10 Surprising Facts About Richard Madden

Stuart C. Wilson, Getty Images
Stuart C. Wilson, Getty Images

Scottish actor Richard Madden may be best known for his portrayal of Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, yet that's not his most acclaimed role to date. Earlier this year, Madden won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama for his role in the political crime drama Bodyguard. Currently, he can be seen on the big screen in the Elton John biopic Rocketman, and is also reportedly a front-runner to take over the role of James Bond from Daniel Craig. Not bad for a 33-year-old actor (his birthday is today).

Next up, Madden will star in the new Sam Mendes film 1917, and is rumored to be acting in an upcoming Marvel film, The Eternals. Since his original rise to fame with Game of Thrones, Madden has managed to keep himself extremely busy. To celebrate his birthday, here are a few things you might not know about the star.

1. Richard Madden started acting as a way to get over his shyness.

When asked by Flaunt magazine in a 2015 interview what he'd be doing if he wasn't acting, Madden said that he'd probably be a "shy, fat kid living in Scotland with no girlfriend." Though one might think he was making a joke, Madden explained that he was incredibly shy growing up and gravitated toward acting as a way to overcome this by joining a children's theater. The actor says he is still shy now, though it clearly hasn’t stood in the way of his success.

2. He didn't make a fortune off of Game of Thrones.

Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden, and Oona Chaplin in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Although Game of Thrones turned Madden into a household name, the actor didn't make a fortune playing the King in the North. "People think I am [rich], because of Game Of Thrones, but you know, when I signed up for that I was 22," Madden told The Sunday Times. Though he did not disclose exactly how much he was paid for the role, we can assume it was nowhere near the whopping $500,000 per episode stars like Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke were making toward the end of the series.

3. Madden is uncomfortable with his sex symbol status.

From his Game of Thrones role to his part in Bodyguard, Madden has quickly become an internet obsession. But the actor isn’t a fan of that kind of attention. “I worry sometimes about it affecting my job," Madden said in 2018. "If people go, ‘Oh, he’s that hunky thing,’ it undermines that actually I’m an actor and I’m trying really hard to be good at it.”

4. Madden's nether regions caused a problem on the set of Cinderella.

Madden may be uncomfortable with being one of the internet's boyfriends, but playing Prince Charming opposite Lily James in the 2015 live-action remake of Cinderella only increased his visibility. Having worked on a show like Game of Thrones, making a PG-rated movie was a new experience for Madden—and one that introduced him to a rather odd issue on-set: trying to keep his bulge hidden.

While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Madden explained the measures the filmmakers had to take to make sure his look was PG-rated. "The prince can't have any genitalia, apparently," Madden said. "We had about two days of screen tests where we had to try lots of different jock straps, just to make sure we can't see anything through the trousers."

5. Madden learned about Robb Stark's fate from Google.

With a beloved franchise like Game of Thrones, it would seem that even if you hadn't read the books before portraying a character, you could pretty easily find out about their arc. So for Madden, his technique of reading George R.R. Martin’s books as they were filming was definitely a fail. The actor recalled:

"A thousand people spoiled it for me before I had a chance to pick up the third book. I read [the books] season-by-season. I don't want to preempt where Robb is going and that's what I've done since the show started. I also made the fatal flaw of Googling. So that kind of reinforced what people were hinting—saying that something terrible was going to happen and giggling."

6. Madden's mom wasn't happy about his Bodyguard sex scenes.

Madden is no stranger to filming intimate scenes, but it looks like his parents will never get used to seeing their son naked on-screen. While appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss Bodyguard, the host asked the actor if his mom and dad were happy to see his bare butt in the series. Madden quickly explained:

“No, they're never happy about the butt. I've made a few mistakes in my time, which is neglecting to tell my mother that there's going to be a sex scene in the show. And then I get kind of a hysterical phone call of, 'You must tell me and your father! I was watching it at the time and my cup of tea, I nearly spilled it!' And then she covers her eyes.”

7. Madden's family has an awkward nickname for him.

While appearing on The Late Late Show With James Corden, Madden explained the awkward nickname his mom gave him: Little Dick. "She loves it. It's her favorite gag," he said. "My father's also called Richard—which translates as 'Big Dick' and 'Little Dick.' Thanks, mum!"

8. Madden made a surprising friend in Elton John while filming Rocketman.

Currently, Madden can be seen playing John Reid, Elton John’s first boyfriend and manager, in the recently-released Rocketman. While promoting the film on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Madden revealed that he became friends with the real Elton John after making the movie, explaining it was surprising to find out how “shy” and “gentle” he actually was.

9. Madden is "thankful" he was killed off on Game of Thrones so early.

Madden recently revealed that he is grateful to be one of the actors killed off early in Game of Thrones. Madden spoke about the experience in an interview with Amy Adams for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, saying:

“It was such a hard thing to finish because from first pilot to my death was five years. But five years was a great time to be on the show. It helped me so much with my career and experience. I learned a lot from shooting 30 hours of television. You really start to learn the trade doing that. And then I was thankful to leave it.”

Three seasons was enough for Madden, and he praised the actors who made it until the end. “Give these guys some medals, because that is a marathon,” he said.

10. Madden did, however, cry like a baby after his final day of filming.



View this post on Instagram

#TBT This is Kit, Alfie and I after our first read through of S1 Ep1 of Game of Thrones about 10 years ago. KIDZ.

A post shared by Richard Madden (@maddenrichard) on

While Madden may have the benefit of hindsight now, he was in a very different emotional state following his final days of filming on Game of Thrones. In a 2018 interview with GQ, Madden shared that he cried so hard on the flight home from the set that he actually frightened other passengers. “I was sobbing and covered in blood," Madden said. "I looked like I’d murdered someone and got on that flight which, in fact, I hadn’t—I’d been murdered."

7 Fast Facts About RollerCoaster Tycoon

Amazon
Amazon

For Windows gamers, 1999 was dominated by RollerCoaster Tycoon, a now-classic strategy and building game that tasked users with erecting an amusement park and gauging the popularity of rides while maintaining a profit margin and keeping patrons from barfing all over the landscape. For the game’s 20th anniversary, check out some facts about its origins, its association with pizza, and how it became a pinball machine.

1. The first RollerCoaster Tycoon sold 4 million copies.

RollerCoaster Tycoon was the brainchild of Scottish programmer Chris Sawyer, who had enjoyed success with his line of Transport Tycoon games in the 1990s that allowed players to build and operate their own railroad, truck, and ship lines. Sawyer decided to marry that concept with his love of roller coasters. An independent effort—Sawyer enlisted only two collaborators, artist Simon Foster and musician Allister Brimble—the first Tycoon game that was released in 1999 sold a staggering 4 million copies.

2. RollerCoaster Tycoon came free with frozen pizza.

In the early 2000s, packaged food companies offered products that came with promotional offers for CD-ROMs. In 2003, Pillsbury offered a free copy of RollerCoaster Tycoon to anyone who sent in proof of purchase barcodes from specially-marked boxes of Totino’s Pizza Rolls or Pillsbury Toaster Strudel.

3. There’s a RollerCoaster Tycoon pinball machine.

A pinball machine released to coincide with 2002’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 took the spiraling coasters of the game and put them under glass. Players could try and direct the pinball—a substitute for the park guest—around and through coasters like The Flying Ghost and The Rocket.

4. RollerCoaster Tycoon helped inspire Minecraft.

If you or a loved one has spent countless hours absorbed in the popular world-building game Minecraft, you have RollerCoaster Tycoon to thank. Minecraft creator Markus Persson was a fan of Tycoon for the way it allowed players to construct elaborate designs. He also enjoyed Dungeon Keeper, which had a fantasy element. Together, the two games encouraged him to develop Minecraft. The game debuted in 2009 and went on to become one of the biggest interactive success stories of all time.

5. RollerCoaster Tycoon inspired real roller coaster designers.

The laborious construction undertaken by players of RollerCoaster Tycoon weaned a number of players on the excitement of the amusement industry. Park designers hoping to break into the industry have used screen shots from the game as examples of their design prowess at trade shows.

6. You can get a spooky update of RollerCoaster Tycoon in time for Halloween.

Atari distributes an Android and iOS version of RollerCoaster Tycoon for mobile phone users. For 2019, the company is offering a Six Flags Fright Fest update to the game that adds a Halloween component. Players can add Skull Mountain, an actual Six Flags coaster, as well as a Demon Rock statue.

7. A RollerCoaster Tycoon fan spent 10 years building a park.

In 2017, a Reddit user declared he was finished building out his own custom park on RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. The 34 coasters and 255 attractions were all minutely detailed, offering a sprawling virtual park with themed areas covering everything from Egyptian attractions to a forest. In comparison, it took only four years to build the actual Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

10 Wild Scooby-Doo Fan Theories

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

For 50 years, the hard-working teens (and dog) of Mystery, Inc. have been investigating the paranormal. What began as a single Hanna-Barbera cartoon series—Scooby Doo, Where Are You!—in the 1960s quickly morphed into a franchise with multiple spin-off shows, comic books, and a few questionable movies. That adds up to a lot of spooky stories, which have inspired fans to come up with their own creepy (or just plain crazed) tales about Scooby and the gang. Here are some of their best theories, including one that somehow connects to Patrick Stewart.

1. Scooby is a Soviet space dog.

For all the cases that Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy solved, they never got to the bottom of the show’s most enduring mystery: How and why does Scooby Doo talk? Some fans think he can’t really speak—that it’s just something his buddy Shaggy imagines while he’s high. But one Redditor has a much more complicated and compelling theory based on the show’s 1960s setting. At that time, America and the USSR were locked in the so-called “Space Race,” competing to see who could claim the first achievements in spaceflight. The Russians famously shot Yuri Gagarin into the stratosphere in 1961, but he wasn’t the first Soviet in space. Canine cosmonauts like Laika beat him by several years, and if the USSR was willing to put a dog in a rocket, who’s to say they didn’t experiment on him first?

According to this fan theory, Scooby is a runaway from the Soviets’ classified space dog program, designed to breed pups capable of operating satellites and understanding radio commands. Scooby was the best of the bunch, the rare test subject who could understand and imitate human speech. Naturally, one of the scientists got attached and defected with Scooby to the USA. When that scientist died, Scooby found a new family with a group of friendly teenagers. But the CIA never stopped searching for this Soviet wunderpup, which is why Mystery, Inc. is constantly traveling by van—and why the original show is called Scooby Doo, Where Are You!

2. The show takes place during an economic depression.

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

A classic Scooby-Doo mystery might take place at a theme park, museum, or mine—so long as it’s grimy and deserted. That’s a weird coincidence when you think about it: why are all these places so rundown? Well, that tends to happen when you’re weathering a financial collapse, and many clues indicate that’s just what’s happening in the world of Scooby-Doo. The towns he and his friends visit never seem to be doing well. No one has any money: Not the many scientists posing as monsters for cash, not the operators of every haunted attraction the gang investigates, and certainly not Shaggy and Scooby, who gorge on dog treats and lose their minds whenever they so much as smell a burger.

3. Mystery, Inc. is actually a cult.

Let’s break down the core members of the gang: You have Fred, the handsome and friendly frontman of the group. Then there’s Daphne, the fashionable and pretty one who mostly follows Fred around. Velma has the brains and Shaggy has full-blown conversations with a dog. When you really think about, doesn’t this all sound a bit like a cult? Fred would obviously be the cult leader, who recruits groupies like Daphne to obey his every command. Velma’s intelligence makes her a useful addition, and she could also be seeking acceptance from the “cool” kids. As for Shaggy, well, men who claim dogs can talk to them have a famously disturbing history—much like cult members.

4. They’re all draft dodgers.

Scooby Doo, Where Are You! premiered in 1969. Also happening that year? The Vietnam War. As able-bodied men (seemingly) over 18, Fred and Shaggy would both be eligible for the draft, which begs the obvious question: is Mystery, Inc. just a bunch of draft dodgers? The boys could be driving that van straight to Canada to avoid deployment, along with Fred’s fiancée Daphne and their antiwar activist friend Velma. Scooby’s stance on the war remains unclear, but he’s along for the ride.

5. Scooby Snacks alter your genes.

What if Scooby’s preferred treat is really a steroid capable of editing genetic code? It would explain why Scooby—and other members of his canine family, like Scrappy-Doo and Scooby-Dum—can talk, as well as their ability to perform “completely ridiculous stunts.” (Also, if Scrappy-Doo is on steroids, it would explain why he’s always trying to fight.) But what about its effect on humans? As far as we know, Shaggy is the only person who eats Scooby Snacks, and he seems to have a freakishly high metabolism, considering the mile-high sandwiches he eats and his super skinny frame.

6. Fred drives the Mystery Machine because the real owner is too high.

Whenever the gang piles into the Mystery Machine, there’s only one person behind the wheel: Fred. Mystery, Inc.’s de facto leader is constantly driving his friends from one haunted house to the next, which would imply that the Mystery Machine is his car. But why would a clean-shaven, preppy kid like Fred own a lime green van with flowers plastered over the doors? That car obviously belongs to a hippie, and in this group, that’s Shaggy. His hippie lifestyle, however, may be the reason Shaggy never drives. He’s either lost his license from driving under the influence, or Fred is worried he will, so someone else serves as his designated driver.

7. Shaggy is Captain America’s son.

This theory starts with small coincidences, like the fact that Norville “Shaggy” Rogers and Steve Rogers share a last name. Then it builds to something bigger when you factor in a detail from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While out on a morning run, Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon) claims that Steve can run 13 miles in half an hour, a rate that breaks down to 26 mph. Shaggy, meanwhile, frequently keeps pace with Scooby, a Great Dane. Those dogs run up to 30 mph. Ergo, Shaggy is Steve’s son.

8. Monsters really do exist in the Scooby-Doo universe.

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

Each time the gang catches a new “monster,” it always turns out to be a human in disguise, grumbling about how they “would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” Monsters, the show tells us over and over again, are not real. But this Reddit theory poses an important question: If monsters don’t exist, why is there a business dedicated to catching the fake ones? The fact that Mystery, Inc. keeps getting calls implies that “supernatural fraud” is an entire category of crime, one that wouldn’t make sense or work if people didn’t believe in monsters. Everyone in the Scooby-Doo universe also seems to accept monsters as a normal and everyday occurrence, suggesting that monsters are real—the gang has just never caught one.

9. Shaggy and Scooby are actors.

When danger calls, Shaggy and Scooby tend to run the other way. But what if the group’s most cowardly members were actually actors pretending to be scared of ghosts, monsters, and other paranormal entities? According to this fan theory, Shaggy and Scooby are faking their over-the-top fear in order to draw the monsters out. By posing as easy targets, they know they’ll get spooked first, and thus make it easier for Mystery, Inc. to trap the ghost/witch/pirate. That’s why Fred always pairs Shaggy with Scooby when they split up to investigate, and it’s why after many years of investigating the supernatural, the two of them still don’t seem remotely used to it.

10. Green Room is just a gritty Scooby-Doo reboot.

The 2015 horror movie Green Room is about a band with a van that squares off against an evil old Nazi. The Scooby-Doo franchise is about a team (that was supposed to be a band) with a van that squares off against evil old men (who could also, theoretically, be Nazis). You do the math.

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