“I didn’t sleep properly last night,” says Richard Madden, drinking a pint at his local. “I’m thinking it’s because I knew I was going to have to talk about this.”
“This” is an event that concerns Madden’s character in the HBO series Game of Thrones. If you’re not fully up to date with the show, scram. This is your spoiler alert. In an episode watched by half a million UK viewers on Sky Atlantic in June, Madden was killed off savagely and with so little warning that some (honestly, there’s video proof) leapt off their sofas.
In the aftermath Twitter went all capitalised and intense. US talkshow host Conan O’Brien called it “the most stunning thing any of us have seen in television. Maybe ever”. Madden, months later, says he’s still approached by the traumatised. “Just yesterday a guy came up to me, crushed. He asked, ‘Why would someone do this?'”
It’s a question, really, for George RR Martin, the American author whose novels have been adapted by HBO. Martin’s fiction takes place in a cruel, medieval-like world, where murder is commonplace. The author seems to revel in it, killing off popular, morally spotless characters knowing his readers (with their soppy, modern notions of fairness) won’t see it coming.
What it all means for those cast in the TV version is that when new episodes are hacked out of Martin’s long books, and scripts are distributed, “you get a lot of terrified actors,” says Madden, “tearing through the pages going ‘Do I die? Do I die?!'”
Madden, 27, who grew up in Elderslie, Renfrewshire, 15 miles from Glasgow, knew his character was doomed from the outset. He had worked in theatre (Romeo at the Globe) before being cast as Thrones’ youthful lordling, Robb Stark, in 2009. Senior producers admitted to Madden, early, that they couldn’t wait to get to the filming of his slaying. And on his first day on set, crew and cast approached, asking, “My God, do you know how you’re going to die?”
He managed to stay ignorant of the details for a few years. “I made a deliberate effort not to read ahead.” Madden’s girlfriend is the Doctor Who actor Jenna Coleman, so theirs is a household well practised in spoiler containment. One night, though, Madden risked a Google search …
Toronto is in the final push of getting things ready for TIFF and it looks like the red carpets will be even starrier, and premieres even bigger than previously thought. With over 80 new films announced today, there won’t be a moment to spare this year at the festival, and even more peeks at the upcoming films have arrived.
Meanwhile, things go period with “A Promise” (“Une Promesse”), the latest from filmmaker Patrice Leconte. Starring Rebecca Hall, Alan Rickman, and Richard Madden, it tells the tale of a tragic, torrid romance. Here’s the full synopsis:
Set in pre-First World War Germany, Patrice Leconte’s venture into English-language filmmaking chronicles the simmering love triangle between an ailing factory owner (Alan Rickman), his young bride (Rebecca Hall) and his protégé (Richard Madden).
There aren’t exactly a lack of Cinderella adaptations. From the musical versions to Disney’s animated take, even the live-action Drew Barrymore re-telling, everyone has their favorite.
Disney wants to add one more to the slate, and called on Thor director Kenneth Branagh to bring the impoverished, unlucky heroine to the screen once more. Fans attending Disney’s D23 Expo on Saturday got a chance to see a pre-taped segment with Branagh, who teased audiences with his plans for the film and the story and how he plans to honor the beloved animated classic.
Set to hit theaters in March 2015, none of the cast or crew could attend, since they’re about to start production. Sean Bailey, president of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Productions, promised “we will be faithful to the original material,” but added that they hoped to elevate it as well, showing the politics of the royal court while following Cinderella from her time as a young girl to the fateful night when she’s given that dress and those slippers and heads to the ball.
In the pre-taped segment, Branagh showed a screen test with the new Cinderella (Downton Abbey’s Lily James) wearing a makeshift blue gown meant to represent the one she’ll wear to the ball. As the Prince, Richard Madden of Game of Thrones will be a “funny, smart, sexy prince. A great complimentary match for Cinderella,” said Branagh. Cate Blanchett’s wicked stepmother will be at turns wicked, but also witty, and Helena Bonham Carter’s Fairy Godmother will be “warm and tender and funny.” Branagh says she’s the “voice who lets us know that all will be well.”
Branagh is concerned with getting the iconic scenes right — from the transformation of the pumpkin into the elaborate carriage, to Cinderella’s entrance into the ballroom, to the moment when she realizes the slipper does, in fact, fit. If Branagh’s excitement is any indication, this newest take on the girl who loses her slipper might just be a new classic after all.
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.”
Richard Madden has joked about the devastating effect his intense horse training for Game of Thrones had on him.
The actor portrays Robb Stark, King of the North and Lord of Winterfell in the sprawling fantasy drama, which follows seven families as they battle for control.
Robb spends a great deal of time atop his trusty steed, so had to learn not to be afraid of the animal before the cameras started rolling.
“When I got the part I went into full-blown horse training – Robb has grown up with horses, so I started going riding four times a week. I couldn’t walk properly for three months. But now I’m really confident on the horse,” he told Radio Times magazine.
Gwendoline Christie portrays Brienne of Tarth in the mythical show, which is based on the novels by George R. R. Martin. The character is one of the best swordsmen in the country, which is what attracted Gwendoline to the role. She has relished playing such a strong woman.
“To be involved in something that is genuinely challenging gender stereotyping is what I’ve always wanted. I don’t have to worry about whether I look attractive. Brienne looks like a bag of dung – that’s the character and that’s fine – so I can focus on other things,” she said.
“People used to come up to me and say, ‘Excuse me, how tall are you?’ [She’s 6ft. 3ins.] Now they say, ‘Excuse me, are you in Game of Thrones?’ And that is delightful. I can die happy.”