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John Bradley on Taking a Year Off After ’Game of Thrones,’ and How ‘Marry Me’ Role Opened the Door to ‘Moonfall’ 

The actor also tells TheWrap about the unusual questions he asked astronauts as part of his preparation

John Bradley heads to outer space this weekend as an independent scientist (read: moon conspiracy theorist) hoping to help Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry save the world in Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster epic, “Moonfall.” If the big budget film had been his first acting offer after hanging up Samwell Tarly’s maester’s cloak and chains on “Game of Thrones,” though, the British actor might have said no.

“Well, funnily enough, the thing upon leaving ‘Game of Thrones’ all those years ago now, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do at the time, but I just knew that I didn’t want to do anything that was going to be comparable to it in any way really, because as soon as something is successful, a lot of clones of it start to appear. And you see a lot of ‘Game of Thrones’-esque projects starting up,” Bradley told TheWrap during a recent interview. “So, I just thought, ‘Well, I’m not quite sure that I want to be in one of those. Comparisons will be drawn.’ So I waited quite a long time. I didn’t work for a year after ‘Game of Thrones,’ and I was actually getting a bit down about it just wondering, you know … was I ever going to work again, and actually, the thing that pulled me out of that mire was getting ‘Marry Me,’ which is the other movie that I’ve got coming out.”

In “Marry Me,” which is due out on Feb. 11, Bradley plays Collin Calloway, who works for Jennifer Lopez’s music superstar character Kat Valdez. The film’s plot centers around Valdez marrying a stranger (Owen Wilson) in the audience at her concert after a report emerges that her fellow music sensation beau Bastian (Maluma) cheated on her. Stepping into a role that required nice business suits over robes and iPhones over dragonglass was the refresh the actor said he needed.

“Because that was completely modern day, modern dress, a musical romantic comedy – was so far away from ‘Game of Thrones,’ it’s impossible to draw a comparison between the two,” Bradley continued. “So that kind of – that reset me, really, and going from that into ‘Moonfall’ – it made me feel more open to the idea of doing a big sort of like sci-fi or fantasy thing again, a big sort of otherworldly, big budget epic thing with a lot of scale to it.”

Bradley isn’t making a direct comparison between “Moonfall,” where he plays KC Houseman, who is first to discover – even before NASA – that the moon is out of orbit, to “Thrones.” But notes rather that the two projects are in the same genre– sci-fi/fantasy.

John Bradley, Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry in "Moonfall" (Lionsgate)
John Bradley, Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry in “Moonfall” (Lionsgate)

Filmed in Montreal during the lockdown days of the pandemic, “Moonfall” follows Bradley’s Houseman, a moon conspiracy theorist, as he seeks out disgraced astronaut Brian Harper (Wilson) to convince him that something needs to be done about the moon situation. The unlikely pair end up joining forces with Jocinda Fowl (Berry), Harper’s estranged former NASA partner, as they all work to find a way to get into outer space to deal with the growing – and falling (as in, crashing into the Earth) – moon problem. With little to do while the cast was in quarantine for two weeks, producers got Bradley and his co-stars Zoom sessions with an actual astronaut to help inform their roles. 

“That’s worth doing the job for, alone,” Bradley said. “It was so fascinating. There’s something about space and something about the moon in particular, that, you know, you’re exposed to it as a concept from being very, very young. And you’re obviously looking up the moon and sort of wondering what it is. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ is one of the first songs you have to learn. And to talk to somebody who’s actually been up there and actually can tell you what it’s like to be in space, it was an unbelievable experience.”

It also offered the actor a chance to indulge his curiosities about space travel.

“And of course, you know, I tried to ask quite – other people asked fairly highfalutin questions about space travel and certain technical aspects of it – I wanted to know what time is it in space? Which is quite a good question, right?” he said, “And what happens if an astronaut died in space,” he said (later noting the second question was likely due to having so much time to think during the pandemic).

And yes, Bradley got those answers. It’s apparently Greenwich meantime, and as for the other one, it’s apparently quite technical.

Although he is a TV veteran with eight seasons of “Game of Thrones” under his belt (across a decade), as well roles in projects including “Merlin,” the U.K.’s “Shameless” and “Borgia,” shooting a big, expansive film like “Moonfall” did see Bradley relying on his co-stars. For example, there’s a scene early-ish in the film where the shifting moon changes the tides, resulting in flooding across Los Angeles, including in the hotel Houseman and Harper are in with an eclectic mix of amateur scientists. But did he turn to Wilson, who has big-budget experience in “Aquaman,” as they slogged through flooding carpets, and battled more and more water, for tips on what they could do about the soggy scene?

“I was always like, ‘Patrick, what are we going to do about this?’” Bradley said. “That seemed to be my sort of mantra for the whole movie. He’s such a capable actor … knows these kinds of stunts inside out. He knows exactly what he was doing. I’m such a beginner to a lot of that stuff. It was great to have him there too. As my anchor, so to speak.”

Building bonds with Wilson and Berry helped as the trio were in tight quarters as they filmed scenes where their characters only have each other to rely on in the battle against the crashing-to-Earth moon.

“It really helped our performances and really helped our sense of collaboration because even though, as you say — even though this is a big effects movie with all sorts of green screen going on outside [us], we spend most of it in the vast expanse of space, it’s still quite an intimate acting experience because you feel like you’re totally isolated from everybody else because you are. Because once the door slams on your little cockpit it’s literally just the three of you in there and nobody can get in,” Bradley shared. “They were shoving boom mics through the windows of the shuttle, but when we were in there, we couldn’t see anybody else. So it really did feel like it was the three of us up sort of close and personal, really getting to see the intensity of each other’s performances while we were in there.”

“Moonfall” is in theaters now. “Marry Me” releases in theaters and on Peacock on Feb. 11.

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