June 18, 1986
Elderslie, Renfrewshire, Scotland
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Richard Madden early in his career became a darling of the U.K. theatre scene, and soon vaulted to international recognition as one of the breakout stars of HBO's sprawling fantasy phenomenon "Game of Thrones" (2011- ). Madden flirted with child stardom in his native land as star of the BBC Scotland show "Barmy Aunt Boomerang" (1999-2000), but withdrew from the public eye until his twenties when he began raising theatre patrons' eyebrows with a series of stage performances in such plays as "Tom Fool," the Globe Theatre's restaging of "Romeo and Juliet," the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Noughts and Crosses" and the National Theatre of Scotland's touring production of "Be Near Me." After a low-profile return to television in the BBC's "Hope Springs" (2009) and some one-off movie roles, he landed a spot in the voluminous Brit-centric cast of ballyhooed sword-and-sorcery epic "Game of Thrones," playing Robb Stark, knightly heir to a heroic noble family. With his intense eyes and smoldering good-looks making him fanzine cover-boy material, Madden was hailed by media wags as one of Britain's foremost stars on the rise.Madden was born in 1986 and raised in Elderslie, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the second of three children to Pat and Dick Madden, the latter a firefighter and later senior officer with the regional service Strathclyde Fire & Rescue. A shy boy, Richard began coming out of his shell when, at age 11, he took up dramatic studies with the youth theater program at the local Paisley Arts Centre. His talents impressed professionals such that, in 1999, he was cast as the young nephew central to the attentions of his zany aunt, played by U.K. cult actress-musician Toyah Willcox, on the kiddie show "Barmy Aunt Boomerang," followed by a brief turn as a youthful flashback version of one of the leads in the Edinburgh-shot indie mystery "Complicity" (2000). Child stardom, however, had the reverse effect, as schoolmates' razzing over his TV persona made him feel self-conscious and isolated. Madden bowed out of further juvenile work but continued his dramatic studies after his secondary schooling, matriculating at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow. In addition to school productions, he trod the boards for the Arches and Glasgow Repertory Company and the Citizens' Theatre, where he starred in a production of the Franz Xaver Kroetz play "Tom Fool," playing the rebellious youth at odds with his alienated factory-worker father.The production went over well enough to be put up in London for an off-West End run. It was there that Madden was spotted by representatives of the Globe Theatre, the London company centered on a replica of Shakespeare's original theater, and he went on to land the plum role of Romeo in its 2007 modernist restaging of "Romeo and Juliet," which toured open-air venues throughout the U.K. that summer. Graduating from RSAMD in 2007, Madden moved to London. He found himself in auspicious company again in 2008, cast as the young hero of a stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman's juvenile sci-fi novel Noughts and Crosses by the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2009, he took one of the leads as another troubled youth, this one broaching an inappropriate relationship with a small-town Catholic priest in the National Theatre of Scotland's touring production of "Be Near Me." Back on TV, he played a love interest to one of four female ex-cons who happen into a small Scottish town in the BBC comedy "Hope Springs" (2009- ). He also took supporting roles in the indie psychological thriller "Chatroom" (2010) and the BBC biopic of Boy George, "Worried About the Boy" (2010).Madden's star was deemed sufficiently on the rise in 2010 for the regional edition of Esquire to name him one of "75 Brilliant Young Brits" to watch. But it would just be prelude to a flurry of attention to come his way after joining a small army of Irish and British thespians cast in sprawling, much-anticipated HBO series, "Game of Thrones."