He spent Season 3 torturing Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy and on Sunday, the name of Iwan Rheon’s “Game of Thrones” character was finally revealed.
Known at the start of the season only as “Boy,” Iwan was revealed to be Ramsay Snow, the twisted bastard of Lord Roose Bolton.
Keeping the secret all season long provided a little fun for the Welsh actor (and musician) when he received questions from a few curious “GOT”-loving friends.
“You can be very horrible to them and just give them enough to get their interest going,” he told AccessHollywood.com in a new interview. “It’s just something I’ve had to do and I think it’s really gonna help the impact of the reveal of the character as well.”
While book readers were able to spot Ramsay from the start, the impact of the reveal was likely felt by television watchers on Sunday. Lord Bolton’s egregious betrayal of King Robb Stark at The Red Wedding, combined with his bannermen severing Jaime Lannister’s hand, and his sick spawn Ramsay’s mind games, torture, flaying and mutilation of Theon sets up House Bolton as one of the most dangerous families in Westeros heading into Season 4.
In our new interview, Iwan told Access why he was so determined to keep Ramsay’s identity a secret until now, what it was like filming his sausage eating/Theon re-naming (“Reek”) scene for the finale, and what he thinks will happen next now that Balon Greyjoy has received his Theon package.
AccessHollywood.com: Executive Producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff joked that they have a ‘say nothing’ boot camp that they put all the actors through to keep secrets. What do they really do, because everyone is so good at keeping things quiet?
Iwan Rheon: I think everyone’s so proud of what they’re doing and the job and the fact that they get to be in a wonderful TV show, but I think it’s kind of a pride to keep it as secret as possible. I think, as much as people wanna know, it’s better for them not to know and so when they do watch the show, it has so much more impact. … But, obviously not being able to say who my character is, is a bit of a pain in the arse (laughs).
Access: Where does Ramsay come from in your imagination?
Iwan: I had some really great chats with Dan and Dave about it. … One of the keys for me was joy he gets from doing what he does. … He really enjoys it. You could have played it in different ways and he could have been like, just a vicious, horrible, no joy, like dead inside [man], but he’s not, he’s really enjoying it. This is what he likes doing. … He was conceived under the hanging corpse of his mother’s new husband, through rape, and she had to bring him to Lord Bolton because she couldn’t cope with him. He was too much and he killed his own brother, supposedly. … So it’s just this — he’s a psychopath, like completely. Void of empathy. But it’s just the joy, and I think that was the key for me was to really tap into the joy of it, which is really dark. [But] it’s all playing. It’s not real.
Access: I remember interviewing Richard Madden in Season 2 and he said while he was filming some tough scenes with Michelle, he’d dream about his character, Robb Stark, or hear Robb’s voice in his head when he was awake some mornings. … Did Ramsay come home with you at all?
Iwan: No. I’m really glad. I’m really good at really going for the character and using everything I’ve got to go for it, but then to be able to let it go because I think that’s important. … He’s not latched on to me, which I’m really glad [about] because it’d be very nice being Robb Stark every day — he’s a great guy, but Ramsay is not such a nice guy (laughs). I don’t think it would benefit my life so much if I went ‘round behaving like him.
Access: Do you think Ramsay was fascinated by Theon or was it more the torture he was fascinated by?
Iwan: I think he is interested in Theon because of his history. Ramsay is a bastard, so he’s had to struggle all his life for the attention, whereas Theon, he was a ward at Winterfell. He wasn’t a son, so he’s an outsider as well. And I think that kind of thing fascinates him and I think he sees a very weak person that he can destroy, basically. I think he senses that Theon is weak in many ways and I think Ramsay really identifies that and it’s an easy target for him, and it’s still enormous fun (laughs).
Access: Were any of the torture scenes hard to film?
Iwan: It was quite weird doing the finger, cutting off the finger, flaying the finger, but it was strangely technical when we were filming it… which is quite a relief because I was worried as to how I was gonna feel doing something like that because it’s horrific. The scenes are tough to do because they’re very dialogue heavy, particularly the ones we’ve done in the torture chamber, and to keep that concentration all day. But Alfie’s a trooper and he gives it a hundred percent every time and I hope I’m doing it for him. It’s been a really enjoyable experience to work with him.
Access: Alfie’s known for having worked out really hard for ‘Game of Thrones’ Did any of his fitness obsessions rub off on you at all? Did you spend time together in the hotel gym?
Iwan: Um, no. Not really. We spent some time in the hotel bar (laughs). Does that count? Is that working out? I don’t think so.
Access: Pints can be heavy.
Iwan: Well, yeah, we lifted a lot of pints, so I think that’s exercise.
Access: So tell me about filming the actual scene where you re-name Theon ‘Reek’? Was that tough to film?
Iwan: It was tough to film in the sense [that] I had to eat a sausage for a whole morning — [a] big sausage with mustard on it all morning. And bless the guys, they gave me a nice sausage, but after you’ve eaten sausage for about four hours, you’ve kind of had enough. … I wanted it to be quite sexual… because he’s kind of like [a] weird little asexual thing, but he’s not asexual. But he’s weird. … I wanted it to be erotic, almost, and it was weird doing that and I’m right in his face and it’s pretty brutal what I’m doing to him. It was a hard day’s filming… and Alfie, bless him, up on that cross all day. It’s not nice for him.
Access: You end the season in charge of the North, by proxy. What do you think Ramsay’s first order of business would be?
Iwan: I guess he’s kind of [waiting] for maybe some form of retaliation from the Greyjoys, so preparing himself for that. I feel that the only person in the whole world that he would listen to [is] his dad, so I guess he’s waiting to see what he does … and waiting to see what the Greyjoys decide to do. Bring it on, I would say (laughs).
Access: Obviously George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished the books. I’m kidding here with this one, but how about Ramsay for the Iron Throne?
Iwan: Oh God, no! No! Keep him away from that thing. No, I don’t think so. I’m not sure how much ambition he would actually have. I don’t think things like that really matter to him. He’s just happy going hunting people and that kind of thing. I don’t know maybe. Maybe.
Access: You did British comedy series ‘Vicious’ after you did ‘Game of thrones.’ Were your co-stars Ian McKellen or Derek Jacobi interested at all in this project? Did you talk to them at all about ‘Game of Thrones.’
Iwan: Yeah, [I] talked to them a bit. They were just interested because they hadn’t really seen any of it so they were quite interested and they were quite interested in finding out what character I was playing, I suppose.
Access: You kept your character name a secret from your friends, but what did you tell them? They are both Sirs.
Iwan: I know. I was like, ‘He’s a complete psychopath!’ They were like, ‘Oh dear!’ I think they were quite interested because my character in ‘Vicious’ is completely different. … He’s a really nice guy. He’s pretty much the polar opposite to Ramsay. So it was quite nice, actually to do that straight after because it was a really fun thing to do.
Access: I know you are a musician and singer. I have heard Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) can sing… and Rory McCann (The Hound) is good on the guitar as well. Have you thought of forming a ‘GOT’ wrap party band? You guys could do covers of…
Iwan: The theme tune. We could do the theme tune! … Natalia Tena [Osha] is an amazing musician. I’ve seen her band. They’re brilliant.
Access: So at a premiere or wrap party then…
Iwan: I’d be up for it. I’m up for doing a little ‘Game of Thrones’ band. It’d be quite weird match of people. I think Tom, who plays Jojen plays bass maybe.
Access: And drums too. He did in ‘Love Actually.’
Iwan: Well perfect. We’ve got a band. We’ve got a band.
Access: Filming for Season 4 is around the corner. How excited are you?
Iwan: I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with. It’s going to fun, hopefully. Yeah, back in the next one. Can’t wait! Bring it on.
Access: Do you think Ramsay is going to get even more wicked? Can he?
Iwan: I’d imagine so, yeah. I think he can. I think he’s got a lot more to give (laughs), unfortunately, to whoever he’s giving it to.
-- Jolie Lash