HARPER’S BAZAAR – Richard Madden has a theory behind why he’s perennially cast in period pieces.
“I think it’s the curly hair,” he says in his thick Scottish accent with a twinkle in his eye, a plan forming in his mind. “Maybe I’ll shave my hair off and I’ll start getting modern parts all the time…”
This focus on his hirsuteness isn’t totally without cause; he’s currently promoting his new film Cinderella, in which he plays the squeaky clean, clean-shaven Prince Kit, an experience which he says involved “being shaved twice a day” by an on-set barber. The results make the constant hair removal worth it – he looks far younger than his 28 years and a million miles away from the role that made him famous, Robb Stark in HBO’s hit TV series Game of Thrones.
Unlike his co-star Lily James, Madden had precious little to work with in terms of his character; in the animated version, he doesn’t even have a name. This meant he had to work with director Kenneth Branagh to come up with a three-dimensional man with a back-story of his own.
“I focused on making him a friend, soldier and above anything else a son – Cinderella is primarily a daughter and so the prince was primarily a son,” he explains. “So I focused on that relationship with Derek Jacobi as my dad and brought out all these other elements of his character.”
Indeed, working with Jacobi was one of the highlights for Madden (“I love him to pieces”), while the rest of the stellar cast also made an impression on him.
“It was like a master-class everyday on that set with Cate [Blanchett], Kenneth [Branagh], Derek [Jacobi], Stellan [Skarsgard] and Helena [Bonham Carter]. You understand why they’re movie stars. It’s not just their acting; it’s how they behave when the camera’s not rolling. Ken and Cate have a real compassion and awareness of everyone else around them. You’d think being as successful as they are that they’d be really insular and only concerned with themselves, but it’s the opposite, they’re concerned with everyone. I learned a lot from them.”
His relationship with his on-screen love interest James and director Branagh must be particularly good; he’s signed up to work with them both again in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet.
“I can’t wait to work with Ken again,” he says. “That was a big pro for me doing this job. As soon as we started working on Cinderella I thought ‘I just want to Shakespeare with him’; that’s his ballgame. I’m thrilled to be doing that with him. As for Lily, she hates me, I know she does, but I love her and I’m just waiting for her to get sick of working with me.”
I inform him that his Wikipedia page tells me he’s played Romeo on the stage before (“Oh well if it’s on Wikipedia it must be true,” he quips). What does he think he’ll bring to the role now he’s older and wiser?
“Seven years of life experience,” he remarks. “I’ve actually got a work ethic now, I know there’s a craft to it. I won’t just be running around impulsively like I did when I was younger.”
Before treading the boards we’ll see him following in his television father Sean Bean’s footsteps, playing Mellors in an upcoming adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, as well as playing an American pickpocket opposite Idris Elba in Bastille Day. Both of which meet the criteria for picking his next roles: they’re not royalty.
“I’ve played a lot of royals,” he admits. “I might slow down on the royalty for a little while…” (source)