Scottish actor Richard Madden may be best known for his portrayal of Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, yet that's not his most acclaimed role to date. Earlier this year, Madden won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama for his role in the political crime drama Bodyguard. Currently, he can be seen on the big screen in the Elton John biopic Rocketman, and is also reportedly a front-runner to take over the role of James Bond from Daniel Craig. Not bad for a 33-year-old actor (his birthday is today).
Next up, Madden will star in the new Sam Mendes film 1917, and is rumored to be acting in an upcoming Marvel film, The Eternals. Since his original rise to fame with Game of Thrones, Madden has managed to keep himself extremely busy. To celebrate his birthday, here are a few things you might not know about the star.
1. Richard Madden started acting as a way to get over his shyness.
When asked by Flaunt magazine in a 2015 interview what he'd be doing if he wasn't acting, Madden said that he'd probably be a "shy, fat kid living in Scotland with no girlfriend." Though one might think he was making a joke, Madden explained that he was incredibly shy growing up and gravitated toward acting as a way to overcome this by joining a children's theater. The actor says he is still shy now, though it clearly hasn’t stood in the way of his success.
2. He didn't make a fortune off of Game of Thrones.
Although Game of Thrones turned Madden into a household name, the actor didn't make a fortune playing the King in the North. "People think I am [rich], because of Game Of Thrones, but you know, when I signed up for that I was 22," Madden told The Sunday Times. Though he did not disclose exactly how much he was paid for the role, we can assume it was nowhere near the whopping $500,000 per episode stars like Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke were making toward the end of the series.
3. Madden is uncomfortable with his sex symbol status.
From his Game of Thrones role to his part in Bodyguard, Madden has quickly become an internet obsession. But the actor isn’t a fan of that kind of attention. “I worry sometimes about it affecting my job," Madden said in 2018. "If people go, ‘Oh, he’s that hunky thing,’ it undermines that actually I’m an actor and I’m trying really hard to be good at it.”
4. Madden's nether regions caused a problem on the set of Cinderella.
Madden may be uncomfortable with being one of the internet's boyfriends, but playing Prince Charming opposite Lily James in the 2015 live-action remake of Cinderella only increased his visibility. Having worked on a show like Game of Thrones, making a PG-rated movie was a new experience for Madden—and one that introduced him to a rather odd issue on-set: trying to keep his bulge hidden.
While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Madden explained the measures the filmmakers had to take to make sure his look was PG-rated. "The prince can't have any genitalia, apparently," Madden said. "We had about two days of screen tests where we had to try lots of different jock straps, just to make sure we can't see anything through the trousers."
5. Madden learned about Robb Stark's fate from Google.
With a beloved franchise like Game of Thrones, it would seem that even if you hadn't read the books before portraying a character, you could pretty easily find out about their arc. So for Madden, his technique of reading George R.R. Martin’s books as they were filming was definitely a fail. The actor recalled:
"A thousand people spoiled it for me before I had a chance to pick up the third book. 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."
6. Madden's mom wasn't happy about his Bodyguard sex scenes.
Madden is no stranger to filming intimate scenes, but it looks like his parents will never get used to seeing their son naked on-screen. While appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss Bodyguard, the host asked the actor if his mom and dad were happy to see his bare butt in the series. Madden quickly explained:
“No, they're never happy about the butt. I've made a few mistakes in my time, which is neglecting to tell my mother that there's going to be a sex scene in the show. And then I get kind of a hysterical phone call of, 'You must tell me and your father! I was watching it at the time and my cup of tea, I nearly spilled it!' And then she covers her eyes.”
7. Madden's family has an awkward nickname for him.
While appearing on The Late Late Show With James Corden, Madden explained the awkward nickname his mom gave him: Little Dick. "She loves it. It's her favorite gag," he said. "My father's also called Richard—which translates as 'Big Dick' and 'Little Dick.' Thanks, mum!"
8. Madden made a surprising friend in Elton John while filming Rocketman.
Currently, Madden can be seen playing John Reid, Elton John’s first boyfriend and manager, in the recently-released Rocketman. While promoting the film on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Madden revealed that he became friends with the real Elton John after making the movie, explaining it was surprising to find out how “shy” and “gentle” he actually was.
9. Madden is "thankful" he was killed off on Game of Thrones so early.
Madden recently revealed that he is grateful to be one of the actors killed off early in Game of Thrones. Madden spoke about the experience in an interview with Amy Adams for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, saying:
“It was such a hard thing to finish because from first pilot to my death was five years. But five years was a great time to be on the show. It helped me so much with my career and experience. I learned a lot from shooting 30 hours of television. You really start to learn the trade doing that. And then I was thankful to leave it.”
Three seasons was enough for Madden, and he praised the actors who made it until the end. “Give these guys some medals, because that is a marathon,” he said.
10. Madden did, however, cry like a baby after his final day of filming.
While Madden may have the benefit of hindsight now, he was in a very different emotional state following his final days of filming on Game of Thrones. In a 2018 interview with GQ, Madden shared that he cried so hard on the flight home from the set that he actually frightened other passengers. “I was sobbing and covered in blood," Madden said. "I looked like I’d murdered someone and got on that flight which, in fact, I hadn’t—I’d been murdered."