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He plays the most sinister villain in Game of Thrones history — and that’s really saying something. Actor Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay Snow Bolton is the HBO drama’s purest psychopath in a land populated by killers; a sadist without moral boundaries who tortures his victims purely for enjoyment. And in season 6, Ramsay is going to change. Oh, don’t worry, he’s still an irredeemable monster, but we will see different sides to him, the actor reveals.
When we last saw Ramsay in last year’s season 5 finale, his bride-slave Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) had just fled his clutches at Winterfell along with Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). We caught up with Rheon and chatted about Ramsay’s storyline in season 6.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know there’s not much you can say about the new season, but what can you tell us?
IWAN RHEON: I get to do loads of different things and show sides to Ramsay that you haven’t seen before. This season fills him out a bit. We pick up in the aftermath of last season when Sansa and Theon have escaped.
His reaction to Sansa fleeing must be interesting …
He’s sheepish. His father is obviously not pleased. Without Sansa, he doesn’t have a much power as having a Stark and an heir. Without her, he is not what he was. He’s still sort of a bastard, really, even though he’s been legitimized by another bastard — as Sansa rightly pointed out. And we start by finding out how Ramsay really felt about Myranda …
What were fans like to you after last season?
People know I’m an actor. Nobody’s been spitting at me on the street. People tend to be quite good, in general.
In a show filled with shades-of-grey characters, Ramsay is totally irredeemable. Is it fun or frustrating that we’ve never seen one positive quality from him?
I don’t think he has any! He’s a complete scumbag. But I find that quite fun. He’s a fun character to play. Obviously some scenes are disgusting and I dreaded doing them. But in this kind of environment [on the set] it doesn’t feel like you’re actually doing it, you’re playing it, so it doesn’t ever become too much. What’s difficult is, as an actor, you still need to understand him in order to make it truthful and to empathize with him.
Ramsay and his father are both psychopaths, but I get the impression Roose wouldn’t kill somebody unless it there was a logical reason to do so, whereas Ramsay will kill simply because he likes it — and regardless of the consequences.
That’s probably true. Ramsay is quite tactical though, too — and you’ll see that in this season. You’ll see him change a bit, and take his responsibilities more seriously.
What was your overall impression in general of reading the scripts this season?
Excited. There is stuff that’s pretty bleak. The writing is so clever, you get to play against what you usually do. The audience knows about Ramsay now, so you don’t need to always be doing evil stuff. You can be really nice and that makes it more sinister — and that’s the fun thing to do with Ramsay. We’re trying to play against what you know.
For more on Game of Thrones season 6, get the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which goes behind the scenes in Northern Ireland and Spain, plus profiles six of the show’s female stars. Follow @jameshibberd for ongoing GoT coverage, subscribe to our Thrones email newsletter, and bookmark this page for our latest GoT stories.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 24.