after the presentation, just two minutes after the curtain closed.

Acting Career

"Game of Thrones" was the first audition that John Bradley attended. He had to ask for time off from rehearsals for his last play in which he was performing on stage: it was "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" by Joe Orton.

The audition took place in London, and John, along with the already confirmed Kit Harington, performed a scene at the top of the Wall, in which the Stark bastard shared his past and his relationship with his father with his friend. As a result, John landed the role of Samwell Tarly.

Talking about his character, John admitted that he had not read the novel even during filming, so he did not rely on the book's version of Sam and made the character much funnier:
He is often the butt of jokes. Additional scenes were written where Jon and Sam discuss girls and sex. Some of the quieter and conversational moments between Sam and Jon provided many opportunities for humor. I think that's what John finds appealing about Sam. I think he sees in Sam a person with great humanity and humor, based on intelligence and self-awareness. Samwell knows who he is and doesn't deceive himself into thinking he's someone he's not. John finds that very attractive.
The beginning actor's performance impressed the directors so much that after starting in "Game of Thrones," he was offered the role of Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, the son of the great Lorenzo de' Medici, in the historical costume drama "Borgia."

Bradley confessed that working on two such large-scale series at the same time was very intense, but he considered himself lucky to gain invaluable acting experience:
In October and November 2010, we were constantly traveling between Belfast and Prague to fulfill our filming commitments. 'Borgia' tells the story of the notorious Italian dynasty that killed, bribed, and blackmailed its way to power in the Catholic Church and Italian society in the 16th and 17th centuries. The main role of Rodrigo Borgia in the series is played by John Doman from 'The Wire,' the screenplay is predominantly written by Tom Fontana ('Oz'), and the director is partly Oliver Hirschbiegel ('Downfall').
In 2012, the actor appeared in three projects, though not in leading roles. He played Tyr Seward in the British fantasy series "Merlin," appeared as Wesley in the dramedy "Shameless," and portrayed an Austrian prince in the adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel "Anna Karenina."

Later on, Bradley starred in several feature films, won the Independent Days award for Best Actor for his role as Roy in the short film "Roger," and masterly played Ricky Rollins in the American supernatural musical thriller "American Satan."

The next time John's acting luck smiled was in 2022. He was involved in two premieres: the musical comedy "Marry Me" and the sci-fi action film "Moonfall."

In the first movie, he played Colin Calloway, the manager of the famous singer Kat, and his co-star on set was Jennifer Lopez. It was she who, after seeing John in "Game of Thrones," recommended the director to invite him for the role, and Bradley sincerely thanked her for the opportunity to change his image.

In the second film, Roland Emmerich's blockbuster, he played the main character – KC Houseman, a conspiracy theorist who first reports the impending disaster, while the character of the former astronaut Jo Fowler was brought to life on screen by Halle Berry.

John Bradley's Personal Life

The actor is not married and does not share details about his relationships. At one point, the media speculated that John would marry his "Game of Thrones" co-star Hannah Murray, who played Gilly, a wildling girl who forms a bond with the kind and caring Samwell.

The speculation was based on several facts: the actor would give his co-star lifts home after work, pick her up in the morning, and give her flowers. They were seen together in restaurants and visited cinemas. John once mentioned that he would like to work with Hannah on another project:
I would make Samwell Tarly and Gilly restaurant critics, sending them to write reviews of all the pubs and taverns from the South to the North. There was chemistry between Hannah Murray and me on screen. I would like to work with her more. Imagine, there's a historical reality show for our screen family. Are there children's chairs in the pub? Is the pork knuckle any good? Where's the best ale? I would watch such a culinary show...
Unfortunately for fans, a serious relationship between Bradley and Murray did not develop. In 2017, the actor began dating journalist Rebecca April May. They celebrated New Year's Eve 2019 together and spent Valentine's Day together, but there have been no reports of a wedding or even an engagement.

During the filming of "Game of Thrones," John formed a rock band called "Brotherhood Without Banjos," where he played the drums, Rory McCann played guitar, and Kit Harington was the vocalist. Additionally, the actor enjoys watching "WrestleMania" and is a devoted fan of the football team "Manchester United."

John Bradley Now

In 2023, the actor joined the cast of the sci-fi drama "The Three-Body Problem" from Netflix, where he portrayed Jack Rooney, one of five brilliant friends who made incredible discoveries that help understand what threatens the world. The film also stars Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, and Benedict Wong. The premiere took place in the spring of 2024. Unfortunately, the series did not escape comparisons with the Chinese adaptation of the novel by Liu Cixin, which was released a year earlier, and these comparisons were not in favor of the Netflix version.

In addition, in one of his recent interviews, Bradley hinted that the rumors about a "Game of Thrones" continuation are not unfounded, and he would be happy to return if called back into the project. When asked what will happen in the new season, Bradley responded quite evasively.

Interesting Facts

  • John Bradley shared that he had a painful reaction when he saw a meme with Samwell on the internet. The caption under the picture read: "Wandered around Westeros for months without food, but still fat!" The actor stated:
    The English language has a term 'fat-shaming' — condemning someone for being overweight. But as an actor, I am grateful for my appearance. It got me work and a role in the series. If I had been an ordinary, skinny twenty-year-old guy, would I have been cast in 'Game of Thrones'? I don't think so. If you look around, you'll see thin and plus-sized people of all sizes and colors, so there's no point in conforming to someone else's stereotype of beauty and ideals. Just be yourself.
  • During the filming of the famous TV series, Bradley became so immersed in the role of Samwell Tarly that sometimes it was difficult to return to reality. For example, according to the script, his character had a difficult childhood, poisoned by the influence of a tyrannical father, which caused him to develop a stutter. After filming ended, John continued to stutter for a while. At times, he also couldn't say a word when talking to colleagues off-set—accustomed to the shy Sam.
  • Bradley considers himself a traditionalist in some aspects. He still likes to buy music albums on physical media:
    There's nothing more exciting than buying a new album and just listening to it all the way through. I think that's something that's kind of disappearing these days with MP3s, where you can pick and choose different songs and ignore the rest. For example, Fleet Foxes—they're an American band, kind of folk. Great harmony. They are really cool. I just bought their new album without having heard a single song. I listened to it on the train on the way there. And it was just fantastic. An album is an art form in itself in terms of its pacing. The order of songs is crucial. Listening to an album from start to finish is one of my little pleasures. Nothing elicits such an emotional response in me as music.