Challenges, challenges, challenges — that’s all 24-year-old Richard Madden talks about. Well, perhaps not all, but the word “challenge” certainly features heavily in our conversation — 10 times, to be exact. He also talks quickly, with the kind of endearing enthusiasm that comes from being a young actor whose star is very much on the rise, particularly now he has landed the biggest role of his life as Robb Stark in HBO fantasy drama Game Of Thrones.

The hype will fully hit when the new series — based on George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels, and starring Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Sean Bean and fellow Scots Iain Glen and James Cosmo — begins on Sky Atlantic next week. It’s a landmark role for the young actor, and one that could make him a household name, given the runaway success of other HBO shows such as The Sopranos, Rome and The Wire. So, is he nervous about the possibility of fame?

“That’s a good question,” says Madden, who grew up in Elderslie, near Paisley. “I’m not really letting myself think about that side of things. I’ve thought about it in a productive, ambitious way — which is, hopefully, if the show is good and my performance is good in it, then it might open other doors for me to get more work and keep progressing as an actor. In terms of getting recognised …” He trails off.

Madden had an early taste of fame as a young teen in children’s TV series Barmy Aunt Boomerang. “It was on a completely different scale,” he continues. “But, among my peers, I went through ‘being known’ for a couple of years — and all the great and bad things that come with that. It was strange to be ‘that kid from television’.”

The experience, he says, taught him what might happen after Game Of Thrones. “It set me up to try to embrace everything that comes. I’ll take it in my stride, whatever happens.” For now, though, he just wants to keep things grounded: he hopes that future recognition from Game Of Thrones, if and when it comes, is down to an appreciation of his work and will help him “become a better actor, by getting more diverse jobs”.

Madden had a steep learning curve in the past. After joining the local youth acting school, PACE, to “get more confidence before going to high school”, his talent was spotted early. He was scouted for his first acting role at the age of 11, when he played alongside Jonny Lee Miller in the 2000 cinema adaptation of the Iain Banks novel Complicity. Madden played a young rape victim, an experience which “didn’t bode well for high school,” he says, and led to bullying. It was a complex part for a child.

“It was strange dealing with issues that, at 11, I didn’t understand. You know that rape is a bad thing but, sexually, you don’t understand the violation of it,” he remembers. “But the good thing was I got to meet interesting people. I started working in a profession and had responsibilities like an adult. People had to speak to me like an adult, and I didn’t want it any other way. I didn’t want to be treated like a child because I was performing and doing my job just like the next actor was.”

Madden says he instantly loved acting. Despite this, the pressure at one point got too much — although it certainly wasn’t from his parents (his father worked for the fire service and his mother was a teacher’s assistant). “I was about 15 and I felt I had to stop after … experiences,” he says, hesitating. He is clearly referring to the trouble he received at school which was, he says, “quite difficult to swallow … But at 17 going on 18, I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I knew that I needed to do acting as a job, and I wanted to do it more than anything else.”

He attended the Royal Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow and never stopped working throughout, taking time to appear in theatre roles both in Glasgow — at the Arches and the Citizens Theatre — and in London. Since then, he has worked with the National Theatre of Scotland, the Royal Shakespeare Company and, in 2009, appeared in BBC Scotland drama Hope Springs. Today, he says, he can’t imagine himself doing anything else.

The fact that there was never any pressure on him to follow acting as a career is what makes his choice of profession interesting, he says. Acting requires “self-generating motivation. You need to have the ambition, the desire and the drive to push yourself as a person.”

As we’ve already established, Madden doesn’t seem to be driven by the possibility of stardom but by a genuinely earnest desire to hone his craft. For him, life experience equates to “more honest performances”; and the actor takes his role choice very seriously. “Doing jobs that are completely different to the last thing I did pushes me as an actor to change as much as I can. It would be easy for me to stay in a similar vein of characters or jobs, but I’m drawn to challenging myself.”

Game Of Thrones has, in dramatic terms, allowed Madden greater freedom with his acting and, as Robb Stark, a chance to experience a character who grows and changes — much like him. “My character is changing from a boy into a man, and I suppose I’m doing the same thing,” he muses. “Professionally, I’m getting a lot of big responsibilities put on me and I love the challenge of it, but I put a lot of weight on my career: where I want it to go, what I want to do and who I want to become as an actor.”

Any pressure on Madden, it seems, comes from the man himself. He eats, sleeps and breathes every role. “I end up in a zone and I love that. It puts me in a really productive, creative place where my focus is completely on the work. It is a challenge, but one I thrive on. I feel like I have a purpose when I’m working.”

But with such professional dedication, his personal life suffers. Madden hasn’t been in his flat in London or seen his friends for a month, he tells me. How does he get a balance? “I don’t know if I do, to be honest,” he says. “I have a fantastic family and great friends, so we try to keep in touch as best we can. If I get a day off, I come straight back to London to see my friends or up to Glasgow to see my family. I’m still learning that bit. My parents are proud; it’s good I’ve got them.”

The actor also has two “very supportive” sisters, although “it was hard for them being children when I was the kid on TV,” he concedes. “I would’ve hated me if I was them. I probably wasn’t the best brother.”

Now, it is usually his sisters who are first to tell him if he’s made it on to another list in the media. Madden was named as one of Esquire Magazine’s Hottest Stars for 2010 and won Most Stylish Male at the Scottish Style Awards in 2009. “It’s flattering, and I say thank you, but I don’t take it too seriously,” he laughs. “I like clothes and fashion. It’s a hobby for me and I really enjoy being part of it, so it’s nice when people say: ‘He can dress quite well.’”

Madden’s other hobbies include horse-riding (after the many hours he spent learning the skill for Game Of Thrones), film and theatre. “Everything in my life links into my profession, and that’s how I like to enjoy it,” he says.

He’s tight-lipped on upcoming projects, but they include, he says, a “dark comedy drama” and a “Shakespeare monologue” for Sky. “I’d like to get back on the stage soon,” he adds. “I’m reading some great work. I’m getting to experience everything about this industry and I feel independent — in control of embracing it. I’m taking every opportunity I can and riding this wave.”

Interviews From 2011

Site Information
Mantained: by Ana.
Since: February 14, 2019.
Host: Flaunt.
Contact us: Twitter

Richard Madden News is an unofficial, non-profit fansite. We have no affiliation with Richard Madden himself or his team. All copyright is to their respective owners. No copyright infringement ever intended. Please contact us (via DM on our twitter) if you want us to remove anything that belongs to you.

Real Time Updates

Richard Madden NewsAll rights reserved to its owners