Michael McElhatton on Roose Bolton, The Red Wedding, and Season 4
By Lightbringer on in Interview.

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.

Access: Really?
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.


57 Comments

  1. Dutch maester
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    First ever Hodor

  2. Canis Dirus
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Hodor….

    EDIT: Nevermind. Anyways, is it just me, or does he not come across very eloquent in this interview?

  3. Lula
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Forget Iwan – Michael is the one I find myself inappropriately attracted to.

  4. TheMannis
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    The Roose is Loose!

  5. Turncloak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Awesome interview! Season premiere is today! You lucky bastards in the Barclays center!

  6. Matt
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    It’s disappointing to hear that he isn’t in the season much, but I’m still really excited to see the Roose/Ramsay interactions. I’m hoping he’s in at least four episodes (two in the first half of the season, two in the latter half).

  7. ladygrace
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    TheMannis,

    I’m right there with you. So wrong but so good.lol

  8. Turncloak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Hitfix released a preview podcast of GoT Season 4’s first 3 episodes. http://m.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/firewall-iceberg-show-episode-8-game-of-thrones-the-100-doll-em-more

    Positives:
    1) Bronn gets epic screen time :)
    2) Episode 2 is phenomenal partly due to spending half the episode in 1 location
    3) Tywin Lannister and Diana Rigg have great scenes
    4) some interesting stuff going on at the wall
    5) New Daario is a much better fit than old Daario

    Negatives
    1) Reintroduction of Daario was poorly handled
    2) Sepinwall can use less of Ramsay Snow though he admits that this season he feels more like a human being/character than a plot device

  9. House Martell
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Roose has every chance to become one of the most memorable characters of any tv show

  10. Jon Snow
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Turncloak:
    Awesome interview! Season premiere is today! You lucky bastards in the Barclays center!

    The red carpet premiere in NYC in which no one but actors and relatives will be watching is today – the Barclays early screening for fans is on Thursday :)

  11. Turncloak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Jon Snow,

    Ahh I see. Thanks!

  12. Jon Snow
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    Sounds great! Personally I think the more Ramsay Snow bit sounds great. Ramsay becomes an absolutely huge character by ADWD (which is presumably next season?) so I think a bit more introduction is necessary. Also, I’m sure not everyone feels the same and at least show-watchers will probably always think of Joff as the big bad guy, but I’ve always felt that Ramsay is the sickest, most captivatingly evil, irredeemably bad character in the series so I imagine they’ll want to play that up a bit.

    Also – Jerome Flynn is lovely and who doesn’t love Bronn but why so much screen time? What’s he doing? As I recall in the book his one and only scene is refusing to champion Tyrion (aside from the Symon bit that won’t be in the show) which is a big moment for the sort of crumbling of their friendship, but not worth a ton of screen time IMO. Sounds like a bit of drawing at straws for stuff to add to a whole season of half a book.

  13. Turncloak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Jon Snow,

    Yes possibly some new scenes invented exclusively for Bronn and I’m not complaining. Additionally they could already have been showing Bronn sparring with Jaime

  14. Baramos
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    While McElhatton doesn’t whisper, I think he captured the cold emotionlessness of Roose pretty well.

  15. Jon Snow
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    Oh, duh! You’re right. They even showed that bit in the trailers so I’m sure that’s what it is. That’ll definitely be fun

  16. Jon Snow
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    While I get the whole “wanting the RW to be a surprise” bit, I wish they had given Roose a bit more screen time and a chance to be recognized and have his real personality shown to show watchers a bit more. McElhatton’s emotionlessness definitely shows when you see his utter lack of remorse and his apathy as he looks at Cat or stabs Robb during the RW, but I feel like he just hasn’t done anything close to his potential and fans really haven’t seen him much yet. I suppose that’s what the next couple seasons are for, though!

    As far as secrecy, Roose was much more prevalent in the books and I was still utterly shocked at the RW..

  17. Rygar
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    He IS handsome.

  18. Carne
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    pntrlqst,

    Another uneventful season premiere (it sounds like), but that was expected.

  19. cosca
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Carne,

    Pretty sure we’re going to have Arya killing Polliver as the final scene, so it shouldn’t be totally uneventful.

  20. Hounded
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Carne,

    As long as we’re going to meet Oberyn it will be plenty exciting for me.

    And we all know what episode 2 is gonna bring…

  21. Nezzer
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Lula:
    Forget Iwan – Michael is the one I find myself inappropriately attracted to.

    Me too, and I’m a straight male!

  22. wizardeyes
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Nezzer,

    All about Nikolaj for me and I’m a supposedly straight male!

  23. Sean C.
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Roose is a true hero, mercifully ending Robb and Catelyn’s woefully mishandled existence on the show.

  24. H. Stark
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  25. Ser Lucas
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Premiere today. Ill be staying well out of WiC until April 6th. Have fun at Barclays, you fucking lucky flowers.

  26. cosca
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Sean C.,

    Yawn.

  27. jentario
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    Now that I’ve finally seen this Sepinwall person, I can’t say I like him very much. He looks like just another one of those pretentious reviewers. “Oh the Red Wedding sucked because it got spoiled for me.” -_-”

    I can’t believe it’s review season already. The show is coming up, and soon enough we’ll see one of FaB’s twitter posts again and Oz’s reviews and AngryGOTFan’s rants. Sadly, no more WiC reviews, though… The wait has been long, but it’s finally here! And my local TV channel is actually broadcasting the episode live, which is outrageously awesome since that’s in the middle of the night. I can watch it as soon as I wake up rather than a couple of days later.

  28. OurBladesAreDull
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHXWSXgXF6k
    New Video
    “Bastards of Westeros”
    WIC is slacking. Lots of new footage in the video of Oberyn, Roose, and Ramsay!

  29. Balerion The Cat
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Ser Lucas,

    As much as I would like to do the same, my will is just not strong enough. I’ll probably end up having the first episode spoilled to me, but I can’t help myself!

    Why is it that I’ve waited for months, yet these 2+ weeks seem like forever!? ARGHHH

  30. Satin
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    H. Stark,

    Cuties, all three of them. And it might sound weird, but I think it’s great that their parents accompany them everywhere (well, maybe not so great for them, they are teens after all, but it’s good to see they have support).

    OurBladesAreDull,

    nah, no slacking. The video has already been posted a couple of times in the Artisan video comments, and Ours Is The Fury went to some trouble finding it yesterday, as it wasn’t public.

  31. Satin
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    jentario,

    I like to read his reviews, since he’s usually quite balanced, but I quite often don’t see his point. I’ve never seen these podcasts before, and I found them both a little strained, like they were trying a little too hard.

  32. Rabid Grunt
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Turncloak:
    Hitfix released a preview podcast of GoT Season 4′s first 3 episodes. http://m.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/firewall-iceberg-show-episode-8-game-of-thrones-the-100-doll-em-more

    Positives:
    1) Bronn gets epic screen time :)
    2) Episode 2 is phenomenal partly due to spending half the episode in 1 location
    3) Tywin Lannister and Diana Rigg have great scenes
    4) some interesting stuff going on at the wall
    5) New Daario is a much better fit than old Daario

    Negatives
    1) Reintroduction of Daario was poorly handled
    2) Sepinwall can use less of Ramsay Snow though he admits that this season he feels more like a human being/character than a plot device

    My god that guy on the right grinds my gears…

    And how dare he hate on our supreme (true born) overlord, Ramsay. Sounds like someone needs some skin removed…

  33. Hollyoak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Where’s the post about the Stark “kids” on the Today Show this morning?

  34. Hollyoak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like these dumb-ass talking heads on the Today Show don’t even know the damn show. Morons.

  35. Patchy Face
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    H. Stark,

    Thanks so much for posting. My daughter and her boyfriend were the second clip for RW watchers- She is excited that they have gone viral. Har

  36. Darkstar
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    OurBladesAreDull:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHXWSXgXF6k
    New Video
    “Bastards of Westeros”
    WIC is slacking. Lots of new footage in the video of Oberyn, Roose, and Ramsay!

    I am a sick girl, but I love me some Ramsay Snow!

  37. jentario
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Patchy Face,

    Ha! Really?

  38. Jared
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Rabid Grunt,

    I’m a longtime reader of Sepinwall’s – he’s an excellent and thoughtful critic overall. And he does really like Game of Thrones – it made his Top 10 list in Season 1, his Top 20 in Season 2, and his Top 11 or 12 in Season 3. That being said, that segment did shine the spotlight pretty heavily on several issues that he’s had throughout the series – his preference for the story to focus more on a smaller number of locations in a given episode rather than jumping around, his indifference towards Robb and Catelyn, and his hatred of how the Theon/Ramsay arc played out last season. When he has an issue with something, he’s pretty blunt about letting people know. It’s a somewhat strange reversal because his podcasting partner, Dan Fienberg, is generally the one who’s known for being more negative, but Fienberg’s read the books while Sepinwall hasn’t, and overall he seems more consistently enthusiastic about the show.

    Sepinwall’s also had issues with several commenters on his reviews repeatedly spoiling events from later in the series and constantly comparing what was happening on screen to what happened in the books (a truly rare and mystifying tendency that has never happened anywhere else on the Internet, ever). He put an explicit warning asking those people not to do so at the end of every one of his reviews, but they still did it anyway. Eventually, it got so bad that he decided to shut down comments on his Game of Thrones reviews all together. He still likes the show, but I believe that ordeal has muted his enthusiasm to a certain degree. It’s unfortunate, but his reviews are still among the better Unsullied reviews out there.

  39. Stone Cold Bastard
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak:
    Hitfix released a preview podcast of GoT Season 4′s first 3 episodes. http://m.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/firewall-iceberg-show-episode-8-game-of-thrones-the-100-doll-em-more

    Positives:
    1) Bronn gets epic screen time :)
    2) Episode 2 is phenomenal partly due to spending half the episode in 1 location
    3) Tywin Lannister and Diana Rigg have great scenes
    4) some interesting stuff going on at the wall
    5) New Daario is a much better fit than old Daario

    Negatives
    1) Reintroduction of Daario was poorly handled
    2) Sepinwall can use less of Ramsay Snow though he admits that this season he feels more like a human being/character than a plot device

    Thanks for sharing and for the summary. I couldn’t stand listening to the entire segment about GoT with those two annoying dorks.

  40. Ser Pounce
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    good to know some of the actors think the way they are written in the books won’t be good tv. he probably doesn’t like the pink bolton colors in the books too.

  41. ReekReek
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone else reading this in Roose Bolton’s evil, creamy voice?

  42. Stone Cold Bastard
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    OurBladesAreDull:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHXWSXgXF6k
    New Video
    “Bastards of Westeros”
    WIC is slacking. Lots of new footage in the video of Oberyn, Roose, and Ramsay!

    Thanks!

    Those Bolton scenes were amazing. Ditto Oberyn and Ellaria, how they hold their own in the presence of Tywin and Cersei.

    Seeing Ramsay getting the proverbial smack down from Roose was awesome.

  43. Balerion The Cat
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Carne,

    Midnight for me, so I won’t be able to tune in. I hope others are more fortunate with their time zones.

  44. JonSnow17
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Ser Pounce

    Wow some actors don’t believe that all things in the books are wonderful and amazing ? Someone should crucify them !

  45. Patchy Face
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    jentario,

    Yup – she recorded her boyfriend’s reaction because she had already seen. I wish that I had recorded hers – lots of screaming.

  46. JonSnow17
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    BTW i thought the general premiere was on the 20th not today, today it’s only the red carpet premiere with the cast and crew .

  47. Carne
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Balerion The Cat,

    Bit of a gamble for me as I don’t know when I’ll be working, I just get a call at 7 AM asking if I can come in. So, to bed or stay up for the premiere? That’s the question.

  48. T
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Can somebody ask him about his creepy resemblance to Putin.

  49. Turncloak
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Stone Cold Bastard,

    Lol no problem! I actually thought they were better than usual in this podcast. Feinberg is usually droll but this time he had alot of energy

  50. DC
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Jon Snow,

    They gave Ilyn Payne’s role to Bronn as shown in the trailers because internal monologues don’t work so well on TV and Bronn is a popular character that they want to use as much as possible. I imagine the fact that Wilko Johnson being terminally ill with pancreatic cancer played a part too and they didn’t recast out of respect.

  51. mariamb
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak:
    Hitfix released a preview podcast of GoT Season 4′s first 3 episodes. http://m.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/firewall-iceberg-show-episode-8-game-of-thrones-the-100-doll-em-more

    Negatives
    1) Reintroduction of Daario was poorly handled

    Interesting since Michiel Huisman said in the interview posted yesterday that the intro of new Daario was “very cleverly written and very clear from the very first episode that I’m Daario.”

    Really looking forward to how this will be integrated into the story.

  52. Stone Cold Bastard
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    T:
    Can somebody ask him about his creepy resemblance to Putin.

    Or Pete Townshend.

  53. Yan
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I met Michael on the streets on New York City, in the West Village. Very pleasant man, well spoken, sincere. I told him he is basically playing Count Dracula, and he laughed.

  54. loco73
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Michael McElhatton is a tremendous actor and just like the amazing Conleth Hill, he just dissapears into his character. I watch him and I think, hey there is Roose Bolton…not hey there is an actor playing Roose Bolton!

    That is freaking talent, making it all look soo easy, to the point that it feels like you are watching life unfold in front of your eyes and not acting!

  55. Nancy
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I hate Roose Bolton the character, but Michael brings him to life on screen perfectly. He does do a terrific job.


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