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David Bradley Says He'll Be Back on Game of Thrones
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 07.13.2014

David Bradley recently spoke with IGN about his role as Abraham Setrakian on FX's The Strain, his work as Walder Frey on Game of Thrones and more. Check out the highlights:

On Setrakian's pawn shop and his basement apartment below: "Well, it's a real treat, really. Because of the detail... and have you seen the basement and the armory? It's fantastic, isn't it? It just adds to this guy's interesting past, you know, and I suppose it hopefully will make the audience think, "What's going on here? What's in the jar under the cupboard?" And as you know, it gradually becomes apparent throughout the story - with all the flashbacks as well, going into the concentration camp, and it just gives him an interesting past. And a rich one that hopefully the audience will gradually get to know him as well as all the other characters as they move along together."

On what drew him to the show: "When I was first asked to do it, I mean, it was those three magic words: Guillermo Del Toro. I'm a big fan and I think Pan's Labyrinth is one of the finest films I've ever seen, and I enjoyed Pacific Rim. And I didn't really need to see a script. I can't actually remember if I saw a whole script or if they just gave me a breakdown about what happens to the character, and I just knew I wanted to do it. And it's the first time I've been to Canada, let alone worked here, so it was quite an adventure and quite a big relocation for me."

What he thinks of his character: "I'm looking forward to finding out more about the story, about him and his past life, before he decided to change it and move to New York. And his relationship with his wife. Maybe they'll be scenes with her later, I don't know yet. I'm waiting to see. But we're all so excited that every time a new script lands in our mailbox, it's very exciting. Because as you probably know, I'm about halfway through the [book] trilogy at the moment, and sometimes I'm reading the book and learning a script and I get the two mixed up sometimes, because there are some things that are in the books that aren't in the scripts, and vice versa. He's added scenes to the film that weren't in the books. So I'm prepared to be, no matter how familiar I am with the books, I'm prepared to be surprised at any time."

On replacing John Hurt right before production: "Well, it was a bit like, 'Can you come to Canada for five months in four days time?' So there wasn't too much time to think about it. I mean, you're getting your passport renewed, visas and everything, and trying to organize stuff at home. So I just threw my lot in and I said, "I just know I want to do this, I want to be a part of this thing." Because you just know from seeing his [del Toro's] work that he's going to make it look special. And it was I think thrilling for all of us to see the pilot and what he'd done with it, and you know if the rest of it's going to be like that, it's gonna be pretty exciting. I mean, it's great working with different directors on each episode. On the Harry Potter films where we had some directors do 3 or 4 of the films... Chris Columbus did a couple, David Yates did, I think, four, so we had different directors on that, but my contribution to the Potters was minimal compared to this, where you're in the vanguard in terms of what happens in the story. All the directors have been so interesting in their way of working, but they're all part of the same storyline. So that was a new experience. And they've all been just great to work with."

On his character being tough and ready to fight: "Well, I like the fact that the audience will think he's either mad, maybe bad, and possibly dangerous to know. And as the story develops, they think, "Oh, he's right! He does know exactly what's going on." So rather than being just this virtuous kind of high priest of vampirism or something, I love it when the audience's expectations are overturned in any drama. Because there's conflict on the outside and there's conflict within with these characters. And although he is quite old, I like the fact that someone of my age is someone who is proactive and not someone who is just a passenger or being helped through this. It's his, as we gradually find out, it's his desire for vengeance, particularly about what happened to his wife, the love of his life, and that gives him that drive and anger and energy for him to want to see it through and not fail this time. And that's what gives him this vitality and the ability to go into action with his sword. It's just like he's finding that extra… like an old boxer coming back again for one more bash at the title. I've reached the age where I've played quite a few… My daughter kept saying, "Dad, why are you always dying?" I've spent enough time onscreen lying in bed on my last legs as this frail old guy, so it's so nice to play someone who's got that vigor and that drive, and brave enough to wade in with his silver sword."

On his big year in 2013: Well, I've never had a year like that, when you just happened to have been in 3 or 4 successful things, and all of them showing in the States and in Canada. So it's nice to come over here and be sitting in a bar or a restaurant and someone will come over and say they enjoyed Broadchurch, or Game of Thrones and they're looking forward to this, and the William Hartnell thing [BBC's Adventures in Space & Time] and that. I suppose it's been the best year in terms of getting stuff shown over here for me. Because most British actors and actresses will say, "Oh yeah, it's good being in successful things in England, it's great." But if you can be in something that's successful on the biggest stage, across the pond, it's every actor's dream. It's like if you love doing theater, to play on Broadway. It's what you all want to do at some point.

On if he prefers to play "good" and "bad" characters: "I like it when there's a kind of mixture of the two, and the audience are not sure which way you are. As I said before, just being a good guy makes you more predictable, but because of [Setrakian's] past, and because he may be prepared… because he's on this long mission that he manages to persuade other people to come along with him on it, he could be wrong. He could be just totally unrealistic about how to deal with this, but it's his only way and he's putting himself in danger, which I don't think he worries about too much as long as he can do some damage. But he's also allowing other people to come along and put themselves in danger. So it's not really selfish, but it is in a way - it's in pursuit of what he wants to do. He tells them openly, "If you get turned, I will have to release you," and he assumes that they'll do the same for him. So it's a mixture of the good and the bad, ruthless, but for the best possible reasons. And that makes him more interesting. I have played some totally irredeemable characters. I mean, like Game of Thrones, Walder Frey, there's nothing too… You don't invite guys like that to your wedding. [laughs]"

On the reaction he gets from Game of Thrones fans: "I've had people winding their car windows down and shouting at me. [laughs] …They shout, "I can't forgive you for what you've done!" Michael McElhatton ("Roose Bolton"), who was my co-conspirator in the Red Wedding, when we finished the scene, we both agreed that we might just stay off the street for a few days. [laughs]"

On Walder Frey's eventual return: "I bumped into David Benioff and a few of the Starks that I, um, got rid of at Comic Con in San Diego last year, and we all had a meal and a drink. And they said, "Oh, we'll be seeing you again soon." Obviously not in the fourth season, but I'm sure there's some kind of retribution waiting for me somewhere down the line. But I like to think he gets away with it. [laughs]"


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