The biggest problem with being a high-budget, worldwide TV sensation is that you can't just skate by being good TV anymore. You have to be the best. That's a sensation the cast and creators of Game of Thrones are feeling now more than ever as they film the final season of this eight-year saga.
The pressure to perform is staggering, especially when you realize this show has just over six hours of content left to tie up every loose end and stray storyline in a way that's gratifying to fans without venturing into fan-service territory.
"The stakes definitely feel ramped up," John Bradley told TV Guide when asked how the current filming of Season 8 was going. "We know that we've got a real job to do. This has been a part of people's lives for so many years. This is our eighth season, and we are kind of feeling the pressure to get it right because we want to satisfy people. We want to give people a payoff that they're going to be happy with. We know how militantly passionate the fans of this show can be -- in a good way -- and we just kind of want to give them an ending that they deserve."
Luckily for Bradley, the creation of that ending has been safely left in the hands of David Benoiff and D.B Weiss, the two men who created the show in the first place and have seen it through to the end. Who better to trust than the writers who have dedicated nearly a decade to bringing this adaptation to life?
"The show has always been in the hands of two of the greatest helmsmen in TV," Bradley says of Benioff and Weiss, "And nobody cares more about the show than those guys. Nobody feels that fan pressure more than they do. I think people are going to be delighted with the results."
He did reveal that this season would push all the characters we know and love (and some we hate) into new territory that will seriously test them. As an actor, he says, that's the greatest treat of all. Finding out new things about someone you've been playing for years, simply because he or she has finally been placed in a setting or situation that's entirely new to them.
"These characters are so detailed and so rich, you can feel that you've got a pretty good handle on your character. You can predict how your character will react in any given circumstance, but when you place these characters in a new environment, it's always putting them under a microscope, and you constantly have to reexamine your character," Bradley says. "Each of the characters this year is placed in a completely alien environment at some point in the season that they've never been placed in before. The thrill is seeing how they react to it and how they respond... This season, I think, more than any other is stretching these characters."