♪ Ding dong the bastard’s dead. Which bastard? The Bolton bastard. Ding dong the Bolton bastard’s dead ♪
It finally happened! At the end of “Battle of the Bastards,” Ramsay Bolton was dispatched in the most poetically gruesome manner imaginable.
After being beaten to a bloody pulp, Ramsay regained consciousness in the kennels with Sansa staring at him through the bars. After a brief exchange in which she affirmed that she has survived his abuse while he will be lost to history, she watched as his own hounds ate him alive.
It wasn’t the “death by dragon” that Iwan Rheon had hoped for but it was “epically nasty” and a well-earned, thoroughly satisfying end for such a despicable character.
Regardless of the controversy that surrounded parts of Ramsay’s storyline, Iwan Rheon deserves immense recognition (ideally in the form of an Emmy, but … oh well) for his portrayal of the bastard of Bolton.
He imbued a potentially lugubrious villain with a maniacal joy that set Ramsay apart from his villainous predecessor, Joffrey, and charged every scene he appeared in with a frenetic energy that made our skin crawl and set even the most casual viewer on edge.
The great irony about Iwan Rheon, though, is that, prior to Game of Thrones, he was best known for playing meek introverts.
I first heard about Rheon back in 2009 when he played the high-strung, suicidal teenager, Moritz Stiefel, in the original London cast of Spring Awakening, for which he won a Laurence Olivier Award. Shortly afterwards, he was cast in the hit series, Misfits, as the painfully shy juvenile delinquent with powers of invisibility, Simon Bellamy.
During his tenure on Game of Thrones, Rheon appeared in a number of films and television shows, most notably Vicious, a multi-camera sitcom in which he played Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi’s sweet, naïve neighbor, Ash.
He’s also a singer-songwriter and released his first album Dinard last year, which included a duet with his brother, Aled Rheon.
With all that in mind, it’s a testament to the power of his performance as Ramsay that many fans now struggle to picture him playing anything but a villain.
“I want to try and move away from bad guys because I really fear being typecast,” Rheon said in an interview with the Independent. “Because Ramsay is the first role like that I’ve ever played and it’s a bit annoying it’s the one that everyone knows. I’d hate that it would just be that… I wouldn’t want to be an actor anymore.”
His upcoming roles include a soldier driven to paranoia by isolation in the science-fiction horror film, SUM1, a supportive neighbor in the coming-of-age indie drama, Daisy Winters and young Hitler applying for art school in the dark comedy, Adolf the Artist, which Rheon has described as his most challenging role yet.
So, it doesn’t look like he’ll be wanting for variety any time soon. Though his performance as Ramsay Bolton will surely leave a lasting and haunting impression on Game of Thrones, I’m looking forward to watching Rheon play a wide range of characters moving forward. It’s a testament to the versatility of his filmography thus far (as well as his charisma as an individual) that, despite the extremity of Ramsay’s personality, fans can separate him from his character.
I’m very touched by all your lovely messages….and very glad people can differentiate me from the character. Thank you
— Iwan Rheon (@iwanrheon) June 21, 2016
He’s a brilliant actor with the rare ability to so fully inhabit extremes in human nature, from panicked timidity to sadistic joy, that it’s difficult to believe it’s the same man playing all these roles. He deserves to be recognized as such.