Roose Bolton famously betrayed the fan favourite Stark family at the end of Season 3, but Michael McElhatton has received nothing but respect from the fans.
In a new interview with Access Hollywood, Michael discusses the reaction to his role in The Red Wedding, Bolton’s motives as the power shifts in Westeros, and what we can expect from Bolton and his bastard son in Season 4.
Access: Let’s talk a little bit about Season 3 where you became one of two of the most infamous men in all of Westeros. … Are people still inviting you to weddings after that?
Michael: (Laughs) Yes, they are actually. I didn’t actually receive too much hating. In fact, I think I’ve garnered more respect, if anything.
Michael: Yes. No, I didn’t get too much [hating]. … I did a play in London in the summer and there [were] a lot of people that came… you know, fans waiting outside. But actually, no, there wasn’t too much hating and debating actually. It was more respect I would [have] thought. Fear and respect (laughs).
Access: What were people saying to you?
Michael: People say, ‘I hate you for what you did, but shake my hand, buddy. Well done,’ is the general term (laughs), and a little bit more respect and a little bit more reverence, I would’ve thought for Roose. Not bad.
Access: Well, in some ways, Roose is really standing up for his family at that moment. How do you justify what he did? Let’s face it, Robb broke an oath. That’s a big deal.
Michael: Yeah, well, I think Roose is a very cold and pragmatic character, really. He’s a political character through and through and he wants to back the strongest horse really and even though… Boltons have a strong alliance with the Starks… he felt Robb was failing miserably and not taking his advice and making bad choices and he decided to switch allegiance. I think that has been kind of the nature of Roose Bolton is that he is a very cold, intelligent, practical man and he makes decisions without feelings. So to shift power and obviously his own power, which worked out… he took the advice of Jaime [Lannister] and shifted allegiance and joined forces with Tywin and managed to become Warden of the North by the end of Season 3. So that was a good season for Roose, really.
Access: So it’s been a slow build, but we’re finally gonna get more of you.
Michael: Yeah, he was kind of kept to the sidelines, really. He has more to do in the books, but they wanted it to be the shock that it was. I think he was a more obvious bad guy and stuff like that and a kind of creepier character in the books, but they wanted to play [it] for the shock factor of The Red Wedding. So now, in Season 4, there is a major shift in power… and without giving too much away, I am not in it a huge amount, but when I’m in it, it’s fairly full on and it’s about gaining further power basically.
Access: He’s a survivalist.
Michael: Totally! Totally and he’s one of the best. … In this season now, he deals more with his son.
Access: Did you read the books? Is that useful to do, or not to do?
Michael: It kind of is a bit of a double-edged sword. I did read the first two books and kind of did lots of work before it and then realized that the way they’d written Roose Bolton was very, very different to the character in the books actually. … He’s a creepier character. He has a very soft, whispery voice. You can’t read any emotion on his face whatsoever, and that’s not the way he was written in the scripts and I couldn’t play him [the way he was in the books] because it just wouldn’t have worked. So, I felt I wouldn’t read any more of the books. I had to make my character really from the scripts and from the dialogue that was given to me by the wonderful scripts that were there by David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss].
For more from Michael including what it’s like to be back on set without his familiar castmates, and his off camera relationship with Iwan Rheon, visit AccessHollywood.Com.