When BBC One-Netflix collaboration Bodyguard hit Netflix in October, I asked the universe to give the thriller’s star, Richard Madden, and his hardworking left jaw muscle the awards show recognition they so thoroughly deserve. We’re one step closer to my dream becoming reality — Madden was nominated for a 2019 Golden Globe for his heart-stopping, unpredictable turn in Britain’s biggest show in decades. Bodyguard itself also nabbed a Best Drama nod.
This is a fact everyone who breathlessly watched Madden bring David Budd, ultra capable government bodyguard and Afghanistan war veteran, to life over Bodyguard’s stunning six-episode first season. But, for those of us who remember Madden’s tragic turn as Game Of Thrones’ first King In The North, the ill-fated Robb Stark, the news feels like a criminally long time coming.
Although Game Of Thrones is now more epic than ever — so many dragons, so little time — it was long known for one single, fairly realistic scene: the game-changing Red Wedding. To this day, just mentioning the devastating fictional nuptials can send chills up a Thrones fan’s spine. A pregnant woman (celebrity granddaughter Oona Chaplin) was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach. An entire army was slaughtered. Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley) throat was slit wide open.
At the middle of the Thrones season 3 bloodbath was Richard Madden’s Robb Stark, a man who was great at battle plans and awful at weddings. Since 2013, when “The Rains of Castamere” aired, it has been impossible to speak about the episode’s iconic Red Wedding without also talking about Robb Stark, the arrow-stuck figure in the middle of all the gory HBO chaos. If you don’t care about the Robb that Madden crafted, you can’t care about his brutal murder and the destruction of his sprawling bid for Northern Westerosi independence. You definitely can’t care about Robb's defeated last word, “Mother” to a desperate Catelyn, following the gruesome death of his wife and unborn child. But, you do.
And even if you don’t think Madden deserves credit for starring in television’s most shocking wedding, he was also turning in solid work over the 20 episodes that came before “Castamere.” If you don’t believe that, you haven’t watched him sob over his beloved father’s (Sean Bean) execution while also hacking at a tree and wearing all the armor in the world. It’s good stuff.
Yet, the actor never got a single award show nomination for his performance as one of the most integral, emotional characters in the biggest show of the 21st century so far. This is surprising when you remember the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the body behind the Golden Globes, is famous for its tradition of shining a light on the less appreciated, but still spectacular performances out there. The Globes are the only major award show to hand out a statue to often ignored CW stars like Gina Rodriguez and Rachel Bloom for their own tireless work.
Still, the Globes snubbed Madden the year he was eligible for “Castamere” and instead handed out supporting actor nominations to the likes of Rob Lowe in fellow HBO project Behind The Candelabra and Jon Voight in Ray Donovan. Yes, really, HBO’s campy Liberace movie got more awards show love than the leading man of the Red Wedding.
At least Madden is finally getting the appreciation he missed out on with Game Of Thrones thanks to his star-making performance in Bodyguard, a tour de force one can’t look away from. Not only does Madden shine in big obvious moments — like his now-infamous 007-like driving sequence in Bodyguard’s second episode, or David's heartbreakingly low moment following a shocking death — but also in the small ones.
There’s a reason Twitter can’t stop noticing how well he translates David's bubbling internal turmoil with the simple clench of his jaw. Or the way he managed to ground one of the wildest, weirdest finales of 2018. A man walked the streets of London with a suicide bomb strapped to his chest, and we were all like, “Yeah, that tracks.” That is talent.
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