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3 Body Problem's John Bradley on Game of Thrones' Ned Stark and the Significance Behind 'Shock Deaths'

'As any actor would, you'd like to stick around longer,' John Bradley said

Kat Moon
John Bradley, 3 Body Problem

John Bradley, 3 Body Problem


[Warning: The following contains spoilers for 3 Body Problem Episode 3. Read at your own risk!]

In Game of Thrones, only a handful of characters survived the show's expansive eight seasons. The endearing Samwell Tarly, portrayed by John Bradley, was one of them. But in the actor's new collaboration with Thrones showrunners David BenioffD. B. Weiss, his character does not enjoy the same longevity.

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Jack Rooney (Bradley) is part of the "Oxford Five" in Netflix's 3 Body Problem, an adaptation of Liu Cixin's novel of the same name developed by Benioff, Weiss, and Alexander Woo. The Five are a brilliant group of scientists that also include Jin Cheng (Jess Hong), Will Downing (Alex Sharp), Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), and Auggie Salazar (Eiza González). Right away, Rooney becomes one of the select few who has the opportunity to play with a mysterious virtual reality device with technology far beyond human comprehension. In Episode 3, he, along with VR buddy Jin, learns that aliens called San Ti Ren created this tech. They want to share their story with humans, and they're on their way to Earth.

While Jin stays with the San Ti's messenger Tatiana (Marlo Kelly) to learn more, Rooney leaves and refuses to believe what she said. That was clearly a fatal mistake, since he returns home to find Tatiana — who stabs Rooney to death.

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"As any actor would, you'd like to stick around longer, you'd like to have more to do," Bradley said of his initial reaction to Rooney's death. But it didn't take him long to start thinking differently. "Going back to Ned Stark in Season 1 of Game of Thrones," the actor said, "if there's anything that David and Dan do arguably better than anybody else ever, it's shock deaths."

Bradley shared more about what he thinks are Benioff and Weiss' intentions behind "shock deaths." "If they give you a death, especially if it's a shock, it's because they have faith in you and your character that the audience will care about it," he explained. "If they think an audience won't care, they won't invest enough time to kill you in such a shock way."

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With that perspective in mind, Bradley saw the value in Rooney's death. "Also, [Benioff and Weiss] are kind of playing around with people's knowledge of their previous work," he continued. "Like oh, they didn't kill him all the way through Game of Thrones, they're not going to kill him in this either." But that is obviously not the case.

"For [Rooney] to go so early in Season 1 is basically David and Dan saying, we're going to play around with your expectation," Bradley said. "And we're going to hopefully make you feel sad — they love that, it's their favorite thing."

All episodes of 3 Body Problem are available to stream on Netflix.