Perhaps no one has had a more famous on-screen death than Richard Madden. We are talking, of course, about the Red Wedding, the iconic season three episode of Game of Thrones, in which Madden’s Robb Stark—then, still a main character of the series—meets his untimely fate, alongside his new bride and mother, in a very bloody and very memorable end. “I think it’s going to be my favorite death,” Madden said. “Full of arrows, and then you know, you get your heart stopped, and then they cut your head off. It’s all fun and games isn’t it, just covered in fake blood and limbs hanging off. Then the fake blood take a while to get off and you’ve kind of got stained red for a while.” Rest assured, Madden soon made his return to the silver screen, as the leading man in Netflix’s Bodyguard, a role for which he took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Series. Here, the actor talks about his on-screen fates, his first kiss, and his crush on Cameron Diaz.

What was the first thing you ever auditioned for?

My first part that I ever did actually was when I was eleven years old. I did a film called Complicity where I played a boy that gets raped and then kills his raper. I think when you’re eleven years old and you’re experiencing or acting in something that’s a sexual violence because you don’t fully comprehend sex, you don’t understand the violence of that. I’m thankful I didn’t understand so much because I think that would’ve been more traumatic to deal with.

Have you watched it recently?

I’ve not actually watched it since I was that age and remember I had to wait until it came out on DVD because it was an eighteen-plus so I couldn’t watch it because I was only twelve years old.

How did Bodyguard come to you?

The Bodyguard script arrived through Jed Mercurio who’s the writer and director I’d work with years before on adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. He sent me this script and asked me if I wanted to play this. This character, which I instantly fell in love with his complicated, morally ambiguous years, and [going] between the good and bad and not knowing whether if he’s either one of those.

The ending was very powerful.

There’s a couple of huge sequences that are hugely anxiety making for the audience and the actor playing the part, which it was at the time. They are quite difficult to shoot because it’s such a prolonged period you have to keep yourself in this high adrenaline, high anxiety state and even when you go home at night and you got eight hours until you go back to work the next day, you can’t drop it because it takes so much energy to summon yourself into that place that you go into standby mode and then you jump back into it again. By the end I was completely exhausted but it’s worth it.

You’ve died quite a few times on screen.

I love a good death and I’ve had a few really good deaths in my time. I think Games of Thrones and the Red Wedding was a pretty good one. I think it’s going to be my favorite death. Full of arrows, and then you know, you get your heart stopped, and then they cut your head off. It’s all fun and games isn’t it, just covered in fake blood and limbs hanging off. Then the fake blood take a while to get off and you’ve kind of got stained red for a while. That was the last Game of Thrones scene I shot, it was the last day on set for the whole crew, and it was the end of my journey for Game of Thrones so emotionally you had everything that was going on with the character, and then yourself where you’re saying, “Okay this is my death on the show and my death with this family and this crew that I’m with.”

Then you played Romeo, who dies also, twice.

I’ve done that twice, at twenty-one and thirty. I think I’ll never play Romeo again. And I did a World War One thing a few years ago and got shot in the head in that one. That was a good death.

What were the Golden Globes like for you this year when you won?

The Globes were amazing for me. That was only the experience that I still trying to catch up with in my head. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I had no idea this was gonna happen. Thanks to my father who made me write something down. He was like, “Have you written a speech”, and I was like, “No, I’m not gonna win this, let’s not bother” and then he’s like, “Just write something in case you do.” I was like, “Fine.” Scribbled it down on paper and fit it in my pocket. I was like, “Thank you Dad, thank you so much.”

Regarding Rocket Man, what was your favorite Elton John song growing up?

I don’t know what my favorite Elton John song was growing up, because it shifts, I mean I go through “Bennie and the Jets” as being my favorite, or “Tiny Dancer,” or “Rocket Man.” I went to Elton in concert and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was a very powerful one.

You dance in the film. What’s harder: a death scene or a dancing scene?

I mean a dancing scene is obviously much harder. It takes months of prep, so I do have to think about the dancing but I’m going to stay away from that for a while.

What was your favorite movie growing up?

My favorite movie growing up, and still is, is going to be Jurassic Park. I watch it like twice a year; it’s my go-to.

Who was your cinematic crush growing up?

My crush growing up was Cameron Diaz in The Mask. I think that was the best thing I had ever seen for years.

Do you remember your first kiss?

I was very, very young. It was behind wall of a neighbor’s garden with a gorgeous red-haired girl called Ally, which is my niece’s name actually, which is nice.

What was your favorite birthday party?

On my 30th birthday, I hired the private room at my favorite restaurant in London and there was me and fourteen friends including my parents.We just had this gorgeous dinner and everyone wore dresses and suits and tuxedos. I kind of felt like an adult for the first time. I wasn’t like in a pub in East London sinking pints, I was like having a fancy dinner because I was thirty years old so I’m an adult now. I think that was probably the only time I felt like an adult in my life.

In your TV projects, you seem to undergo torture or get killed a lot.

I love a good death, and I’ve had a few really good demises in my time. On Game of Thrones, I was killed at the Red Wedding. That was my favorite death: full of arrows and then they cut off my head. I was covered in blood and my limbs were hanging off.

Do you have any surprising secret skills?

No. I went to drama school to learn all those skills, and then I was like, “I ain’t going to sing or dance in films, so I’m not going to singing or dancing class. And I can’t be bothered with the fencing class, because I won’t be fencing.” Cut to: I have been sword fighting for half my life and now I’ve had to sing and dance. This is why you should go to class. Kids: Stay in school.

Interviews From 2019

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