He’s got a new show, Oasis, and a no-spoilers policy for his ex-castmates.

Poor Richard Madden. As we all know, his beloved and noble but doomed Game of Thrones character, Robb Stark, was murdered. Now he has to wait for the public to decide whether his new Amazon show, Oasis, will go to series. Every year during Amazon’s pilot season, viewers watch and rate pilots to help the streaming service decide which ones will prevail. All the series’ cast and crew can do is wait for the network to make the call. It’s not exactly the same as frantically trying to guess which of your political enemies—or family members—will take your head off with a sword, but it’s just as nail-biting as an episode of GoT.

“It’s strange,” the Scottish actor muses over the phone. “You put everything into this one episode and then wait to see if you’re lucky enough to go.” Voting ends Friday, and then it’s a pretty quick turnaround, he says. “I believe I should find out by next week. I hope so!”

Madden has been working on a few other projects, but for right now, his eggs are in the Oasis basket. The actor has been mulling over the scripts for the possible first season and getting to know his character, Peter Leigh, better—although that’s turning out to be rather a challenge. Based on Michel Faber’s 2014 novel The Book of Strange New Things, Oasis catapults us into 2032, after an environmental disaster on Earth. The plan is to relocate everyone to another planet, but the colony there isn’t exactly proceeding apace. Peter, a chaplain with a mysterious past, is asked to leave Earth and go to the colony, where it seems that something totally inexplicable—even supernatural—is taking place.

If you’re a Thrones buff, you’ll be used to major cliffhangers, but the Oasis pilot ends on such a surprising note that even Madden is dying to know what will happen next. When he was called in for the episode, which was shot over four weeks in South Africa and Namibia last fall, he was given to understand that Peter was a man of faith who had recently lost his wife, but that was it.

Even though the series is based on Faber’s novel, Madden says it’s “more of a launchpad for us than a guidebook.” So, not many clues there. “It was kind of terrifying,” Madden admits. “You have no idea where it’s going.” But he’s certain there’s so much more to come. Oasis, he says, is the sort of show he would personally watch: “We’re going to very different places. We’ve got so much potential for what he could be and what’s inside the man. In the pilot we get to know him as one thing, and hopefully we’ll get to go back and see who he was before.”

So, just who is he? “I was attracted to his absolute strength and his absolute volatility,” Madden says. “We don’t really know what his past is, but we know he’s been a very different man in this life. That’s what excited me…. You’ve got this man of God who’s got to keep it together, but you’ve also got this man who’s lived on the street. I think that’s going to all come tumbling out uncontrollably. It’s interesting and terrifying at the same time.”

Peter is a stark (sorry) contrast to the characters Madden has played in the past. From Game of Thrones to Cinderella and Medici: Masters of Florence, he has typically selected parts that involve ornate or period attire and swords. Peter, however, is much more grounded and real—despite the fact that he’s living in the future. “I’ve done so many period things,” Madden says. “I’m done with swords and horseback for a minute. It’s nice to be in something that’s in the future and feels modern.”

Oddly, Peter is also one of the first characters Madden has ever played using his real accent. “I had to act in my own voice,” he laughs. “That was quite strange. It seems like a weird thing to say, but it’s hard to find your voice within your own voice. Usually my characters have an accent—when it’s your own voice, you feel more naked and you have to get over that obstacle.” 

Knowing what he now knows about Robb’s fate, does Madden check with showrunners to make sure any character he plays isn’t going to be killed off early on? “Absolutely not!” he replies. “That’s what keeps it exciting. It’s better not to know, I think. On Game of Thrones I knew I was going to die, but I deliberately didn’t read the second book when shooting the second season because I didn’t want to cloud any of my decisions as an actor. It’s better not to know these things—then you have a much more dramatic, interesting journey for an audience to watch.”

He does still watch Game of Thrones, all these seasons after Robb’s tragic demise. (He’s also currently bingeing Big Little Lies.) In fact, he can relish the show in a totally different way now. “That’s one of the best things about being dead—I don’t know what’s going to happen next, so I can enjoy it. When you’re reading the scripts, you always know what’s going to happen. My friends are still on the show and they’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m filming this, and this happened.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t give me any spoilers, please!’ At the end of the day, I want to enjoy it.”

But GoT season 7 hasn’t started yet, so for now Madden’s predominantly invested in whether we’ll get to hear the whole story of Oasis. You can help by watching and rating it right now. “We’re only just warming up,” Madden says. “We’re only just scraping the surface of what this whole world is. Where we go is going to blow people away. So I’d say, ‘Guys, please be generous with it because I want to make it.'”

Interviews From 2017

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