Here’s The Inspiration Behind Game Of Thrones’ Ramsay Bolton
Ramsay Bolton was crowned the “Most Hated Man on TV” earlier this year by The New York Times, and it’s not as though he didn’t earn the title. The prickly bastard has been wreaking havoc in the North since sacking Winterfell in Season 2. Since then, he’s mutilated Theon Greyjoy, raped Sansa Stark, flayed countless men and women alive, and been an increasingly vile presence on Game of Thrones.
Fans have been calling for Ramsay’s death since Season 3, and even actor Iwan Rheon thinks “he’s gotta go.” What he lacks in charisma, he makes up for in brutality—so it’s interesting that Rheon’s inspirations for such a loathed character are some of the most charismatic villains in recent history.
In a recent interview with The Independent, Rheon explained how his wicked wrongdoer is essentially an amalgamation of Heath Ledger’s infamously unhinged Joker—the actor’s initial inspiration, which quite honestly has been the initial inspiration for every villain since 2008—and juvenile troublemaker Dennis the Menace.
“It’s great to have that childlike glee in doing all these horrible things,” Rheon said. As for the Lord of Winterfell’s stoic swagger, the 31-year-old actor admitted that he adapted Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher’s “attitude and walk.”
Rheon’s portrayal of the menacing psychopath is even too real for his own mother, who’s probably the only person on the planet who has zero interest in watching Game of Thrones. “She finds it more difficult than fans to detach because no matter what costume I’m wearing, she still sees a little boy out there,” Rheon said. (Good call, Mrs. Rheon.)
Perhaps no moment in Game of Thrones has received more fan ire than the Season 5 scene in which Ramsay rapes Sansa on their wedding night. Fans denounced the show for depicting sexual violence so callously. The outcry was so swift and so deafening that the showrunners eventually announced that Season 6 would tone down the sexual violence — and so far, they’ve kept their promise.
For Rheon, however, the response was a surprise. “I understand why the reaction’s there because people have watched this girl grow up and they love her,” he said. “But at the same time there was such an intense backlash about it, and it isn’t the worst thing that’s happened on Game of Thrones. You know, burning a child… nobody seems to go mad about that.”
So where does one go after playing the Most Hated Man on TV? A young Adolf Hitler, naturally. (Hmm.) Rheon’s set to portray the future Fuhrer in the satirical drama Adolf the Artist. But just because Rheon’s good at playing bad doesn’t mean that’s what he wants in his career.
“Ramsay is the first role like that I’ve ever played, and it’s a bit annoying it’s the one that everyone knows,” he said. “I’d hate that it would just be that… I wouldn’t want to be an actor any more.”