Game of Thrones has crafted its fair share of despicable characters over the years. Some are the right brand of bad that is fun to hate, and some are surprisingly not so entirely evil that they can't be redeemed. One character that is just altogether and irredeemably awful, however, is Ramsay Bolton. Actor Iwan Rheon has been so perfectly horrifying in the role that it’s hard to imagine where he got his inspiration. Now, Rheon has revealed an unlikely trio of people off of whom he has based his performance.
Iwan Rheon’s confession to the New York Times about his inspirations for Ramsay would have been hard to predict. Heath Ledger’s Joker, lovable scamp Dennis the Menace, and Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher aren’t exactly three of a kind, although they've all gotten on a lot of people's nerves (to put it lightly). Taking into account the nuances of Rheon’s performance as Ramsay, however, the bizarre trifecta makes a lot of sense.
The Joker isn’t hard to find in Ramsay Bolton. Rheon’s demonic smile as he conveys Ramsay’s glee and amusement at the torture of others recalls the Clown Prince of Crime to a disturbing degree. Dennis the Menace is a bit harder to find, but imagining that Ramsay sees himself as more of a cheeky devil than a sadistic monster adds a fascinating wrinkle to his character. As for Liam Gallagher, his reputation for volatility and selfish decision-making definitely shows up in Ramsay. The three make for an unexpected triumvirate for Rheon to use in his performance, and there’s no denying that it works for him.
Ramsay Bolton proved himself a very bad guy from almost the beginning when he captured Theon. Theon definitely deserved punishment for taking Winterfell in Season 2, but the torture, depersonalization and ultimate castration from Ramsay was too much. His repeated rape and brutalization of Sansa after their marriage made the Winterfell scenes of Season 5 hard to watch. Personally, I don’t find it fun to hate Ramsay the same way that it was could be fun to hate Joffrey. The most fun that I get out of Ramsay Bolton is wondering who would be the best character to enact vengeance on him.
It’s a testament to Iwan Rheon’s skills as an actor that Ramsay is so utterly detestable. Ramsay isn’t crazy enough to be the Joker, entertaining enough to be Dennis, or relatively harmless enough to be Liam Gallagher, but the combination of the three has resulted in a character who will undoubtedly go down as one of the most unforgettable in the entire series.
To see what fresh horrors Ramsay Bolton unleashes next on Game of Thrones, be sure to tune in to the Season 6 premiere at 9 p.m. ET on April 24 on HBO. For a look at when the rest of your favorite shows will be returning to the airwaves, check out our schedule of summer TV premiere dates.
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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