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Interview with Richard Madden

One of the key deviations from the novels this season is that Robb Stark, played by Scottish actor Richard Madden, will be followed in his journey through the narrative when the book pulled away and kept him in the background.

In past interviews, the executive producers have said a large part of the reason was that they loved Madden and his presence on the show, and they wanted to see more of him. It’s difficult not to see their point: handsome, capable of playing stalwart and naive by turns, and charismatic, Madden draws the eye whenever he’s on screen portraying Eddard Stark’s son, who is now the King in the North.

We had a chance to speak with Madden on the phone while he’s in L.A. doing the press thing, and decided to ask him questions (and, in one case, make a proposal) based on what fans submitted to us. See the results below!

Interview

I know you’re in LA right now, but you were in Miami recently?

“Yeah. I was in Miami, and before that Rio, and before that Mexico, and then before that New York. We did this big tour.”

I used to live in Miami, actually. How do you like it?

“It’s beautiful, it’s just like sunshine and heaven. It was my first time in Miami, and I want to go back to it, to paradise, get a yacht and just sail around.”

Some Brazilian fans wanted me to thank you for your visit to Rio, actually. Reading some of the reports, it sounded almost like Beatlemania.

“Not quite, not quite! No, it wasn’t as crazy as that, but we did have fans come out to our hotel after they found out where we were. I never expected we’d be in Brazil and having people ask us to sign books which we’re filming a show about.”

How is the experience of getting all that attention?

“I don’t really look so much like I do on the show, so I don’t get recognized that much. It’s nice, I can keep a bit of anonymity. But the nicest thing is that if anyone does recognize me and stop me, it’s not just because I’m in a TV show—it’s because they really like it. It’s the biggest compliment, that they want to come up and shake my hand and thank me for being part of this show that they love. It’s very complimentary and very flattering for me and everyone in the show.”

One of the stories that came out of Northern Ireland at TitanCon—which is happening again this year in September in Belfast, and they wanted me to pass on to you that if your schedule allows they’d love to have you as a guest—

“Cool!”

One of the stories was a claim about a dance that you did, involving Diet Coke. Does that ring any bells?

”[Laughter] There might have been a bit of that! I think it’s always funny that when we’re setting up for a scene and we’re in a forest, and you’re wearing fur and armor and there’s swords, and then you turn around and there’s someone off-camera drinking a can of Diet Coke. It seems, like, we’re doing a couple of commercials for Diet Coke. I find it very funny. And it’s not easy lifting up a can of Coke when you have these heavy cloaks.”

I’ve read your remarking on how heavy the costumes are.

“Yeah, they are. It’s one of those things that, at the start, it was quite difficult to deal with. But now it’s turned into one of the best things for me as an actor. The costume is so layered—it takes some 40 minutes to put it on, and I need help because there’s all these straps and buckles and things to clip on. I love it, because it really affects my performance and helps me as an actor. It changes the way I walk, the way I breathe, the way I stand and hold my posture.  At 4 AM, putting on the costume can be a killer, but it’s really useful for me in helping to build the charater of Robb.
“Just don’t ask me to get on a horse. If you’ve watched Game of Thrones, you won’t see many people getting on to horses. You’ll see people about to get on it, it cuts away, and then they’re on it. It’s not a graceful act.”

Part of the story was that your Diet Coke dance was done in part to amuse Oona Chaplin, a new member of the cast. How was it working with her?

“Fantastic. She’s so creative and free on set. She’s a beautiful actress to work with. I’m so glad she’s the one who got the part—I can’t imagine anyone else playing it. We have this great on-screen dialog, it’s sparky and interesting. She has all these qualities that I think pulls Robb to her. She’s a kind of light in the darkness. She really plays this part awesomely. I hope you guys really like what she does this season.”

I know Talisa is her actual name. Now, I know last season there were a couple of name-changes mid-filming last season, like Rakharo starting as Jhogo. Was she Jeyne at the start of filming, or was her name already changed before cameras started rolling?

“I think she was something else, but by the time we started shooting it was Talisa. She has a second name which ... well, I had fun trying to pronounce that one each day on set. That was a good laugh, trying to pronounce that one. But yeah, you know, there’s going to be changes to the story, but they all come from the essence of the books.”

Here’s another one from a fan: Amy Barrick proposed marriage to you—

”[Laughs] No, she didn’t! [Laughs some more]”

She did! She really did, though she had a laugh afterward. But I doubt that’s the first or last proposal you’re going to get.

“It’s the first one I’ve ever received. I’m very flattered.”

Another one several people wondered about is if you have a favorite character (besides Robb).

“I love watching Arya. I love reading her chapters, and I love watching Maisie nail that character. She continues to wow me with everything she does on screen. I can’t wait to see how she develops, and how Arya develops with her. That’s, for me, the most exciting character. Of course there’s Tyrion and I adore watching Peter’s work, but I love Arya’s character, she’s fascinating to me. She has this essence of Ned as well as her own, feisty heart.”

Speaking of Ned, do you feel that Robb sees himself as being in his father’s shadow?

“I don’t think he feels like he’s in his shadow, but in my head Robb always thinks, “What would Father do?” You can see this with Robb trying to work out what his father would do in these siutations, while knowing he has to be his own man. For Robb, Ned was the best man he’s ever met, and he wants to try and live by those rules he was brought up with. At the same time, Robb could have done with another five years at least with his father, to learn how to be in this position, especially if it was just to be Lord of Winterfell. He could have done with a lot more time to try and learn. I don’t think Ned and Robb were ever emotionally close in the same way as we are with our fathers today, but Robb was still close to him in many ways and looked up to him a lot.”

What’s been your most challenging scene so far in this series?

“I think we’re going to see it later on. The scenes with my mother, Catelyn—played by Michelle Fairley—are the scenes that for me were hardest, and also the msot enjoyable. It’s Robb dealing with his mother, and trying to be a leader and a king at the same time. It was a very difficult thing for me to play. I want to get the youth and naivete of Robb, but also his strength. We’re going to start seeing these fractures in the relationship between him and his mother. This whole thing started with a desire to get her family back and rescue Robb’s father, and then a bit of revenge was in there as well. Now Catelyn’s mind is still there, getting back the girls, but Robb is leading 20,000 men, who all have mothers and fathers and sisters, and he can’t hold his family in higher regard than those who follow him.

“That’s very hard for Catelyn to swallow, because she wants the family reunited, while Robb has bigger responsibilities that he didn’t ask for. Those scenes with his mother are very difficult. Robb wants that as much as Catelyn does, but his responsibility is much bigger now that the picture has changed completely.”

Having mentioned revenge, do you feel that’s part of his character?

“I think revenge has been a part of it. I think there’s a spark revenge, you see it in Robb’s eyes whenever Joffrey is mentioned. It’s a very sore point with him. But something I respect about Robb is his maturity, despite his youth. He’s always pretending to be a man the whole time, because his enemies and the men who follow him have to see him as a man. But at heart, he’s still a very young man who has naivities and weaknesses and fears that he can’t really share with anyone. I think he has to try and hide that revenge, and not let it take control of him. It’d be easy for it to drive him, but if he does that, he’s not doing his job as a leader. He can’t be driven by hatred and revenge.”

What else do you have on your plate besides Game of Thrones?

“Fingers crossed, I’ll be doing a movie at the end of the year and the start of next year—boringly, I’m not talked about it—but there’s something in the cards that I’m really excited about. But my focus is truly to season 3 of Game of Thrones. Season 2 gets even better, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where we go with season 3.”

Thank you for your time, Richard, and have a good time in Los Angeles!

“It was a pleasure speaking with you, man. I love your website. Thank you very much.”

 

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