Robb Stark has been lucky on the battlefield and now he's lucky in love.
On the most recent Game of Thrones, Robb (Richard Madden) and healer Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin) finally gave in to their impulses and tore each other's clothes off in a passion-filled romp. Although fans may have cheered for the hookup, it's not the wisest turn of events for the King in the North who has a war to win and an impending arranged marriage with one of Walder Frey's daughters.
"This is the first time where his heart is so overwhelmingly pulling him in a way that his head says, 'Don't go there,'" Madden tells TVGuide.com. "He's got his duties, he's got responsibilities and he's going to marry this other woman. He knows that this is a big no-no that he can't do this, but his heart is so overwhelmed, it takes him to her and he can't help it."
The actor draws a parallel to fellow Thrones character Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who falls for his hired whore, Shae (Sibel Kekilli). "Love is a weakness with these characters," Madden says. "They can't have it, but on the same hand, if you restrain yourself from love and interaction on different levels, that drives the passion even harder, especially if you find someone who's worth caring about."
Check out what else Madden has to say about his character and watch the exclusive video at the end in which he addresses the patented Robb Stark "sex stare":
Why does Robb fall for Talisa? What does he see in her?
Richard Madden: She's refreshing. She's the one person who doesn't treat him like a king, who questions him and asks him, "Why are you doing this? What will you do after this?" It makes him question himself. What he loves is that if he can justify it to her, then she understands it even if she's coming from such a foreign point of view. She's so alien. He's never met anyone like her that's so open and different and challenging. She treats him just like a man, like a human.
On the flip side then, why does Talisa fall for Robb? She gave him a hard time at the beginning.
Madden: She does. He's had to work really hard, but maybe she falls for him because of the man he is, because he's inherently a good, honest man and an intelligent, caring leader. I think those things might be attractive to her — that he's a man that's genuine in a world where there's so much deceit and violence, that you've got someone there who's genuinely doing something for the greater good and not lust or greed or glory. It's for the benefit of everyone in the kingdoms.
What was it like working with Oona Chaplin, who plays Talisa?
Madden: Fantastic. I did not know her at all before this project started. And I met her and we had our first reading the scripts together and I was so happy that [producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss] chose her. She's an amazingly talented actress but she's also a really fun, creative woman. And she's so fun to have on the set that is not very fun a lot of the time. You know, it's a lot of hard work and the subject matter doesn't leave a lot to joke around, but Oona brings such a good life to the set. Everyone loves her, and we have a good dialogue on set. I think she's a calming influence on me.
What is Robb's biggest strength? His biggets flaws?
Madden: I think those are the same things. His biggest strength is his honesty and his passion and his heart. It comes from such a raw, emotional, grounded place. That also turns into one of his weaknesses because sometimes that overwhelms his decision-making process of what to do. He's had so much pressure put on him. He's really taken up that mantle and run with it, but also coming with that is that now he has to keep on making decisions that not everyone is going to be pleased with. He wants to please everyone, but he can't.
Does he have a lot of his late father Ned in him?
Madden: Oh completely. In Season 2 ... a lot of the time before Robb makes a decision, he thinks what would his father do in this situation? There's a lot of that. Eventually, the thing about this world is that good men suffer for being good and honest.
Now that Robb has stepped up into this leadership position, what's his relationship with his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley)?
Madden: It changes as the season goes on. They're both being pulled in different directions. Catelyn doesn't understand that, you know, we started this war through the revenge of my father and trying to get my sisters back to safety and keep my brothers safe. That is where the war started, and that's where Catelyn's heart still lies, but for Robb now, he's got 20,000 men and it's their mothers, wives, daughters, sons that he has to care for now, not only his own. So that's where the fracturing starts because ... he's got to care about all those men as much as he cares about his own family.
Is there a fun rivalry between you and Kit Harington behind the scenes like, "I'm legitimate; you're a bastard"?
Madden: Not really, but we do call Kit a "bastard" all the time. That's just because we can use that. But it's a shame because we don't spend a lot of time together on set. It's one of these things that we don't get because the characters are so far apart now and that's how it's shot. It's disjointed.
But although he's in Iceland, you were shooting in Belfast with lots of other cast members. Who did you hang out with the most?
Madden: I did spend a lot of time with Michelle Fairley who's my kind of No. 1 person on the show. We have respect for each other as actors, but we also have a real close trust, so that as performers we can exchange notes with each other and be engaged in a way that I think is rare with actors, especially if you've not worked together a lot. But Michelle and I have that intimacy and dialogue and once we get on set, we can snap into something so quickly and get the detail and subtleties in place and push and pull each other.
I imagine there's lots of drinking during your downtime?
Madden: Yes, a lot of drinking. We like beer. It's cold, right? And long days. We spend a lot of time talking about the show and working out our relationship even when we're off set. So it's a long day and then we can have a drink at the bar at night and discuss the day we've had and the day that's coming.
You have quite a lot of costuming layers. Is there something that you love or hate the most about the wardrobe?
Madden: Fur and armor and leather and fur and armor. When I first got it, I was like, "This costume is awesome!" And at kind of your 50th morning at 4 a.m., when you can't dress yourself, you're like, "This costume sucks!" But my portrayal of Robb wouldn't be the same without it. That costume changes the way I walk and changes the way I breathe and changes the way I hold myself. So all of these things are really heavy and are a lot of work, but actually it's really helped me create a character just like it would for Robb. He can't walk in a certain way with a cloak like that, so it really helps me make Robb as realistic as possible that I can be from his voice to his physicality.
When did you arrive in Los Angeles? [Editor's note: This interview took place in April.]
Madden: I was just on this great press tour where I was in New York for a little while and then headed to Mexico City and then Rio and then hit Miami and then L.A. for the next seven days. I've been here before, but I've only spent a little time here before, so I had not yet seen a lot of it. I still have not been to the beach yet, so I'm going to try to hit that when I'm in town, especially when the weather's like this.
Being from Scotland, you're probably not that used to as much sun exposure. Do you have to slather on the sunscreen while you're here?
Madden: [Sun Protection] Factor 50, all the time. And a hat. And even if I have Factor 50 on, I've only got like 30 minutes in the sun before that's me for the day. If I want to enjoy the sun, I need to spread it out during the day: five minutes now and then go back inside, then five more minutes out later. As far as tans, I think the best I get is more freckles and then I go back to being a little bit blue again.
When you were in New York, did you have time to do any fun stuff like catch a show?
Madden: Completely. I didn't get to catch a show, but I got a feel for New York. I got to go everywhere. New York was fantastic from the point of view that I love to walk everywhere. In New York I could do that. L.A., it's a bit more difficult to do that. Here you get funny looks because you're walking. But in New York, I could walk everywhere and really get to enjoy it and go to like Williamsburg and Brooklyn.
What sorts of foods did you indulge in while you were there?
Madden: Pizza. New York is the city for it! It was the thinnest crust. I like chicken, cherry tomatoes and pesto all over it. And sometimes, if you can get it, a drizzle of truffle oil. Really kicks it off.
Check out our video interview with Madden, who weighs in on the Robb Stark "sex stare":
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.