Winter has, indeed, come for former “Game of Thrones” star Richard Madden in his new miniseries for Discovery – “Klondike.”
In the project, kicking off Monday night at 9/8c, the Scottish actor takes on the role of Bill Haskel, an educated young man in the 1890s, who heads to Dawson City with his best pal, Byron Epstein (Augustus Prew) in search of great fortune.
The story is heavily centered on Richard’s performance as Bill, as he attempts to navigate his way through prospecting, lawlessness, love and the danger of men, wolves and the elements.
“Yeah, there is a bit of weight on my shoulders,” Richard told AccessHollywood.com. “It’s kind of strange, when you’re in something like ‘Game of Thrones,’ it’s a big cast and you’ve got so many other factors into it, but you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m actually in quite a lot of this. This is quite strange, but exciting.”
AccessHollywood.com: Tell us about filming in the cold.
Richard Madden: It was intense for everyone – all the crew and everyone, but they’re in their great big warm coats and stuff and you’re in period costume and not only that, but the character, Bill Haskel, when he goes off and starts out, out there, he’s totally unprepared, so the costume reflected that and you are unprepared and you are absolutely freezing!
Access: Now have you and [your ‘Game of Thrones’ friend] Kit Harington exchanged stories, because he filmed in Iceland. I’m going to guess [since you filmed in] Canada, [it was] was colder where you were.
Richard: It was colder where we were and also he has the gift of – because when they shoot ‘Thrones’ there, they only have like four or five hours of daylight to do. So he’s only actually out there for a few hours, whereas I could be out, on the top of this mountain for like 12 hours freezing. But I love that… It’s a thrill.
Access: Bill Haskel was a real man. Did you research him? He had an autobiography, which apparently is out of print.
Richard: Yeah, I got a copy of his book, actually. He wrote it two years after leaving the Klondike with his gold and it’s a fascinating book, actually ‘cause it’s kind of just like a manual. There’s like pages and pages of just lists of things that he was packing to bring with him… it was a manual for mining essentially, of how to do what he’d done. And through that, I kind of got to know a lot about him…
Access: Now most people aren’t going to be able to get ahold of that autobiography like you did, but based on what you read of him, does this stay true to who he was or are we mixing in a little bit of fiction?
Richard: I tried to keep it absolutely true. It’s that kind of gift of – as I said, the book was a bit of a manual so… you know, he doesn’t talk about his feelings to things. He does sometimes, but different time period, different kind of man. But it really informed me and that’s where I kind of—
Access: ‘Dear Diary…’
Richard: (Jokingly) ‘Dear Diary, today was really cold again.’ (laughs) No, it’s not like [that]… It’s like, ‘Some guy stole our bag of sugar so we strung up a rope and we were gonna hang him. But I decided best not to because I didn’t want to kill a man over a bag of sugar, so I just gave him 50 lashes.’ That’s like parts of his book. You’re like, ‘Woah! Ok.’ Things were really different and intense because they didn’t have a law so they kind of policed themselves.
Access: You work with wolves in this, like your last project [‘Game of Thrones’]. Have you gotten used to them now? Are there any tips you can give people about working with wolves, things you learned?
Richard: Do it in CGI instead (laughs), because the wolves are just like big fluffy puppies,
Access: ‘Big, fluffy puppies.’
Richard: Big fluffy puppies. … And I’m doing that scene where I have to — I’m supposed to be terrified and I shout as loud as I can, be as big as I can to try and scare the wolves away, but actually the wolf handler says, ‘Can you not be so loud? It’s scaring the wolves.’ And you’re like, ‘But I’ve got to act this, I’ve got to do it.’ So my advice for working with wolves is don’t.
“Klondike” airs tonight at 9/8c on Discovery.
-- Jolie Lash