He’s previously starred in Game of Thrones, Cinderella and Lady Chatterley, now Richard Madden stars in the opening futuristic tale in C4 sci-fi series Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams…
Former Game of Thrones star Richard Madden stars in the first adventure in C4’s new series of standalone sci-fi stories, Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams.
The Hood Maker: What’s the story?
The Hood Maker is a tale set in a futuristic world without advanced technology, where mutant telepaths, aka ‘Teeps’, are being used by the government to read the minds of an angry public who are desperate to protect their inner thoughts. Richard plays hotshot government detective Agent Ross, who’s sent to investigate when people begin receiving special hoods that can block the Teeps’ powers and immobilise their network. Here Richard, 31, reveals more…
Richard Madden’s The Hood Maker interview
Tell us a little more about Agent Ross
RM: “He’s one of the top detectives in the Free Union, which is kind of like the government-run state, an MI5-type thing, and we’re in this world which is quite strange. It’s explained in the book, it’s not explained in the TV show, which I quite like, we kind of ask the audience to step into this world and keep up, and it’s a parallel universe, really. There’s been a meteor shower 30 or 40 years ago, which wiped out all electronics and rendered them useless, and not able to do that again. Also, radiation from that affected human beings so that some are born with telepathic abilities.”
What can you tell us about The Hood Maker?
RM: “It’s a strange and intriguing world, like a parallel universe. A meteor shower has rendered all electronics useless and the affect of radiation on humans means some are born with telepathic abilities. In Dick’s original story, though, people are more accepting of Teeps and there’s the idea that if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t care if your mind is read. In our drama, the majority is against Teeps because people value their privacy. The stakes are much higher, too. The government has just passed an Anti-Immunity Bill, which allows Teeps to force-read people without permission, so the public are at breaking point and the hoods become very relevant, very quickly.”
What do telepaths look like on-screen?
RM: “They look like normal human beings except they’ve got kind of like a birthmark across their face and bits of their body, so you can tell if they’re different by looking at them, but everyone’s got kind of unique. It’s a little bit Ziggy Stardust, some of it, but it works really well.”
If technology was wiped out in real life how would you react?
RM: “Oh God, I’d absolutely love it! I love not having to deal with that, much to my agent and family’s fury, because I just kind of don’t look at it. I quite enjoy how wound up people get when you don’t respond to things immediately, because I just never do. I take hours to respond to anything, if I respond at all! It’s kind of like bills: until you get the third one it doesn’t really matter!”
Would you go for telepathy if you had the option?
RM: “God, no! I don’t want to read anyone else’s mind. It’s so boring, to know everything, and also I’ve got enough of my own bullshit rolling around in my own head!”
Have you always been a fan of Philip K Dick’s sci-fi stories?
RM: “I read a lot of sci-fi, that’s kind of my bag. I love sci-fi, and I’d read quite a lot of his stuff before, but these short stories are remarkably hard to get hold of, actually, but I’ve been kind of ploughing through them, and looking forward to seeing the other episodes in Electric Dreams, I love his work because it’s always touched with an element of ‘this could happen’. Gateway, by Frederik Pohl, is my favourite sci-fi book. If you’re into sci-fi that book is great.’
After starring in quite a few period dramas, and a little show that no-one’s heard of called Game Of Thrones…were you wanting to move away from that?
RM: “Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to doing more contemporary stuff. I’ve done lots of period stuff, I love doing period things, period things onstage as well, but this was a really good opportunity. I just go for the stories, and I try not to do characters that are too similar to the last ones I played. Ideally I’d like to not be in, like, armour and leggings and stuff for a while, and maybe be in a suit, or just in jeans and a T-shirt!”
Even though your Game of Thrones character Robb Stark was killed off four years ago at the infamous Red Wedding… do people still ask you about him?
RM: “People do still stop me in the street, but I think they’re always a bit disappointed. I think they’re surprised I’m not taller, and more handsome and muscly!”
Do you watch much telly?
RM: “Yeah, I watch a lot of telly, and everything, I kind of plough through it all. I’m watching Ozark just now. I kind of try and dip in and get a bit of everything, obviously things like Black Mirror are great, especially in relation to this, because again each episode’s really different, and there’s really great talent in these things. And obviously I watch Game of Thrones and all the big ones everyone’s into.”
So are you enjoying Game of Thrones more as a viewer now?
RM: “I enjoy it much more now as a viewer, because I don’t know what’s going to happen! I do get inside info, and I have to shout to people to not tell me – I have to just do a blanket ban, don’t tell me where you’ve been filming or who you’ve been seeing lately, it gives away too much information! And I also like not having to critique my own performance, I can just enjoy it.”
Do the Game Of Thrones cast hang out then?
RM: “A few of them are still like my very close friends, yeah. I still see Kit Harrington often, and I’m actually seeing Michelle Fairley tonight, who played my mother, for the first time in a little while. So yeah, we do keep in touch, quite a lot of us quite often. I saw Alfie and Kit and Rose all at Glastonbury. We bump into each other a lot, actually, or try and make an effort, but again, everyone’s all over the place so much of the time that it’s hard to.”
* You can catch Richard in Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams when it premieres on C4 on Sunday 17 September at 9pm