Con of Thrones exclusive: Hannah Murray chats about Gilly’s growth and deserving credit for that “Prince Raggar” discovery

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It’s quite possible that Gilly has had the most unexpected, most un-Game of Thrones-y character arc of any Game of Thrones character.

It’s something Hannah Murray pointed out when we spoke to her at Con of Thrones. By the end of season 7, we’ve witnessed so many characters fall from grace and grow hardened as the things they love are taken away from them. Yet, “with Gilly, it’s the opposite,” Murray observed.

“Her beginnings are so harrowing and so awful and we’ve watched her get given things and we’ve watched her grow and we’ve watched her gain in strength … if anything she’s become softer and warmer as time’s gone on.”

She’s also become happier. Murray told us that, back in season 2, she made a conscientious decision not to smile, to keep Gilly’s expression “very deadpan” since Gilly had nothing to smile about at the time. “Then there were moments once we got to season 4 and [Gilly and Sam] were at Castle Black where I was like, ‘Oh she’s happy and she’s happy for the first time,” Murray said.

Gilly and Sam are one of the few couples on the show to survive (both relationally and literally) into season 8. Murray believes it’s precisely because they’re “underdogs” and “not traditionally heroic” that they’ve managed to hold on this long.

“I think there’s something about them both coming from such a vulnerable place that no one’s paying enough attention to them to ruin their lives,” she said. “So, they’ve been able to actually build a life and a family within all this chaos and that’s a very beautiful thing.”

It’s true. Sam and Gilly’s scenes are among the very few that regularly elicit “aww”s from viewers. And Murray is proud of the on-screen dynamic that she and John Bradley have developed.

“I think that the relationship with Sam could have been so many different things and I think it’s grown in a really organic, really honest way that feels subtle. John and I have always tried to make sure it doesn’t feel saccharine because I think there are moments when maybe it could,” she said.

Her favorite scene between Sam and Gilly is their conversation about baby names that takes place shortly before Sam kills a White Walker.

“It’s just so sweet but it feels so real and I think it’s very funny,” Murray gushed. “John and I had a lot of fun when were filming it. He really had fun over pronouncing all the names. ‘Tris-to-pher’,” she said, imitating Sam.

I asked Murray if the feelings of inadequacy that Gilly expressed in season 4 (“I’m sorry I don’t know things”) continues to inform her and Sam’s relationship.

Long answer short: no.

Murray pointed out that Sam’s immediate response to Gilly’s self-deprecation was, “You know how to do a hundred things that I can never do.” Which is true.

“She has a very different type of knowledge than Sam has,” Murray said. “One of my favorite lines that I ever had was when he offers to gather firewood and I say, ‘You’re not good at it.’ I love that she has these skills that’s different from his and that Sam would not have been able to survive on his own on their journey without her.”

That said, Murray and I agree that Gilly did not get the credit she was due for uncovering that juicy tidbit about Prince “Raggar”’s secret wedding in Dorne.

“I hadn’t read the scene where he passes on the information to Bran and I was like, ‘Wait you’re not even going to give me credit!” she laughed. “But also, to be fair, she didn’t know the weight of information at the time. She was just reading a book and she was lucking to stumble across it. They were both lucky that they stumbled across that piece of information.”

As for season 8, Murray said she found the final scripts “satisfyingly surprising.”

“I knew to expect the unexpected,” she said. “Anything that felt too obvious to me I knew was not going to be what [happened]. So there were certain things where I was like, “Well it can’t be that but I don’t know what it is going to be.

“It’s not like a fairytale happy ending by any means at all and I think it’s a really wonderful final season,” she said. “I’m really excited for people to get to see it.”

23 responses

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    1. I asked Murray if the feelings of inadequacy that Gilly expressed in season 4 (“I’m sorry I don’t know things”) continues to inform her and Sam’s relationship.

      Long answer short: no.

      Murray pointed out that Sam’s immediate response to Gilly’s self-deprecation was, “You know how to do a hundred things that I can never do.” Which is true.
      __________

      Which makes for the best kind of relationship: a complementary one.

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    2. “It’s not like a fairytale happy ending by any means at all and I think it’s a really wonderful final season,” she said. “I’m really excited for people to get to see it.”
      ______________
      And comments containing the word “bittersweet” to commence in 5, 4, 3,…..

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    3. I know it’s a recent separation but I do look forward to Sam and Jorah reuniting. They formed a pretty close bond in a short time so I think there could be some very nice pride displayed by Sam while introducing Gilly and baby Sam to Jorah. It may have been too short of a relationship between the two so far for Sam to see Jorah as a fatherly figure, but maybe he does just a little. I suspect Jorah will/would treat Gilly much more politely than Randyll did and that will resonate well with Sam.

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    4. Sam seriously needs to give her credit for the “Prince Raggar” discovery…then Bran will put two & two together and realize that the WW are coming for their Craster-sired half-brother! It’s that simple! 🙂

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    5. Aaww…

      Anyway, what I like about Gilly is that she presents an other side of “strong, independent wildling women”. Not all are fierce shieldmaidens like Ygritte, but they can be just as strong – even more resilient, since Gilly is alive whereas Ygritte is not.

      Sam’s and Gilly’s love story is the best in the show after Jaime and Brienne, and more fulfilled atm.

      Hannah Murray is perfect as Gilly. I only need to see a picture and I hear her voice.

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    6. I not only love Gilly and Sam, but love Hannahs performance and her take on the character. Also note that she is positive in her comments about the ending. There is hope, just like Pandora’s box.

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    7. I loved the panel with her so much. And I love that you posted this photo, from a scene she touched briefly on–speaking on working with baby actors, and how utterly perfect his reaction to Samantha Spiro (Melessa Tarly) was. I watch GoT with a close friend who chose not to have children, has zero interest in them, and is usually annoyed by them on film, but she loved that introduction.

      My only regret from Con is that I didn’t work up the courage to go stand in line and publicly ask Hannah Murray a question. Maybe I would have managed the day before, when I was cosplaying as Cersei and in full power mode… 😉

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    8. She seems a wonderful person – and I love her approach as Gilly! She and Sam make an adorable couple. I’ve allways felt that Sam would somehow play an important role in the story – which was confirmed last season, but I think he (and Gilly/baby) will be equally important next season. :))

      As for the fact that there won’t be a fairytale ending – we expected that much, even if I would wish otherwise!

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    9. Semi-off topic: Hannah Murray is the only GoT actress I often don’t recognize in real life. She’s quite beautiful.

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    10. Sandra:
      Wasn’t she just reading what Sam had already transcribed?It’s not like she discovered it.

      She was. Sam told Bran that he had transcribed the High Septon’s diary, so he had gone through that one already. To the viewers, for the viewers, it just felt like she found the information since they used her to toss out the info to us. It didn’t mean much to Sam when he transcribed it or when she read it at the time. Although, one would think that as learned as Sam is and growing up where he did that he’d know the secret marriage between Rhaegar and Lyanna is very important information in itself even without knowledge of Jon yet. I guess it’s not something to get twisted about though… They got to it in a good way with he and Bran piecing it together for us.

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    11. Clob,

      Right. This is a silly debate. He already transcribed it. She didn’t know what a word meant so for the sake of the TV viewer this was more dramatic. She didn’t actually discover anything.

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    12. Sam and Gilly are such rare characters in ASoif / Got in that they are genuinely nice and haven’t done bad things for power. Whilst I don’t expect a fairy tale ending I will be shocked if they are not both survivors.

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    13. Ten Bears:
      Semi-off topic: Hannah Murray is the only GoT actress I often don’t recognize in real life. She’s quite beautiful.

      Fully agree, she is a very attractive lady. If you like her work she is also in the Detroit movie which came out last year and plays a very different character so well, proving her acting ability is also top notch.

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