Known for his role as Robb Stark in the “Game of Thrones” series, Richard Madden is trading the battlefield for a ballroom and a sword for a glass slipper. The Scottish actor sat down with The Miami Hurricane to talk about his role as Prince Kit in Disney’s live-action movie “Cinderella.”
“They’re both young men that have responsibilities and duties thrust on them that they didn’t ask for,” Madden said, likening Robb Stark and Prince Kit.
Like his characters, Madden said he must juggle heavy responsibilities when dealing with the pressure that comes with iconic roles. He will reprise the classic role of Romeo, alongside Lily James (Cinderella), in a theatrical production of “Romeo and Juliet” in the West End in October. In 2007, Madden played Romeo in a touring production.
Despite these big parts, Madden, miming digging into the table with his nails, admitted he felt anxious for the role of a prince.
“Everybody’s got an idea of the prince and you don’t want to let people down,” he said.
To alleviate this anxiety, he credits the well-written script and the understanding director, Kenneth Branagh.
Calling each day on set with the director a “master class in acting,” Madden sees Branagh as “the ultimate gentleman.” Beyond Branagh’s directing, Madden said he learned a lot just by “how he conducts himself on the set … he has such a respect for people.”
Madden transferred this respect to his own character who, like a true gentleman, treats his father and Cinderella with selfless understanding.
“Cinderella is such a great role model, and I wanted to make a prince that could be a role model for young men,” he said.
Unlike other princes who remain unnamed, Prince Kit “has a real character and is a real young man, not just an ideal or a concept.”
“He is so well-written in this piece,” Madden said. “We get to see him as a son and as a soldier and as a friend, as well as a prince to Cinderella.”
This role is not just a lesson for young men, according to Madden. It also rewrites female expectation by creating a fleshed-out love interest who must “earn Cinderella’s affection,” as opposed to a superficial savior.
“There was a slightly old-fashioned message that doesn’t apply anymore, and that is probably not the best to teach young girls, which was the damsel in distress needs a man to save her from her life, and it doesn’t matter who he is; ‘he’s a prince and that’s fine,'” he said. “They’re both equals. She rescues him as much as he rescues her.”
Indeed, while modern iconic male characters tend to impress the girl with cocky displays of worldly power, Prince Kit remains anonymous, impersonating an apprentice.
Madden shared his advice for guys trying to impress their own princess: “Be honest without telling them your title… and have a bit of a sense of humor.”
He certainly lives up to his wise words. Humbly calling himself a bad dancer, he tried to view the dance scene positively, likening the experience to “skiing” to avoid stepping on Cinderella’s long dress.
Other than the dance lessons, what he most learned from this film was the message of an optimistic outlook.
“Cinderella finds the best in every moment, she views things positively and thus is happier,” he said. “That’s the big message. It’s not what you have or don’t have, it’s your perception of what your life is.”