The one thing Richard Madden was certain of when he was cast as the Prince in “Cinderella” was that this wedding would have to go better than the last wedding he was cast in. Madden’s run on as Robb Stark on “Game of Thrones” came to a bloody end in what is called “The Red Wedding.”
“Cinderella” is a big change from Madden’s days on “Game of Thrones.” He loved being part of the HBO production that has become a global sensation. But, major characters are never safe on the series. As Madden says, it seems the good guys end up dead.
Taking on the Prince in “Cinderella” gave Madden a different kind of character to play.
“These were two such different characters I didn’t mind going from one fantasy production to another because the roles were so different,” Madden says.
During the audition process, Madden learned that director Kenneth Branagh wanted a more three-dimensional Prince. Besides finding the beauty who lost her glass slipper, the Prince has an important relationship with his father, develops into a ruler with more human qualities and accepts Cinderella just as she is.
“It was important to me to see this Prince as a son,” Madden says. “First and foremost, Cinderella is a daughter and the Prince is a son. They are two young people who are defined by their parents and so it was very important for me to build that relationship with my father.”
Madden wanted to bring a sense of humor to the role, too. He found that outlet with Derek Jacobi, who plays his father. The pair would often improvise their lines in scenes.
Madden didn’t have to go through any sword fighting or horseback riding training since he had already learned all of that for “Game of Thrones.”
His biggest challenge was learning the ballroom dance where the Prince and Cinderella find their fates intertwined. He spent six months in dance classes — it was four months before they would even allow him to get close to co-star Lily James in the electric blue ball gown that is so prominent in all of the movie advertising.
When they finally danced together with her in the gown, Madden proceeded to tear it to shreds with his clumsy feet.
“I’m not a naturally gifted dancer, so we had to work really hard to make it look like I knew what I was doing,” Madden says. “When I would look in Lily’s eyes, doing my acting thing, I would forget what I was doing with my feet. Once we got on set and started filming, I forgot about everything and we just got it done.”
Madden says he and James bonded immediately because they shared something in common.
“We both had this fear and terror of this being our first movie and it’s really big,” Madden says. “We were playing characters that lots of people have an idea of who they are. That thrust together of realizing that we were in this together and let’s just get along and do it.”
Next, Madden and James will reunite with Branagh to star in “Romeo and Juliet” at the Garrick Theatre in London.