ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Iwan Rheon on playing Game of Thrones’ biggest bastard

We talk to Iwan Rheon, also known as Ramsay Bolton, 10-time winner of Westeros’s Most F*cked-Up Individual Award

Iwan Rheon on playing Game of Thrones’ biggest bastard
14 April 2016

We talk to Iwan Rheon, also known as Ramsay Bolton, 10-time winner of Westeros’s Most F*cked-Up Individual Award

What’s the secret to playing a sadistic, psychopathic rapist, torturer and murderer?
That’s tricky. I’m written for exceptionally well, so that helps, as does working with great actors and directors. You approach it like any other character and find the truth about them.

Did you study any famous psychos, real or fictional?
When I was forming the character, I loosely had the idea of Heath Ledger’s Joker in mind. And I went for Liam Gallagher’s walk. That sort of swagger.

Part Joker, part Liam Gallagher…
And Dennis the Menace. An evil Dennis the Menace.

Have you ever broken into giggles while chopping off a willy or something?
You’ve got to try to keep your focus, but sometimes, because of the sheer ridiculousness of how evil these characters are, we laugh. That dinner party in Season 5, where we were being so horrendous, everyone was just laughing. There’s so much tension and it’s got to crack sometimes.

What’s been your favourite piece of torturing by Ramsay? 
I think most of his ideas are incredible. Chasing young girls with dogs through the forest is pretty f*cked up. But it’s the mental torture that makes him an interesting character. He’s immersed in this world and he weirdly knows how to do it.

Is it important for a nutter to have a sense of humour?
Yeah. He’s not just evil and doing things, he’s actually enjoying it. You get that sense of fun. I guess it makes it slightly easier for the audience that he’s a bit funny.

Will we see his soft side at all?
I don’t see him softening. I can’t see him donating to any charities.

Are GOT fans masochistic? The show likes to torture them.
I think it’s a brave, different way of storytelling, where you use your protagonists and you build them up and everyone loves them and then you kill them. So people just skip to another character. And there’s a lot of antiheroes, like Tyrion Lannister, who you still love. 

Is part of the attraction not knowing who’s going to die?
That’s thrilling. You have a character like Robb Stark who everyone loves, and everyone’s rooting for, and then he’s dead and there’s no justice. That’s the beauty of the show – anyone could go at any time.

Do you live in constant fear of being knocked off?
Of course. You find out what’s happening a few months before you start shooting. You get the script and that’s when everyone’s nervously flicking through.

Got a favourite GOT death?
There’s been a few. I think Joffrey got me, it came out of nowhere. I like the dragon-related deaths. 

There was the head-crushing death, too.
Oh yeah, that was pretty horrible. And then you have a little girl being burnt at the stake. It’s horrible. It’s relentless, this show.

Anyone you’re gutted died?
A lot. I’d have loved to have done a shoot with Charles Dance. I’ve always been a massive fan, so I was a bit annoyed. It would have been interesting to see Ramsay and Jon Snow meet. 

Nobody believes he’s dead! Not properly anyway.
You’ve got to believe! You’ve got to believe he’s dead, man.

Are you annoyed you don’t get to shoot in the sunny locations?
Croatia, Spain, Morocco – all those lovely warm places everyone comes back from all nice and tanned, while we’ve been perched on the side of a mountain in Northern Ireland freezing our nuts off? Yeah. “Oh, that’s nice. You went skinny dipping did you? That’s lovely. If we did that here we’d die.”

Are you a ‘known crew’ on the town in Belfast now?
Yeah. It’s difficult to miss us, a big gang. People might be slightly overwhelmed, sometimes.

Is constant pestering for storylines the main problem?
Yeah, but I always think, why do you want to know? What’s the point in knowing a massive plotline before you’ve watched the series? You might as well not bother watching it. 

What torture methods would be used if you spilled the beans?
Probably just a simple, quick assassination. You wouldn’t know it had happened. A sniper might just take you out.

Game Of Thrones Season 6 simulcasts at 2am and repeats at 9pm, 25 April on Sky Atlantic. Series 1-5 is available on Sky Box Sets