Bodyguard induced him a starring but he hasnt always been cozy as the conduct. He talks about bullies, his inner fat boy and new Elton John biopic Rocketman

For some luck actors, there are instants when their job unexpectedly alters into a higher gear. The privilege component comes along, the world notifications, and boom! their whole life is different. This happened to Richard Madden with Bodyguard, in August last year. He played the tight-mouthed, tight-muscled David Budd, personal minder to Keeley Hawes‘ residence secretary, Julia Montague, in Jed Mercurio‘s six-part BBC One thriller, and the country travelled bananas.

Bodyguard was great TV- controlling, unpredictable, sex, with a crazily OTT finale- but none has been possible to prophesied the furore it would generate. It was a national event, achieving the BBC’s largest drama gathering for a decade. Social media was aflame every Sunday, with much of the hot centred on Madden, his good looks and his stoic “Ma’ams”. There were weaves devoted to his eyebrows, as well as other parts of his anatomy. By the final escapade, he had been modernized from” ex-GameOf Thrones guy”( he played Robb Stark for the first three series) to potential James Bond.

Yet all this hype and bluster happened while Madden was busy doing something else. That something was Rocketman, the Elton John biopic. Madden plays John Reid, Elton’s first administrator and one-time lover, and the write necessitated him to sing and dance, neither of which are part of his natural skill set. So while Bodyguard was on, he was getting up to jazz-hands standard, while wearing a pair of 70 s Cuban heels.” I adored those ends, in the end ,” he says when we meet.” A double-breasted suit and a big Cuban heel. I felt quite sharp. They gave me a little of a wiggle .”

With Keeley Hawes in Bodyguard. Photograph: BBC

Madden knew that Bodyguard was doing well exclusively because his mum preserved communicating him pictures of newspapers and periodicals.” Like,’ You’re on the coating of this one, and this one, and this one ,'” he says cheerfully( his natural accent is Bodyguard Scottish , not GoT English ).” It was nice, but it was also,’ Please stop moving me this because it freaks me the eff out .'”

Six months on, his schedule is choreographed down to the minute.” That abrupt loss of time ,” he says.” Everything runs away with you. I’ve been really busy, yet there’s still more request. You run with it, but it’s like, OK, we’re doing press for Bodyguard in America, and now we’re doing press for awards stuff, and then there’s the actual gifts, and then more and more. And everything reels into each other, so then you haven’t been in your house for two months .”

With his Golden Globe. Photograph: WireImage

That must be weird.” I don’t mind, really ,” he says.” I don’t like my house that much. It doesn’t suit me. It’s a little three-bedroom family house that I bought because I thought that was what I should do. Mostly, it’s my mothers’ house. I should have got a really seductive one-bed loft in Clerkenwell .” He was trying to be sensible, but stardom was beckoning.

Madden has had a taste of this all-consuming busyness before: with Game Of Thrones, in his early 20 s, and even before then, when he was cast, aged 12, in a BBC One serials called Barmy Aunt Boomerang. So, he says, he knows enough for the shift in status not to go to his head- and he can cope with the attention. When he was in Game Of Thrones, he had a woman come up and simply bellow in his face. What did you do?” I “ve been waiting for” her to stop, and then requested her if she required a schmooze .” He smiles, a little ruefully: what can you do?

Anyway, Rocketman. I’ve only been allowed to see a taster, but it examines splashy and fun, with full-on musical figures; at one point Elton and the gathering levitate in the middle of Crocodile Rock. Taron Egerton plays Elton, and Jamie Bell is Bernie Taupin, Elton’s pal and lyricist. Madden hasn’t seen the movie either, which moves thoughts ticklish, but we press on.

Rocketman has had some review around whether straight performers should play lesbian divisions, so I question Madden about this.” It’s a really terrible road to go down if we start restricting people’s casting based on their personal lives ,” he says.” We have to focus more on diversity and having everyone represented, but I’m too a firm adherent in the best actor for the portion .” Madden has had high-profile actor girlfriends in the past- JennaColeman, Suki Waterhouse, Ellie Bamber– so I premise he’s directly, but some weeks after our interrogation, he’s linked with US actor Brandon Flynn, which would certainly flummox the commentators. He steadfastly refuses to talk about his private life, speculation or not.

With Taron Egerton in Rocketman. Photograph: David Appleby

Madden has met Elton-” A very interested and interested humanity, just lovely “; he was at his house the other day. He adored working with Egerton and chairman Dexter Fletcher( who also steered the final leg of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was fired) since they are both” so educated. And that’s how I are keen to, as cooked as is practicable, so we get on determined and we can simply play. Even with dancing, the point is to prep to limbo so that I don’t think about it and can get on with telling the story .” Madden clearly had recreation on Rocketman and misses it to do well. But after a while we return to Bodyguard.

He cherished constituting the succession, he says, but it was tough. It battered him, physically and mentally, because he was in so many panoramas( sit saying nothing, tensely defusing rockets, wheeling around in bunked with Hawes and in a gondola pretending to be shot at, which was technically touchy ). He’s self-deprecating about his work in the appearance-” Fortunes of attention acting. Epoches of it. Or simply four sheets of’ Ma’am’s”- but when I press him, he says he’s proud of an early panorama in which Montague requests Budd about his personal life; his marriage is under strain and he is separated from his young family. He likes it because he could have played it so that the gathering could see Budd’s turmoil, but he didn’t. He played it mean and straight. Not likable.

“Likable is the actor’s flaw,” he says.” It’s something I’ve tried to shake off over the years. Most actors want to be liked and we want to construct our task beautiful , not clunky and stilted. But that isn’t always the best way .”

It didn’t work, though, did it? The not-likable bit. Having so many beings fall in love with him must be strange, specially when he was evoked to be playing an antihero.

‘ Likable is the actor’s flaw. It’s something I’ve tried to shake off .’ Photograph: Paul Farrell

” I wasted my 20 s playing Romeo ,” he says.” Twice, literally, and then versions of it. So I was glad to move into my 30 s[ he’s 32] and be incorporated into a home where I might be the villain. I’m used to playing a person with a few cases bad properties. With that, you think,’ What has stirred you this direction ?’ and you justify them. But what was interesting with Bodyguard was realising that … sometimes parties are bad. Or they’re good, but they convert. This character was recreation because he’s manipulative and snide in his tactics, and a motherfucker. You’re being obscurity, and you’re not justifying it. I experienced playing that .”

Madden prevailed a National Televisionaward and a Golden Globe for his concert. When he received the latter, he went up on stage, received the award, went backstage, all stimulated,” And then “theyre saying”,’ Just walk up these stairs .’ I go up and I’m in a room with about 200 journalists .” He answered questions for hours.

Madden is a modern actor: he knows what’s may be necessary for him, all the promo, the glad-handing, the turning up. He once called Cara Delevingneunprofessional for not taking such things earnestly,( she was contemptuous on morning TV, while promoting Paper Towns ), pointing out that he did six weeks of interviews after playing Prince Charming in Cinderella, and was asked” the same eight questions “. As far as he’s concerned, if you can’t do that with prayer, you shouldn’t bother.

Working, wreaking, cultivating. Is that all he’s about?” Not at all !” he asserts. He went to the after-Globes defendants with sidekicks (” I did get proper drunkard “), including Gemma Chan, who was there for Crazy Rich Asians.” We were both like,’ What the fuck ?’ She appreciates her movies elected, I won an accolade. One years ago, we were sitting in my house believe we were never going to work again and now we’re at these mad bestow ceremonies. It’s a headfuck .”

With Jenna Coleman at Glastonbury in 2014. Photograph: PA

Madden has a big friendship group of actors and is often photographed at Glastonbury festival-” my favourite neighbourhood”- having a laugh, in the thick of Game Of Thrones friends such as Kit Harington, Rose Leslie and Alfie Allen. Despite his grace and gratefulness around his success, a part of him would like to chill out and do what he really experiences, which is to read the papers on a Sunday, listen to Frank Sinatra( Sinatra At TheSands is his favourite album ), or flee to somewhere wild, forget about exercising, drive lovely vehicles, maybe even get drunk. But that’s not happening right now.” I don’t have busines desire ,” he says firmly.” I have life ambition .” It’s just that his career is taking him to good regions at the moment. He tells me he’s thinking of moving to LA.


Madden’s acting savvy is not the result of a showbiz background. The midriff juvenile of three, with an older and a younger sister, he grew up in a small town in the west of Scotland. His father was a firefighter, his mother stood dwelling until Madden was 11, when she got a job as a coach in his old primary school. His mothers were “hippies”, he says, and their live was pretty open, with acquaintances ever piling in for big-hearted vegetarian dinners. Madden expended a lot of time outside, in the lumbers behind their room. He has two or more harms: he establishes me where he shot his dad’s old-fashioned breeze pistol and blew off part of his digit, then managed to wreck the same finger when he nailed a wooden plank to his skateboard, then gate-crashed it.

Aged 12, with Toyah Willcox in Barmy Aunt Boomerang. Photograph: BBC

He got into acting aged 11, when he connected a class to help with his shyness. One of his first jobs was a TV adaptation of Iain Banks‘s novel Complicity. In it, Madden is so young as to be almost unrecognisable, with eyebrows that nobody would obsess over. The difficult thing about that job was that his reference was raped. He certainly wasn’t traumatised by the role, but it didn’t clear life at institution easy. Then he got the leading part in Barmy Aunt Boomerang( Toyah Willcox played the eponymous aunt ), so he didn’t really go to school much between the ages of 11 and 13, and when he went back, he strove. He wasn’t academic, plus he had a problem with teachers who didn’t take progenies seriously. His mothers were egalitarian, and as an actor he’d become used to grownups listening and holding him obedience.” I always had this great interaction with adults ,” he says.” But at academy it was different, and I wasn’t having a good time with having been participating in the telly. I’d lost a bit of the euphorium of it. Acting wasn’t good for my life then. It’s like the opposite thing to stirring sidekicks. It’s the one thing to ensure you won’t have any .”

Never the sportiest of minors, he’d put on weight through on-set catering and became a target for bullies. He tells a great tale about his one and only fight:” I was really fat and this boy used to always give me abuse ,” he says.” And I said,’ Right, I’ll fight you at lunchtime’ to get it done with. And it got to the end of PE, and it was time to fight, and he says,’ I’ll just go and get my lunch and then we’ll fight .’ And then he walked away. And five minutes later, I was like,’ No. Fuck him. I’m not letting him get his lunch. We’re going to fight .’ So I start accusing after him with 50 minors behind me.

” I find him at Tasty Bites with his rotation and sausage. There’s a big crowd around us, and I’m just about to swing my first ever punch, in my first ever fight, and I feel this hand on the back of my blazer. I get dragged downwards and threw on to the bonnet of a Renault 105, this old piece-of-shit car. It’s our vehicle. And it’s my mum who’s grabbed me. She got a flat tyre on that street, on that day, saw this crowd of people, gone over and met me. Inconceivable! She went mad:’ What “are you doin “? Don’t you be fighting at school .’ And it saved me because no one ever contended me again. They were like,’ Oh, your mum will come .'”

Photograph: Paul Farrell/ The Guardian. Styling: Helen Seamons. Grooming: Charley McEwen at Frank Agency expending Elemis. Photographer’s assistant: Tom Green. Styling assistant: Lily McMurray. Clothes( from top ): check clothing,, and President’s shirt,; pink dres,; cream clothing and shirt, All spouts, Chair,

He tells this story in a way that really obligates me laugh- like the write for a short film- but it’s also interesting. Not because he was bullied, but because he stood up to the bully. There was self-esteem somewhere under the shyness. Anyway, he spare no effort to plod through academy. When he was 16, he realizing that he missed behaving, so he went back. It was excruciating, as his confidence had taken a battering, but he continued and applied for drama school when he was 18.” If I’d miscarried, I would have reapplied the next year ,” he says.” I couldn’t do anything else .”

He get in and immediately lost weight-” I didn’t want to be the fattest son in drama school”- chiefly by cutting out carbs. He still does this if he has to get into shape for a role; that and going to the gym, which he does first thing, because he wants to get it over and done with as he receives it so boring.

” I don’t like the watch of me in the mirror ,” he tells me, and I feel him. He doesn’t have the body language of someone who does. Even though he’s never short of romantic interest, there’s something in Madden that doesn’t feel handsome. It come off in his comments about himself- like when he says that his favourite epoch for men’s dress is the 50 s:” I desire a high waist, always good for a fatty chap .”

With Michelle Fairley in Game Of Thrones. Photograph: HBO

He is handsome, of course, though in a low-key way. But crikey, he actually lights up in front of a camera. I see this the next day, on the photoshoot. The stylist and photographer are using a famed 1974 Terry O’ Neill hit of a louche David Bowie as a reference point, and I’m not sure Madden will go for it. The suit is pink, with gargantuan shoulders and tent-like, pleated trousers. But to my astound he affection it and immediately sheds himself into reputation, chucking moves and determines in front of the shutter. Abruptly, I get a glimpse of how brilliant Madden is at what he does. He’s totally committed.


A couple of weeks later, we speak on the phone. The busines change is continuing and he has moved to Hollywood:” The beach is nice to visit but I’m a Celt. Factor 50 every day .” Plus, excitingly for him, as he has to drive everywhere, he’s got himself a Jaguar S-Type.” It’s very sexy, very loud, with a bit of snarl … You can’t write that, I sound like a proper twat. But I cherish automobiles, I adoration driving .”

With Lily James in Romeo And Juliet in 2016. Photograph: Johan Persson

He sounds very happy, despite everyone being cross on his behalf because he wasn’t nominated for best performer at the Baftas.” It’s not holding me up at night ,” he says.” I’m really stimulated for Keeley because she’s nominated, and that the show is, more. I’ve been very spoilt already .” Plus he’s too busy to worry about it. He’s landed a part in Sam Mendes‘s first world war drama 1917, about which he’s aroused, even though it means that, just as he moves to LA, he’s going to have to come back to England to film.

The only tiny worry on the horizon, if he’s honest, is whether he’ll be able to go to Glastonbury next month. He’s desperate to organise his planned so that he can. And yes, he camps-” In a lamentable one-man tent that’s too hot when it’s hot and icing when it’s cold, and I come out with icicles on my beard”- although this year he’s thinking he’ll lurch himself somewhere near his sidekicks, who all glamp.

The last-place season “hes been gone”, in 2017, he found himself in the Lovebullets tent-” Wild Elrow circus madness, dancing to Fatboy Slim, brilliant “. He wants to have the same experience this year. I don’t have the heart to tell him that his life really has just changed, and now he’s far more famed for that .

* Rocketman is released on 24 May.

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