THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM GAME OF THRONES 3X09
For Madden, one of the worst things about Robb’s death was how close Arya came to reuniting with her family. “That really cut me up even more,” he says. “With every episode Robb’s been further and further from the people he loves. For Arya to be so close to getting to me, I think that’s what really hurt because that’s what we all wanted — to get the family back together — even if it was only one of us coming back.”
He also recalls the heartbreaking moment shared between Robb and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) right before they die, saying, “It’s Robb Stark essentially saying goodbye to his mother and giving up.”
But he does try to put a bit of a positive spin on it (if that’s at all possible). “Rather than it being something really bad, it’s a moment of tragedy and utter relief, actually,” Madden explains. “These characters have fought and fought and fought and it’s finally over.”
And as horrible as Robb and Cat’s deaths are, “I think Robb Stark dying in that way is one of the best things that HBO and Game of Thrones does so beautifully, and that’s just rip these characters hearts out in front of you,” Madden says. “This is so sudden and violent and horrible. The way I and the writers have tried to build him up, there’s no other way we could have killed him.”
Finally, Madden admits that it was difficult for him to say goodbye after finishing up on Game of Thrones.
He admits, “I got straight to the airport and got on a plane because I didn’t want to be there anymore. I cried the whole way. I was the crazy boy on the plane crying.”
The Stark heir remains undefeated on the battlefield against the Lannisters, yet has had more romance and drama than on-camera action scenes in the epic fantasy series. That might change in season 3. “He gets his sword in his hands,” actor Richard Madden teases. “But the thing with Robb is he never wants to kill.”
When the season opens, Robb’s army is in desperate shape. Winning battles has been easy; it’s winning a war that’s a problem. Struggling to defeat the Lannister forces and avenge his father’s death, Stark’s camp-life is a mess.
“He’s got all sorts of plans in place in order to actually win his war, but he’s running on empty at the moment,” says Madden, whose character last season married a kind field medic (Oona Chaplin). He doesn’t know where his brothers or sisters are, or if they’re still alive. He’s constantly chasing the Lannisters and they’re constantly running from him. His own men are kind of revolting. So they’re exhausted, they’re starving and he’s at the end of his tether.”
Plus, Robb’s still holding his mother (Michelle Fairley) as a prisoner for openly defying his orders — so that’s awkward. “He comes to an understanding of why she did what,” he says.