By James Hibberd
Updated June 09, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT

Game of Thrones

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POLL ADDED: He was called Boy. That’s it. On the Game of Thrones set, in the scripts, even in conversations with visiting journalists. Just Boy.

Thrones showrunners wanted to keep Theon’s mysterious tormenter a third-season secret, even from fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels, readers who had figured out weeks ago what the show revealed in its third finale Sunday: He is Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose Bolton, that smarmy traitorous lord who was pledged to Robb Stark, then stabbed the Young Wolf at the Red Wedding after switching to partner with the Lannisters and Freys.

“I had to keep it on the down low, big time,” says 28-year-old Welsh actor Iwan Rheon, now cleared by HBO to speak freely for the first time. “It does make things much easier for me, it’s annoying not even being able to reveal who you are. Everywhere you go people are trying to get it out of you. It’s been quite funny, a lot of my mates were really into the show before [I was cast]. They’ve all come back and are like, ‘you horrible little bastard.'”

In Martin’s books, Theon (Alfie Allen) is basically off-screen from the moment he loses control of Winterfell in Book 2 until he’s revealed in Ramsay’s dungeon much later in the saga. Producers wanted to keep Theon as part of the show so they filled in what happened to his character — getting horrifically tortured, basically. “It’s not very nice doing things like that but Alfie is a great guy and a great actor and he gives it his 100 percent and it’s great working with him,” Rheon says. “It’s very difficult for him when I get all the good stuff.”

The change also introduces Ramsay earlier in the story. Given his portrayal, it’s probably not a spoiler to say he’s being set up to become a major villain on the show. In fact, Ramsay is so sadistic, one could make the argument that he’s the most evil character we’ve seen so far — which is really saying something. What does Rheon think? “Probably, yeah. He’s definitely one of the last people you’d want to meet on a dark street.”

Now that Ramsay is revealed, it’s unclear what his role will be in season four. More torturing? Probably. But you have to figure that’s going to get wearisome after a certain point, if not a bit already. Just don’t ask Rheon what his character will be up to. He either doesn’t know, or once again is ordered to keep quiet.

“I have absolutely no idea to be honest with you,” he says. “I’m looking forward as much as you to finding out.”

UPDATE: Poll added! Which Thrones character is evil-ist? You may choose TWO names:

Thrones finale full coverage:

Episode Recaps

Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

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