Being killed off of a hit TV show has got to be a gut-wrenching experience—both for the messenger tasked with delivering the news, and the actor who is learning that he or she will not make it to the next season. While readers of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series knew that Robb Stark's days were probably numbered on Game of Thrones, Richard Madden—the actor who played him—decided to keep himself in the dark about the books as part of his preparation for the television role. But that didn't stop fans, or the internet, from telling the Golden Globe-winning actor that his reign as King in the North would be short-lived.
In an oral history for Entertainment Weekly, Madden, Martin, actors Michelle Fairley and Oona Chaplin, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and director David Nutter reflected on season 3's penultimate episode, "The Rains of Castamere," which is better known as "The Red Wedding episode."
While discussing his preparation for the role of the eldest Stark child, Madden explained that he read Martin's books, but did so as the seasons of the show progressed, so as not to know what might happen to him next. But before he was ever told that he would not survive the third season or had a chance to read A Storm of Swords, the book which details the events of the Red Wedding, the fate of Madden's character was spoiled for him.
"A thousand people spoiled it for me before I had a chance to pick up the third book," Madden said. "I read [the books] season-by-season. I don't want to preempt where Robb is going and that's what I've done since the show started. I also made the fatal flaw of Googling. So that kind of reinforced what people were hinting—saying that something terrible was going to happen and giggling."
Although Madden knew his death was coming, that still didn't lessen the blow. "I cried my eyes out, completely—as did a lot of the crew and other actors," the actor recalled of the day they shot his brutal death. "It was very emotional."
While we likely won't see Madden in the upcoming season (unless he gets resurrected by the White Walkers), there are surely many more heartbreaking scenes to come when Game of Thrones returns for its final season on April 14, 2019.