Scottish actor Richard Madden, 25, has broken into the spotlight by playing Robb Stark on HBO's hit show, "Game of Thrones." As the second season of the show continues, Stark, the eldest son of the beheaded Ned Stark (Sean Bean), has been declared "King in the North," and has launched war against his family's sworn enemy, the Lannisters, who hold the Iron Throne. In this Q&A, Madden talks about his passion for the books, his character's spectacular demise and what life-lessons one can learn from the show.
How did you first get involved with ‘Game of Thrones’?
I got a call from my agent to come in and do a reading. I kind of got psyched when I read about it. I thought, let me get into these books. I started the first book and I couldn’t put it down. I read the book about nine times. I delved into it as much as I could. I was very aware, right away, that the books had this big fan base. I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes who had ownership over that character. I tried to play the character as honest as I could.
‘Game of Thrones’ hit a ratings high on Sunday, with 6.3 million viewers. Are you surprised at how intense fan interest has been?
I don’t know how surprised I was. When I got the Season 1 sketch, I knew the show would be very good. The writers didn’t patronize me as an actor or patronize the viewers. They don’t write a line for something that can be done with a look. We ask a lot of the audience. We ask them to keep up and look for the subtleties. David and Don [writers and creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss] worked amazingly hard, and the actors, there’s no weak link the chain. Everyone’s at the top of their game. It’s a really great story and it’s very relatable.
High-quality television shows can really tell a story in much longer form than movies can. Do you think TV has surpassed film as the superior storytelling medium?
I look at the show like a 10-hour movie. There’s a lot of actors and you have so much more time to tell a story and get to know a character. ‘Game of Thrones’ couldn’t be a movie. There’s too much in it. You couldn’t do it justice. You have to let everyone into this world. Plant the seeds early and get the payoffs later.