It’s months after the “Game of Thrones” cast finished shooting Season 2, but Richard Madden is once again caught up in the drama and emotions of his character, Robb Stark.
Sitting in a gray chair in Santa Monica, Calif., he inhales quickly and deeply, his face contorting into what can only be described as a heartbroken expression, after AccessHollywood.com asks him about Catelyn Stark’s betrayal of her son.
In Sunday’s episode, the grieving Lady Stark confirmed she undermined Robb by secretly releasing Jaime Lannister (under the protection of Brienne), and sending him on a journey to King’s Landing in hopes of trading with the Lannisters for her daughters.
After a pause, Richard begins to respond.
“It kind of pushes him over the edge,” the Scottish actor says of the bold move by Catelyn, which has vast-reaching consequences, not only politically, but on Robb’s moral compass.
And with another woman – Lady Talisa (Oona Chaplin) – now making a very (ahem) strong impression in Robb’s life, a continuing war, the trouble with Theon Greyjoy at Winterfell, and that tiny little thing called a betrothal (to one of Lord Frey’s descendants) all part of the picture, Richard admits plenty of drama is on the way for the final two episodes of the Season.
AccessHollywood.com: You’ve talked about how honorable Robb is… but then his mother just betrays him in episode 8. How does that change him?
Richard Madden: It’s like the last straw for him. Everything’s happened with Theon. He literally feels so alone and his mother’s the only one there and I know he’s got other characters around him, like Roose Bolton, that are his kind of right hand [men], but his mother is supposed to be the one that’s got his back. Even though she’s a leader in her own right, he’s the King, he’s the one that needs to drive this and she can’t undermine his game plan and she does and I think that, for Robb, [this] is the kind of final betrayal. It hits him so hard and hopefully I’ve conveyed that in a way that’s reserved enough that you get him just really feeling so alone and I think that’s one of the biggest switching points into him kind of finally being his own man, and he realizes that he is truly alone and that hurts, but…
Access: He finds an ally… it sort of opens the door for Talisa to become the No. 1…
Richard: Woman in his life, yeah, there is that. There’s that there and I think what’s difficult, you’re gonna see, you see it, even after this betrayal, he still can’t help himself, but go to his mother and speak to her. He needs her counsel and I think that’s even harder, because in a world where you can’t trust anyone, she was the one woman he could and she’s betrayed him. So I think Talisa steps into that role, not so much as his advisor or anything like that, but someone that hasn’t betrayed him yet, hasn’t destroyed any part of him. If anything, [she] has helped him work out who he is more and her doing that has been as useful as his mother’s counsel all this time… helping him become a man and Talisa’s there and treats him like one. But, he’s had to work and earn it with her. And so, I think it’s very difficult at that time for him and his mother.
Access: In these scenes… is this some of the hardest work you’ve had to do?
Richard: For sure, for sure, I think the scenes — especially with Catelyn — are not only my favorite scenes to work on as an actor because I love working with Michelle Fairley so much…but I think now, on screen, we have such a great dialogue, we can get on set and really delve into subtleties and details and these push and pulls. But those scenes have been the hardest because Robb’s this very young man, with a lot of pressure, pretending to be an older man and a leader the whole time and he has these scenes with his mother that are very difficult to play, when you’re playing the love for a mother and the need for a mother, while also trying to not let that come in because you also need to be your own man and a leader. It’s difficult for me to try and pitch that and get it just right. I don’t want to go too far in either direction. So they’re really hard to play, but also that’s where I have my most fun with Michelle Fairley. As actors, we can try and make this really subtle, detailed dialogue with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss’] awesome writing that gives us the space to do so.
Access: How does Catelyn’s betrayal set up the last two episodes of the season? His mom has stabbed him in the heart, and he’s kind of got a girlfriend…
Richard: Yeah, it kind of pushes him over the edge… One of the kind of great characteristics about Robb [is] his head and his heart are on the same page and they’re always in the same direction. He has such a strong moral compass and I think this situation with Catelyn…
Access: Resets it?
Richard: Resets it. It’s skews everything and he’s kind of — he’s done with trying to do everything right all the time, and even when he is trying to do things right, he gets betrayed by his mother, whose been the one to tell him, ‘You need to do this, and do that,’ and by the end of this season, he’s left in a place where he’s like, ‘How can I trust your advice? How can I take your counsel, when you’ve done something so stupid that you could’ve screwed up this whole war for us?’
Access: When the child becomes the parent.
Richard: Yeah. Exactly.
Access: Did you, Richard, when you were doing these scenes… go home at all and dream about them?
Richard: No joke, yes. Two strange things happen — I do wake up with dreams of stuff… dreams of the scenes that you’re going to do and dreams of the scenes you’ve done and variations of them. But… one of the weirdest things, I think, sometimes, and I’m not ‘method’ in any way, that’s not my style of acting or whatever, but it’s when I kind of wake up in the morning and I’m kind of thinking thoughts, but I’m thinking them in Robb Stark’s accent (laughs). That’s weird. I’m like, ‘What’s that voice in my head? Why is it not like my Scottish accent?’ And [those are] the kind of strangest things where they kind of filter in where you’re in a place so much — you’re on set all the time and then, at night time, we’ll go to the bar and it’s me and Michelle and we’re talking about the work we’re doing in the day and then the work we’re doing the next day, or I’m having a drink with one of the directors and we’re planning out what’s going on the next day. So, it doesn’t leave you while you’re working and yeah, it filters into all these strange aspects of your life.
“Game of Thrones” continues Sunday with the “Blackwater” episode at 9 PM on HBO.