Ushered out of Winterfell and the violent world of “Game of Thrones” with the much-remembered so-called Red Wedding episode, Scottish actor Richard Madden is a long way from Robb Stark in the Golden Globe-nominated “Bodyguard.”
A breakout hit in the U.K. in August before arriving on Netflix this fall, “Bodyguard” earned a series nomination in the TV drama category and an acting nod for Madden, who portrays Sgt. David Budd. A PTSD-afflicted veteran of the Afghanistan war, Budd finds himself in a tangled web of terror plots and conspiracies while weathering conflicted feelings about being assigned to protect a politician who was an advocate for the war.
Below, Madden talks a bit about his experience on “Bodyguard” as well as those pesky, tabloid-born James Bond rumors that have been swirling in the U.K.
So, how’s your morning going?
Kind of mad, yeah. Kind of crazy.
Where were you when you found out about your nomination?
I’m in a studio in London, a voice-over studio because I’m recording a documentary. So it’s taken me a little bit of coming down to be able to get back in the studio.
Did the news catch you off guard?
It absolutely floored me. I never even dreamed -- I didn’t even think that would ever be an option. I’m kind of overwhelmed.
The show was a bit of a departure from that little knights-and-dragons show where a lot of people last saw you — I was so happy you survived this whole season, by the way.
[Laughs] Thank you.
Was that sort of change of pace part of the appeal for you?
Yeah, part of it was I just loved the script, and the character fascinated me – a kind of man I’d never seen before on-screen, this hero character that’s so broken and damaged in all his own ways. I think what sums it up for me is in Episode 6, after everything’s finished and he, our hero, asks for help. I think that’s something that’s new and different we’ve not really seen with characters like this before and with leading men. There’s something about that that filters through the character, this juxtaposition that’s made him who he is. That’s what’s made him so interesting for me to play.
Television and movies are filled with heroic military and ex-military characters, but we rarely see the emotional toll of that life. That seemed to be a key part of this show.
I think we tried to. I’ve seen a lot [of shows] with PTSD in them, and it can be misconstrued, it can be portrayed in a way that’s not as accurate as we’d like. And we touched on it in this show and we tried to do it in a delicate, genuine, honest and compassionate way. It’s not a case of someone drops a glass and you drop for cover and have all these crazy flashbacks. Sometimes it’s something you live with, day in and day out, and that can be a genuine anxiety to lots of other factors.
Especially in the early going, there seemed some ambiguity around David Budd and his intentions in his role protecting a political figure given his experience as a veteran.
That’s what really excited me about him was this constant gray zone that he lives in, and that I think is the most accurate way of portraying humans. It’s never as clean cut or one [way] or the other, and people change. That’s why I enjoyed playing him and working with the writer on playing these two strands and letting the audience try and work him out as much as he was trying to work out himself.
“Game of Thrones” had its own run with awards shows. Were you able to go to the Golden Globes when the show was nominated?
I’ve never been to the Golden Globes. That’s going to be quite strange.
Particularly coming from the U.S., it seems like any actor who reaches a certain level and can wear a suit well starts getting James Bond rumors thrown around. Has that been an odd experience as well?
It’s been really flattering to be involved in that conversation. It’s such an iconic role that so many people have an ownership over, audience members and actors who have played that part. Even to be considered in that conversation is very flattering.
Do you have a favorite Bond?
[Long pause.] Sean Connery. He’s his own thing.