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With Game of Thrones’ second season barreling to a conclusion with Sunday night’s finale, one of the series’ biggest power players seems more out of the game than ever.
Robb Stark (Richard Madden), King in the North, and his army saw none of the action during the Battle of the Blackwater; he’s separated from nearly his entire family and, when circumstances might be at their most dire, he’s emotionally preoccupied with healer Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin). As Madden sees it, mommy issues are partially to blame.
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“I think that he sees this other woman as a breath of fresh air,” Madden tells The Hollywood Reporter, “especially because his mother and him start to have such a challenging relationship. And nearly every moment that you see of them together, is every moment they are together. You aren’t missing a lot of off-screen with them together.”
And last time viewers saw them, they saw quite a bit. Robb finally took comfort in Talisa after essentially jailing mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) for releasing Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The rest of Robb’s family isn’t even in the picture, and as much as he does want to, Madden thinks a reunion with half-brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington) would be most helpful to his character–especially after being double-crossed by Theon (Alfie Allen).
“We’ve seen, as the season goes on, how much betrayal there is in all the characters and all the people around them,” he says. “If Jon and Robb were together again… there’s a huge bill of trust there, and I think that it really kills both of them that they can’t help each other. … It’s really changed Robb and put him kind of alone that he has no contact with Jon or his other brothers.”
It could only get darker, with both sisters now missing in action and his two youngest brothers believed to be burned to death in Winterfell. Those revelations won’t likely do much to better Robb’s relationship with Catelyn.
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“Catelyn is very focused on her family,” says Madden, “but Robb is now aware that he’s got 20,000 men behind him. That’s 20,000 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers. He can’t hold his family in higher regard than those 20,000 families. Robb wants nothing more than what Cateyln wants, but he needs to focus on the bigger picture and that’s where they’ve really started to have problems.”
That sense of responsibility is one of the few aspects of leadership that Robb isn’t faking. Madden thinks his character is still just a boy from Winterfell, barely holding it together.
“If I’ve played the part right, hopefully we see these moments where that mask slips off and you realize that underneath all this pretending is just a normal young man who is barely out of boyhood, pretending his way through this war,” says Madden. “He’s acting all the time.”
Looking to the third season, Madden knows the trajectory his character takes in the books — but he’s not sure if that’s how it will play out on the series.
“I kind of know certain things that are coming up next year, but I have no idea what [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are going to do,” he says. “I’m very aware that we are doing the TV show, not the books, and they are different beasts at this point.”
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