Curtain Call: Michael McElhatton & Elizabeth Webster

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“The high road’s very pretty, but you’ll have a hard time marching your army down it.”

Michael McElhatton has featured in Game of Thrones since early in season 2. Over the seasons, we’ve seen Roose Bolton’s growth from discontented bannerman, to traitor, to Warden of the North. While the show tends to shy away from the stereotypical “villain” role, Michael’s Roose was perhaps the only character capable of filling the shoes left vacant by the death of Tywin Lannister. As such, it is a pity to see him killed just as it seemed things were getting most interesting in his arc. However, Michael left plenty of memorable scenes in his wake, not the least of which is his deliverance of the coup de grâce to the betrayed Robb Stark.

Hailing from Terenure in Dublin, Michael pursued acting from a young age. He eventually graduated from London’s esteemed the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, before returning to Ireland and taking an interest in theatre and smaller-scale films. He has since displayed an admirable range within his craft. To Irish fans, he is perhaps better known as a comedic actor and writer, having both written and starred in Paths to Freedom and Spin the Bottle as the character of Rats, as well as being heavily involved in sketch show Your Bad Self. It is through his marvelously understated portrayal of Roose Bolton, however, that Michael has made his talent known to audiences worldwide.

As Roose, his performance was quite deliberate and considered, and he displayed a distinctive knack for having the audience hang on every word he said. There was a certain resonant nuance to his line delivery, which added a unique flavour to both his character and the scenes he dominated through measured restraint. Purely on a surface level, fans will fondly remember Roose’s voice, which Michael gave a deep, silky, timbre. On a deeper level, however, resided a complicated character, one of dry humour and cold pragmatism. The foreground did not suit Roose. He was a background player residing comfortably in the shadows, watching the board and considering his options, making sure to strike at the opportune moment which would directly benefit himself.

In light of the cunning nature of the character, it is lamentable that the show tended to shy away from making Roose a more prominent player in the North. Along with Stephen Dillane, Michael was a personal favourite cast member of mine, and I think a lot can be learned from the subtleties in their vocal and physical performances. It’s a pity we never saw them both come head to head.

Michael has left a gaping hole in the cast which will prove difficult to fill. In recent years, Michael has appeared in both Ripper Street and The Fall, in the company of a number of his Game of Thrones cast colleagues. He is also appearing in a number of films due to release this year, including JadotvilleThe Zookeeper’s Wife, and Handsome Devil. I certainly look forward to his future projects, and I’m sure many other fans do, too. As Roose abstains from alcohol, I won’t raise a proverbial glass to him, but I wish Michael the best of luck in his career going forward. He will be sorely missed.

mcelhatton


Elizabeth_WebsterWe first met Elizabeth Webster’s Walda Frey at the beginning of season 4. From the outset, she seemed out of place alongside the Boltons – a shy, kind-hearted, innocent soul who bore none of the ill traits her name might suggest.

Walda was symbolic of Roose’s pragmatic avarice – a physical manifestation of one of his most interesting character traits. To reduce her to a mere extension of Roose, however, does her a disservice, because she was also a character in her own right. That character being memorable is due greatly to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth brought much-needed levity and brightness to many thematically dark scenes, and managed to do so without jarring the tone or seeming obtrusive. That takes skill, and she has shown that she has it. Perhaps her finest moments on the show were her last, as she begged Ramsay to spare both her and her newborn son’s lives.

In the grand scheme of things, Elizabeth doesn’t have many projects under her belt, but I hope that her stellar portrayal of Walda Frey will open the doors to many more roles. She features in Pubmonkey and Let Me Go, coming later this year. We at the Wall and all of our readers wish you all the best, Elizabeth. You’ve earned it.

Walda

 

86 responses

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    1. I was lucky enough to meet Elizabeth at a convention a few weeks ago she is funny, smart and kind in real life as well. I wish her all the best. Such a sweet lady.

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    2. Roose Bolton was a very interesting character and Michael is an amazing actor!! All the best for Michael and Elisabeth and thanks for their amazing performances! 🙂

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    3. While McElhatton was excellent from day 1 and made Roose into a living breathing thing of silky malevolence and cold pragmatism, I find this curtain call does not do him or Ms. Webster justice.
      Both actors deserve a separate curtain call article and should have discussed what they brought to the series more than what was said. All I saw in this article was the writer’s dissatisfaction with the use of these characters and the show. If that was not the writer’s intention I apologize, but the lament about Stephen Dillane took me out of this instantly. McElhatton deserves better.

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    4. Standard reminder for Curtain Calls: posts need to be respectful and on topic. Conversation about other topics can go into our many other posts.

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    5. As for Michael, superb performance. A lot of people have mentioned his character was more interesting than his bastard son and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a shame to see him go.

      I think his casual cruelty was best exemplified when toying with Jaime: “….And your sister……oh, how can I put this? Your sister…..(takes a moment to enjoy Jaime suffering)…..is alive and well”. Brilliantly delivered.

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    6. Michael McElhatton was great, with all the events of the last ep it totaly slipped my mind we wont be seeing him again. 🙁

      That man did not have a bad scene since he first appeaerd in the show.

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    7. Webster really impressed me in her final scene. Playing it as profoundly sad rather than overly hysterical was absolutely the most powerful way to go. And McElhatton was superb throughout. Best of luck to them both.

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    8. Joshua Atreides,

      Walda was a minor character (albeit one I love) with minimal screentime and I’m going to stand by the decision to have her curtain call combined with Roose’s. People are dropping like flies this season, they’re not going to get separate CCs all the time.

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    9. 3 cast members that will forever remain in our hearts- Charles Dance, Stephen Dillane and Michael McElhatton. Acting performances were so good that when I read the books I hear their voices

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    10. Michael did a wonderful job playing Roose Bolton. In a show that consistently knocks casting out of the park, this one stands as one of the best. His look and his velvety voice have come to define Roose Bolton in my mind’s eye.

      I’ve seen some criticism about Roose’s death, and just have a couple thoughts on it I’d like to share. Some folks have expressed disappointment that Roose was so easily killed by Ramsay, that this consummate schemer somehow missed this very real threat right under his nose. To me, that is Game of Thrones in a nutshell, and Roose’s death stands as one of the great examples of how you can plan for almost anything, but it’s usually the thing you least expect that gets you. Although I’m saddened by the loss of such a fine actor, the character’s arc is profoundly satisfying. Here is a man who went to great and treacherous lengths to grab at power, only to be felled by the “mad dog” he raised up, empowered, and felt confident he could control. I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting end to Roose Bolton.

      Thanks for everything, Mr. McElhatton!

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    11. Ross,

      Well said!

      When I read A Dance with Dragons where Lady Dustin’s states that “Roose likes to play with men.”, I instantly reminisce to Michael McElhatton’s excellent performance.

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    12. Also, can we please have a montage of some of Roose’s best scenes and a character breakdown in a separate article pls?? Think that would be the right way to say goodbye to such a fine character

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    13. Sue the Fury,

      That is a fair statement and a practical one. Roose would agree! I am still disappointed however that this article subtly criticizes the show that Michael was proud to be a part of.

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    14. Michael McElhatton was brilliant, Roose’s menace was nicely underplayed but you knew beneath the surface there was a cruel cunning and he was someone to have as little to do with as possible. Glad he chose not to adopt too soft a voice as per the books or it would have just been silly on screen, he got the vocal level and tone spot on IMO.

      Elizabeth Webster didn’t have that much to do but she certainly put Walda across as someone with a good heart that you could feel sorry for her demise despite being a Frey. The industry isn’t so keen on good roles for “the fuller figure” but I hope she does get more work.

      Don’t know if was featured but there is an interview from 2 days agoa with Michael at the Hollywood Reporter – won’t link or this message will get spam voided!

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    15. Joshua Atreides,

      Well I don’t particularly agree with Cian on it, but he’s entitled to his opinion. Would be boring if we were sanitizing our writers’ thoughts in any way. 🙂

      Anyway, McElhatton is one of the show’s many great finds in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and I hope we see him in many more projects. He was great in The Fall and Ripper Street, two shows I recommend in general.

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    16. Though I have been wanting him dead since the Red Wedding, I am sad to see him go as I enjoyed Roose’s scenes, mostly because of the actor himself. Just amazing… and he is a very smart villain. Especially his last few conversations with Ramsay, just shows you how dumb Ramsay is.

      I hated him, sooooooooooooo much after the red wedding it was insane.

      Great job and best of luck to him.

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    17. Mickey Lannister:
      3 cast members that will forever remain in our hearts- Charles Dance, Stephen Dillane and Michael McElhatton. Acting performances were so good that when I read the books I hear their voices

      Absolutely agree. Best actors in entire series.

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    18. Michael McElhatton is a fascinating actor, the kind who stirs paradoxical feelings: the more you hate his character, the more you love him. I was very happy to find him among the cast in The Fall and Ripper Street, shows which I warmly recommend.
      I’m glad you printed Elizabeth Webster’s photo out of character: her character died a horrible and undeserved death and it’s a joy to see the actress’s serene and pleasant smile. That’s how I like to remember her.

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    19. I’m going to miss Roose, and I think he was the better Bolton villain. That being said, it’s ironic and slightly hilarious that Roose went out the same way Robb Stark did.

      Walda’s last scene was heartbreaking. 🙁

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    20. Michael was great as Roose. I hated the character so much in the books, but I never could quite hate him in the show; even though he still did betray Robb. He always seemed so cooly competent and was never gratuitously violent (plus he had the best accent on the show, bar none). I’m fine with how things went down, but I do wish the stabbing had gone the other way and he was the one to have the final showdown with the Starks.

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    21. Possibly the best thing about GOT is the fair legion of actors who have played supporting roles with the gusto and vigour normally associated with “being a star”. Thank you for featuring to of this group who are consistently nothing less than amazing. Clearly having so many English and Irish actors trained for stage as well as film performance should provide some insight to Americans as to how to up their games: hint — do some stage work.

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    22. McElhatton was the perfect Roose (in my opinion), as much as you hated his character and wanted him gone ASAP. It’s hard not to love and respect the way McElhatton brought him to life, his cold, calculating nature and his subtlety couldn’t have been better represented!

      As for Walda, Webster could not have done a better job making me fall in love with a character in the show that really didn’t have an effect on me in the books! Always made me smile (which is rare), if only she’d had more screen time!

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    23. I completely fell for Michael after seeing him interviewed and was sad to see his character leave the show. I will miss that voice! Best to Elizabeth, as well. She was the only Frey I could every like!
      I will be watching for their future works.

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    24. I think anyone from Ireland can agree we were a tad worried when we first saw who was going to be playing Roose Bolton – I would encourage all of you to google image ‘rats from the flats’ and you’ll see what I mean – but Michael just absolutely knocked it out of the park, in my opinion he played a far far better Roose than the book character and he will be sorely missed!

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    25. Roose, you son of a bitch, that’s what you get for not drowning that psychopath bastard in a well years ago

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    26. Roose, you son of a bitch. I hate you, but I’ll miss you. Mr. McElhatton did an excellent job bringing this cunning and calculating character to life. He’s one of the characters whose been around the longest, and I’ll miss him as an antagonist of the story. Can’t wait to find out how Roose gets it in the books.

      Walda, Walda Walda. You poor thing. No one asked you if you wanted to marry a Bolton, and you aren’t anything like your awful father and other male relatives. Ms. Webster did a great job of bringing levity to the scenes she was in, and it’s a damn shame we won’t get to see her anymore. And adding a baby to anything makes me weepy bit I blame my brain for that.

      That’s five curtain calls already (Hotah, Trystane, Doran, Roose & Walda and her baby), and we’re only going on episode 3.

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    27. Thanks MM for making Roose come to life. I enjoyed his scenes, although I secretly wished for an exposition scene with leeches. 🙂

      RIP Walda and baby Domeric. Both of you were doomed when Roose announced your pregnancy to Ramsay. May you enjoy flaying Ramsay in the afterlife.

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    28. R.I.P. my favorite villain. I hope his one-note son follows him soon.

      Walda was a breath of out-of-place sweetness, and I never once didn’t believe Roose and her as a couple. Well done!

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    29. fans will fondly remember Roose’s voice

      Even when he was being menacing – which was most of the time – that sexy, velvety voice was a delight. I will miss Michael and Elizabeth and wish them well in future endeavors.

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    30. There are characters that we love to hate; Roose Bolton, as played by Mr. McElhatton, we hated to love.
      I too wish he could have stayed around longer; and I am sad he was not a character further used in the series. I would love him to be a sort of Tywin Lannister in a less aristocratic approach.
      And Walda. Sweet Walda.

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    31. Apparently this needs to be reposted:
      Standard reminder for Curtain Calls: posts need to be respectful and on topic. Conversation about other topics can go into our many other posts.

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    32. I´m going to miss Roose, they have done an excellent job with the characters. And Walda was so lovely, too nice for this world.
      Terrific actors both Michael and Elizabeth. Good luck!! 😀

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    33. I really liked Roose Bolton. Him, LF and Cercei are my fav. villains of the show still alive (well, not his case anymore), and are among my fav. characters.

      Personally I would have loved to have him as the villain of the North this season. I’ve never really cared much about Ramsay, even if he is more interesting in the show than in the books.

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    34. I will miss Michael’s Roose…he was splendid and I agree he was a pragmatist of the first order. I enjoyed his acting so much I could kind of forgive “the Lannisters send their regards”…..lol. I cannot say the same thing about Olly or Allister and Owen Teale is great also, there was just something about Michael’s portrayal of Roose. Spot on!
      Definitely a great actor imho.

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    35. Michael is shocking gorgeous….those blue white walker eyes…that voice….

      \\shallow\\

      I will miss the character a lot…..best of luck in whatever is next.

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    36. Man… this is a sad one. Roose definitely deserved to die, and I can’t imagine a more fitting end to him – killed in the exact same fashion as Robb, by the demon spawn he created…
      But man, am I going to miss Michael. He’s been around since season 2, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect Roose Bolton. You could see his discontent with Robb gradually building over seasons 2 & 3, up until the moment of truth where he showed his true colours. And I loved the way he could chew Ramsay out without ever raising his voice.
      Best of luck, Michael. I’ll definitely miss you.

      And Elizabeth… Though she had a fairly small role, she made me sympathize with Walda from the get-go, when she said “Hello” to Ramsay in season 4. With just that one word, Elizabeth conveyed so much – Fear, curiosity, uncertainty, relief… And of course, what can I say about her final moments that hasn’t already been said? That was just heartbreaking. Figures the first Frey to die would be the only one I like…
      Best of luck to you as well, Elizabeth.

      Game of Thrones has lost two (well, three, but that’s a different Curtain Call) great actors today…

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    37. Michael McElhatton was just amazing!!

      I always disliked Roose in the books, the leeches and whispering always felt a bit to much for me.
      But god did he do a brilliant job! While I do ”hate” the character, because of him I was hoping for more Bolton scenes. He was just amazing.
      He’s voice, the looks in his eyes, the way he moved… A amazing actor.

      Elizabeth had quite a small role but she did a very good job at making us like Walda.
      Again the casting was perfect, a minor role in witch the actor managed to make quite a strong impression. Was sad to see her go.

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    38. ”The Lannisters send their regards” was a amazing line that Michael took it to another level.

      A iconic line, that perhaps wouldn’t be so without him.

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    39. Michael McElhatton was great. I loved his scene with Ramsay last season where he tells him about his mother.

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    40. McElhatton will allways be one of the best actors in the show. Unfortunately, he’ll also be one of the most underrated.
      I really hope they cast him as The Vulture or Norman Osborn in the new Spider-Man film.

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    41. Great writeup, I’ll miss Roose/Mcelhatton.

      Webster didn’t have much to do as Fat Walda but frankly I’m pleasantly surprised they gave her speaking lines at all, I feared she’d just be in the background. The books had a few added characterization details which make her interesting — Fat Walda is actually fairly intelligent, the whole thing that she’s grateful to Roose because she was a low-ranking Frey but now gets to be married to the ruler of a new Great House, etc. And it’s interesting that Roose of all people surprised even himself by finding Fat Walda kind of endearing. A lot of this can still be kind of conveyed through Webster’s performance and such (i.e. the fact that Roose doesn’t disparage her or anything but they seem to get along well).

      Always funny when you freak out as book characters are introduced who are minor at first but grow later: i.e. my family didn’t think Theon was interesting in Season 1 and wondered why I focused so much on him. Same thing with Roose Bolton to an even greater degree: just how much everyone *freaked out* when he first appeared in Garden of Bones and just gave a note-perfect performance, but we knew he’d be more important later. To a lesser degree, even Fat Walda – how giddy you get when she first appears on screen in Season 4, even though admittedly she’s not a huge character.

      Ah, so it goes.

      In Nina Gold we trust.

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    42. Considering that he’s a cold, detached, murderous, traitor who stabbed the King in the North through the heart, I’ve always had a somewhat strange affinity for Roose Bolton. Every appearance of his makes me irrationally happy. Michael McElhatton is the preeminent reason for that affection. He was, in a word, spectacular.

      I had never heard of McElhatton before he was cast in Game of Thrones, but I certainly have now. He’s an incredibly talented actor, and if you’ve listened to any interview he’s ever given, you’d know that he’s a warm, intelligent, and gracious gentleman with a quick laugh. His true nature was a far cry from that of the character he played, which of course made his transformation into the fearsome Lord of the Dreadfort all the more exceptional.

      While McElhatton’s version of Roose may lack some of the more overtly sinister features of his counterpart in the novels, if anything I found him more compelling in the show. When he adopted the mantle of Lord Bolton, McElhatton’s deep voice, icy charisma, and effortless confident screen presence perfectly accentuated the ruthless and commanding nature of his character. Add in his ease with deploying Roose’s wry sense of humor, and you have an extremely formidable but still recognizably grounded creation.

      Above all, Roose was a pragmatist, one who seldom engaged in cruelty that could be considered senseless (unlike the bastard son who would prove to be his undoing). Yet that didn’t mean that he was above playing his games when he knew that it would not cost him any advantage. The way that he softly toyed with Jaime’s terror about the fate of his sister in Harrenhal is a brilliant moment – a perfect example of twisting the knife, but not too far. Unlike Ramsay, Roose always knew just how deep to sink the blade into his adversary, so that when he removed it, his victim would fall to his knees rather than scream.

      It was that balance of cruelty and pragmatism that Michael McElhatton so expertly maintained. As much as I like Roose in the novels, he does occasionally skirt along the edge of supervillain territory. McElhatoon never crossed that line. Of course, his Roose wasn’t introduced as an overt antagonist, which is part of what made his arc on the show so thrilling to watch. We first met him in “Garden of Bones”, striding across the bloodstained fields of Oxcross at the right hand of Robb Stark. He was advocating for the Lannister prisoners that the Stark forces have taken to be tortured for information and then executed. It was a brutal suggestion that might strike modern audiences as barbaric, but which made perfect sense by the cruel calculus of this world. McElhatton was superb in that scene, and never lowered the bar on what we could expect.

      I love the decision to keep Roose by Robb’s side during Season 2. He’s presented as a harsh but valuable advisor who Robb respects and keeps council with, even if he doesn’t quite like him. That allows the show to build up to Bolton’s betrayal gradually, rather than glaringly advertising from the beginning (as the books do) that Lord Bolton is bad news. Yet when the betrayal came, McElhatton sold us on every beat of that moment’s devastating inevitability, from the way his cold stare invited Catelyn to pull back his sleeve and reveal the chainmail hidden underneath to the remorseless savagery with which he drove his dagger into Robb’s heart and whispered those fateful words: “The Lannisters send their regards.”

      It was only after the bloody work had been done that Roose allowed himself to smile. When Lord Frey raised a mocking toast to the Young Wolf as the two men stood alone in the bloodstained hall, McElhatton showed the audience what could be considered Roose’s true face. The Boltons had been seeking to supplant the Starks for thousands of years, since the days of legend. Now, the last legitimate descendant heir to the Red Kings had ended another legend before it could achieve immortality. The Young Wolf would remain, in Roose’s own words, “Forever young.”

      Yet even then, Lord Bolton was thinking about his next move – considering the implications of the Blackfish’s escape and plotting his move to Winterfell. And of course, he was also contending with the actions of his bastard son. “Ramsay,” Roose said, “Ramsay has his own way of doing things.”

      Roose was never all that sentimental or introspective, but I’d like to think that his murder of Robb Stark crossed the character’s mind in his final moments. Sudden as it was, there was such artistry in his death. I absolutely love the parallels that many people have noted in this scene between the way that Roose stabbed Robb in the heart and the way in which Ramsay in turn stabs Roose. But equally interesting are the parallels between Roose’s death and the way that his fellow cold and calculating architect of the Red Wedding met his own end.

      Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton shared many qualities – a deep capacity for cruelty, a sharp aptitude for the game, and the tyrannical shadow they cast over the children. The writers of Game of Thrones drew what I consider to be a very clear connection between the two men and how they treated the sons that they regarded as illegitimate. Ramsay grew up as a bastard, and Tyrion might as well have been one. Nevertheless, both sons were driven to please their cruel fathers, and were eventually granted real power. But after a perceived failure, both men were set up for a fall, and their fathers threatened to set them aside. And ultimately, the sons slew their fathers before those fathers could cast them aside forever.

      The key difference, of course, is that Tyrion somehow managed to remain a relatively kind and thoughtful person despite having Tywin as a father, while Ramsay became rotten to the core. It raises an interesting question about nature versus nurture, and the extent to which it matters. But it can’t be a coincidence that the two men who arguably played the game better and more ruthlessly than anyone else were undone by the sons they kept close, for better or worse. Both men knew the importance of family and the ties of blood – even if they had no use for the love that usually accompanies those bonds. Those ties became a chain that neither man was able to sever before it brought them down. Unfettered, Tywin and Roose might have ruled the world … and for a time, they did. But no one man can reign forever. In time, it’s only the family name that lives on – all that lives on.

      We can find what I believe to be the strongest and most elegant connection between the two men’s stories in something that they were seldom known for: a moment of mercy. When Tyrion was born, Tywin wanted to carry him into the sea and let the waves wash him away. Yet he allowed his deformed son to live, because he was a Lannister. Roose might have thrown the child he conceived with the miller’s wife in horrific fashion into the river … “But then I looked at you, and I saw then what I see now. You are my son.”

      When Tywin died, he cursed Tyrion with the most venomous remark he could muster “You are no son of mine.” As Ramsay’s knife entered his heart and Lord Bolton fell to his knees, Roose remained silent. He could not say the same, even if he had found the strength to speak. Bastard or legitimate, Ramsay was his firstborn, through and through.

      Tywin had no choice but to pass his name to the son who would later murder him, but Roose did. He bestowed the Bolton inheritance onto a mad dog – a useful weapon that he believed he could control. Ultimately, it proved to be his only real mistake. Retrospectively, it adds an ominous (and, if you’re so inclined, tragic) bent to the moment in “The Lion and the Rose” when he looks into his son’s eyes and whispered “I placed far too much trust in you.”

      Even talking about Roose’s death makes me feel sad, yet I have to concede that his time on the show had just about run its course. All told, it’s hard to imagine a more poetic end for Lord Bolton. But the loss of Michael McElhatton will be deeply felt. Even amidst the amazing roster of actors that the show has given us, he was easily one of my very favorite cast members – a treasure both onscreen and off. I want to thank him for the brilliant work he did on Game of Thrones for five seasons, and I wish him all the best in the future.

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    43. While McElhatton’s version of Roose may lack some of the more overtly sinister features of his counterpart in the novels, if anything I found him more compelling in the show. When he adopted the mantle of Lord Bolton, McElhatton’s deep voice, icy charisma, and effortless confident screen presence perfectly accentuated the ruthless and commanding nature of his character. Add in his ease with deploying Roose’s wry sense of humor, and you have an extremely formidable but still recognizably grounded creation.

      Yes, I think this conveyed the “spirit” of book-Roose’s personality better, than if they went with a guy who mutters and whispers so softly you can’t hear him very well on-screen. It keeps the point that his voice is outwardly…”polite” and “deliberate”, even moreso than Tywin (who has an edge of sternness).

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    44. Fantastic job from both actors. Micheal always was Roose, the stuff in Season 3 with him having to deal with Robb is especially good. This season I really wasn’t sure if Roose would stab Ramsey instead but then of course, it has to be the complete bastard that survives, rather than just the figurative one…

      Walda was so well realized – her character is pretty small both book and screen but she was a delight in every scene, even if she was existing mostly as a “kick the dog” character for Ramsey. I was SO UNCOMFORTABLE when he was nice to her in their initial scenes.

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    45. Michael McElhatton was a treasure. I loved the way he needled Jaime by taunting him with the possibility of his sister’s death and mocked him about having overplayed his “…position”; his sly look to Cat when she noticed his chain mail; and the way he went toe to toe with Ramsay. And that voice! Like liquid velvet. Beautiful.

      Elizabeth Webster’s casting as Walda was top-notch. She was so sweet, endearing and likeable, and there was wrenching pathos in her last scene. Hope I see her in lots more stuff.

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    46. Two actors that brought a quiet strength to their roles. They made us feel more for their characters deaths than we had any justifiable right to feel.

      Well done to you both! You will be missed!

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    47. Elizabeth Webster is a textbook example of how casting the right actor can take a character that should be paper-thin and turn them into someone worthy of celebration. Out of all the characters I ever thought I’d feel sympathy or affection for, Lady Walda Bolton (neé Frey) was pretty damn low on the list. Yet Webster gave her a depth of humanity that reminds us that every life lost on this show has value, no matter how small their role in the great game is.

      When we first met Webster’s character Season 4’s “The Lion and the Rose”, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting all that much. The whole construct of “Fat Walda” seemed destined to serve as little more than as the punchline to a joke (though admittedly quite a funny and insightful one). When Roose revealed during the Red Wedding that he had married Walder Frey’s heaviest granddaughter in order to gain the biggest dowry, it was good for an uneasy laugh. The moment was quickly revealed to be foreshadowing for Roose’s opportunism and pragmatic nature, which would manifest itself in bloody fashion just a few minutes later when he murdered the King in the North and joined his new in-laws in celebrating the downfall of House Stark.

      Little more was required from Walda. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had been played by an extra, or hadn’t been cast at all. When Roose brought his new wife to the Dreadfort to meet his bastard son, my initial response was nothing more than a knowing smile as she clambered down from her horse. Hey, there’s Fat Walda. I didn’t expect much else. But then Ramsay, putting on his warmest and most diplomatic façade, strode up to her and kissed her on the cheek, greeting as “Mother.” Walda looked completely flustered, as if she had never expected to be greeted in such a way. And then she smiled – widely, brightly, genuinely. “Hello!”

      One word. That’s all it took to change my opinion of Walda. From that one brief interaction, it was clear that this woman possessed none of the bitterness and cruelty that defined her grandfather or her husband. She was possessed of a relative sweetness and innocence that none of her kin could lay claim to. At that point, even calling her “Fat” seemed pejorative – from then on, she was just Walda to me. She didn’t appear again until Season 5, but that one scene established her as someone we could set apart. All of the Boltons and the Freys need to die for what they did to the Starks, the general consensus among the fandom seemed to emerge. Except for Walda. She deserves to live.

      Of course, that was Walda’s inherent tragedy. Such a character was never fated to last long amidst such a brutal family. I don’t expect that her life at the Twins was all that easy, yet she rose above her station found herself married to the Warden of the North. Like his counterpart in the novels, Roose Bolton appeared to be oddly fond of his wife, and strange as it is to imagine, they seemed almost … happy? Had Roose lived, she might have lived a safe and long life within the walls of Winterfell.

      Yet from the moment it was revealed that Walda was pregnant with Roose’s legitimate son, the clock on her life expectancy was set. I knew before Season 6 began that Walda would not survive. From the moment Ramsay plunged his knife into his father’s heart, it was clear that she was in her final moments. The prospect of such an inevitable could have been easy to remain cold as the clock ran out on her life… especially if those who have decried the violence of her death had gotten their way, and Ramsay had simply killed her offscreen.

      But Elizabeth Webster didn’t let that happen. She imbued Walda’s final moments with real pathos and stakes and she pleaded with Ramsay for her life and the life of her son. It was a cruel end for a woman who didn’t deserve such a fate, but it was a great showcase for Webster, who deserved such an opportunity to showcase her dramatic skills before her character’s demise.

      Hard as it was to watch, I strongly believe that yada-yadaing’s death Walda via an offscreen murder would have been an immense disservice to the character. Thanks to that scene, Lady Walda Bolton will always be remembered by the Game of Thrones audience as a tragic figure rather than a joke or an afterthought. This was the character’s logical end – expecting mercy or restraint from Ramsay in that moment would have been foolish. But we owed it to Webster to bear witness to her character’s horrific death, rather than skipping over it to spare our own feelings.

      People love to celebrate that joking phrase from the novels when a member of Walder’s despicable brood meets his or her end: “Mayhaps this was a blessing. If he had lived, he would have grown up to be a Frey.” But Walda did grow up to be a Frey, and a Bolton as well. Thanks to Elizabeth Webster’s performance, we learned that label need not always be worthy of condemnation. Blood doesn’t always tell, and sometimes a flower of innocence can arise even from the most depraved family tree. Of course, such flowers don’t last long in the harsh winters of the North, especially when the snow starts to fall.

      Good luck to Elizabeth Webster in the future!

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    48. Michael played the perfect Roose. I’ll miss that cool, calm SOB. What was that he said about behaving like a mad dog and you’ll be treated like one? Ah Ramsay, you needed him. 🙂

      Walda was so genuine and unaffected. Will miss her as well.

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    49. Elizabeth knocked it out of the park. Michael played Roose well & he seems like such a lovely man. Both will be missed.

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    50. The loss of Roose Bolton did make me most sad. Its one of the downsides of the just starting season: we seem to keep losing the best characters/best actors. Which is not to say the still living ones are not interesting and badly played. It’s just Roose Bolton was somewhere at the top along with Tywin Lannister and even Joffrey.

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    51. If I’m ever reading the books again, Michael McElhattons Roose will be how I imagine the character from now on. Pretty much every scene he was in he got under my skin, to the degree that when that marvelous scene between Roose and Jaime in Harrenhal played out, the one already mentioned often, where he toys with Jaime’s not knowing his sisters’ fate…when that scene played out I wanted to laugh out loud because it’s a brilliant bit of mindfuckery I didn’t mind being done to Jaime at that point. I could only do so half loud, though, because Roose might hear me, and I kind of did not want that. Because I suddenly worried an irrational worry that somehow, against all story logic, he’d gotten his hands on Cersei and done something awful to her. I knew I would feel bad about that solely because whatever Cersei had or had not done at that point, she’d never deserve what this man could do to her.

      Dear Elizabeth Webster. All I wanted of Freys in this show was to hate them. To comfortably cuss them out for being a group of lowlife treacherous c**ts, or worse, whenever they came on screen again. You just had to take away that base joy from me by portraying Walda with that perfect mix of naïvité, intelligence and (especially at the end) dignity, did you? Even now that Walda is dead, it doesn’t have thesame flavor anymore. I am honestly annoyed by that, but I take a deep bow to you for your performance that accomplished this 😉

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    52. Best to the fine actor, Michael McElhatton, and thanks to him for bringing a dispicable character to life – Ramsay didn’t even bother to show his dad the hidden chain mail!

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    53. Also. Got to love that husband and wife got their curtain call together. They didn’t seem unhappy together…

      (no more editing in the 10 minutes after posting? Oh well, double post it is…)

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    54. Very good write-up

      McElhatten portrayed Roose brilliantly, with the creepy vibe, but always with a sense of sophisticated layers and of course hard to read etc

      There’s the Red Wedding of course, but I liked his conversation with Littlefinger as a highlight, seeing right through him “I’d like to read the reply”. Yet of course his character was blind to Ramsay

      Well done to Elizabeth as well, they were despised and the character of Fat Walda was almost a bit of a joke given the whole “weight in Silver” angle but she did well to keep the show dynamic from getting simplistic, eg she’s more than just a villains wife, indeed I would say she was great as someone of near pure innocence placed right amongst the erstwhile villains in good GoT style to prevent stereotyping etc and keep things intriguing

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    55. Sorry to see both actors go. McElhatton’s characterization of Roose was wonderful: so delicately nuanced. The comparisons between him and Dance’s Tywin are certainly valid, though I’d say that Roose was the more sinister villain. He lacked Tywin’s power and his hauteur, but made up for it in subtlety and unpredictability. In the books, it was Doran who had the ‘snake in the grass’ speech, but the expression as commonly used actually suited Roose better (not meaning to disparage snakes, which are fascinating and oft unfairly maligned creatures).

      That said, I’m not entirely sure that I buy the premise that Roose was so unwary of the threat that Ramsay presented to himself, his wife and their baby. And if Ramsay had any brains, he would’ve bided his time until he could make the baby’s death appear accidental. Infant mortality was naturally high in medieval times; he might not have had to do anything. But since this is the way they took the story, I hope that it’s a leadup to Ramsay’s impulsivity becoming his ultimate undoing.

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    56. Both of these actors did such a great job with their roles. Michael was so good as Roose and I wanted more screen time for him. I always loved his subtle ice fury looks that he would give Ramsay. He tolerated Ramsay’s presence because he had no choice.

      I agree that casting matters because of the small role of Walda. A bad actress would have the character be unlikable because she is a Frey. Elizabeth’s portrayal did the complete opposite. Her final scenes were so sad.

      Best of luck to both of them.

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    57. You failed to mention that Michael McElhatton gives the best interviews among all GoT cast!

      In books also, Fat Walda is in a precarious situation, but I did not feel much sympathy for her while reading DwD. But seeing Elizabeth Webster’s performance, I begin to care for Walda, and her last scene was truly gut-wrenching. RIP Walda.

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    58. What a great character and terrific actor. Loved his last scene of Season 3, with Walder Frey. “To the Young Wolf!”

      And Roose’s quiet reply: “Forever young.” Ouch ouch ouch.

      And Elizabeth Webster did a fine job as Fat Walda, a character that barely shows up in the books. Well deserved curtain calls.

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    59. I ll miss tvRoose so much. He was one of the best changes from the books to the show.
      Unfortunately we loose all the old greyzoned villains , Tywin , Roose , Balon , probably Late lord soon and at the end we ll have only the good and the pure villains. 🙁

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    60. I miss Roose already. The cool, strategic and subtle characters have been very necessary to the quality and depth of the overall show. Though i think GoT is doing a great job at the moment of showing how power grabs can lead to a second generation of rougher, more brutal and chaotic power grabs – the mad dogs as Roose referred to in his final scene. Anything goes at the moment.

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    61. classic case of a show focusing more on the “younger” characters and letting the older characters reside in the background. Roose should’ve been way more prominent but because Ramsey was paired up with Theon, they always spent more time with Bastard Bolton instead of Roose, the goose.

      Saw Michael on the Dart one morning, was too scared to say hello. Roose…

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    62. Probably my favourite actor out of the series, all told. Took the best parts of book Roose and made it better. His voice..his delivery…his demeanor…THAT look to Catelyn at the RW. Great stuff, and the first time i’ve shouted out ‘NO!’ at a death in GOT. Great work, Mr McElhatton, you will be missed!

      Bet Roose rues the day he…..ah, never mind.

      Re THAT look, a few of my workmates and myself have adopted it whenever one of us stuffs up.

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    63. Elizabeth may be Junoesque but she is very pretty in the face (to me at least). I hope she goes on to get many more roles. Patricia Routledge is a “fuller figure” actress in the UK who has had a successful career so not being a conventional Hollywood beauty need not be a bar to employment – it might be a bar to being an A list celebrity but then not everyone wants to be an A list celebrity.

      I’d seen some excerpts of Michael M as Rats from the flats but I hadn’t realised he wrote the series at least in part. He (as many other Irish actors in the cast do) did a convincing English accent (it doesn’t always follow). As Roose I loathed his character but had to admire his acting skill.

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    64. One evil person killed by his son. Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

      Kill my son and get what you deserve

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    65. A humongous thank you to the wonderfully talented Michael McElhatton !!! He really knocked it out of the park with his portrayal of Roose, a cold, calculated and very deliberate man, a character who in the hands of a less talented actor than Michael McElhatton, would have seemed limited and underwhelming! And this version of Roose was anything but!

      For a man of Roose’s nature, thinking of the long, bloody and horrific history of the Boltons, he seemed to be the least Bolton of the Boltons, a name to which his bastard son Rhamsay seems much more suited (“If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog, you’ll be taken outback and slaughtered for pig’s feed” let’s hope those words turn prophetic!!!).

      His anti-climatic death was perfectly suited for him…he died on the floor, all his carefully laid out plans, the tapestry of his ambition and cunning, undone ironically in the same manner Rob Stark’s short reign as King In The North was undone, through treachery and a dagger to the heart!

      None of this would have been possible without the work of the wonderful Michael McElhatton (and the stupendous Iwan Rheon!)

      ______________________________________________________

      As for Elizabeth Webster, many thanks, as clearly during her short time on “Game Of Thrones”, she left a clear mark and impression, one highlighted by the tragic end Walda Frey met, together with Roose’s newly born and legitimate heir…Ah poor Walda and baby, they deserved a better ending, where it not for everybody’s favourite psychopath Rhamsay, than ending up as dog food..

      On the other hand…what do you call a dead Frey?! A good beginning!

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