Note: This story contains a major revelation from Game of Thrones season 6 episode 9 “Battle of the Bastards”…
The desperate wishes of millions of Game of Thrones fans have been granted: Ramsay Bolton met his demise in Sunday night’s “Battle of the Bastards” in a climactic downfall that concluded his character in a hugely satisfying multi-tier fashion: First Ramsay’s forces were crushingly defeated, then he was beaten to a bloody pulp by Jon Snow, and finally he was fed to his own beloved hounds by none other than Sansa Stark. Across four seasons, actor and singer Iwan Rheon helped bring to life a character that — whether you hated Ramsay or whether you really-really hated Ramsay — provoked a stronger emotional reaction than any of the series’ legion of villainous characters. “I love Iwan’s work,” costar Kit Harington praised. “He’s an incredibly detailed actor who’s created a character who’s remarkable and despicable.” Below we spoke to Rheon about “Battle of the Bastards.” While actors often mourn their characters’ demise on Thrones, Rheon’s reaction was precisely the opposite —he wholeheartedly agrees that Ramsay deserved exactly what he got.
Entertainment Weekly: When did showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss give you the call to reveal Ramsay’s demise?
Iwan Rheon: I had received half the scripts, five episodes, then I got the call. They joked, “Isn’t it great Ramsay ends up on the Iron Throne?” As soon as they said that I said, “He’s dead isn’t he?” It’s cool. I’ve had four lovely seasons here. It’s been great to be involved with such an amazing show. I think it’s kind of right he goes down. Because what else is he going to do after this? He’s done so many things. It’s justified and it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right path. He’s reached his peak. It’s nice for the audience that he goes out on this high, if you will.
I love that Jon challenges Ramsay to fight and he just says no.
Yeah. It’s actually quite intelligent of Ramsay. He would like to fight him. Jon Snow tries to wind him up. But Jon would probably beat him and he knows that. Ramsay knows Jon is an amazing swordsman. Ramsay might win, he might get lucky, but he knows he’s got twice as many soldiers so he’s like, “I don’t have to, you’re all dead.” And without the knights of the Vale, it would have been over.
It’s arguably unfair for Ramsay — because he won. Strategically, on the battlefield, given the information he had, he beat Jon Snow. He should be the victor, even though he’s not the one the audience is rooting for.
But I do think it’s just and it’s right. I’m glad it happens as a fan of the show. Jon Snow needs to win because otherwise there’s no hope left in the world. But it is interesting that it isn’t fair. And afterward, Ramsay still thinks he’s won. He’s so arrogant and self assured he thinks he’ll still be fine — until the last minute. He always thinks he’s going to be okay.
That your character was being matched against Jon in the first place had to be exciting.
Anyone who has asked me, “Who would you like Ramsay to meet?” my answer has always been “Jon Snow.” He’s the antithesis of Ramsay. They’re almost a yin and a yang. They both come from such a similar place yet they’re so different. And even though they’re enemies, they’ve both risen so far as bastards, which is almost incomprehensible, and now they’re both here facing each other. They couldn’t be any more different, yet more similar.
You said in an interview last year that if Ramsay is going to die, you want him to go out in some big dramatic way — and this is certainly that. First you have the epic battle, then the fight with Jon, and then the scene with Sansa. You get this multi-stage downfall. Joffrey was a great villain too, but suddenly he was poisoned and taken away from us rather abruptly.
Yeah, I feel really lucky he got a proper send off. And it’s a gruesome death. It’s so ironic. He’s been banging on about those hounds all this time.
What did you think of your final scene with Sansa?
I haven’t shot it yet [note: this interview as conducted last fall]. I think it was great. It’s a good scene. It leaves Sansa in an interesting place as a character, because he’s saying, “I’m inside you now.” [Rheon shudders] It’s horrible, and I think he probably has done some damage. He’s gotten in her head. But I think it’s nice too, because it’s such a great scene to go out on.
What will you miss the most?
I think I’ll miss the coming here and seeing everyone and getting down and doing it. And I’ll miss when you pick up a script and read it and there’s always one scene in every season where i go, “Thank you so much, thank you, this is such a beauty.” And the excitement of doing that scene. Usually theres a few, but there’s one absolute immense scene. It’s going to be really odd not doing this anymore. You’re a part of something huge and you turn up and see the sets and the castles and everything. I’m going to be really I’m going to miss being a part of it.
What’s your favorite of those scenes that you’re shot
The season four shaving scene was one of my favorites. And I think the parlay scene in this epode, with all the horses and this amazing setting and with Jon Snow facing him. It was a cool day, man, having that face off and all the tension.
What’s next for you?
I’m not really sure. There’s stuff that might happen and might not so I don’t want to talk about it yet. I need to write another album. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some gigs. All that’s been difficult to do.
More Battle of the Bastards coverage: Director Miguel Sapochnik details exactly what it took to pull off this episode. Separately, Sapochnik also weighed in on staging Ramsay’s final scenes. And here’s our deep-dive recap with our take on ‘Battle of the Bastards.’ Sophie Turner reacts to her final Ramsay scene. Below, check out the latest episode of our Game of Thrones Weekly podcast where we talk about our time on the BOB set.