The seventh season of HBO's tent-pole show, Game of Thrones, is about to make its anticipated comeback but it will be missing a certain blood-thirsty villain - Ramsay Bolton. While season 7 will go on without the sadistic character, his demise has given Iwan Rheon the opportunity to share his inspirations while portraying the character. As it's not an easy task to usurp the grand ambassador of villainy, Joffrey Baratheon, Rheon had to take the help of two comic-book characters and a rock-star.
Throughout the series, Ramsay physically and mentally abused Theon, raped Sansa, let his dogs eat his step-mother and killed countless civilians for his own pleasure. Although that might lead one to think that the actor must have taken references from notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy or Jack the Ripper, the real inspirations behind Ramsay may surprise you.
While talking at Con of Thrones, Iwan Rheon revealed that his inspirations for the character included Heath Ledger's Joker, Dennis the Menace and Oasis vocalist, Liam Gallagher,
"I took the walk from Liam Gallagher [of the band Oasis], and his mischievous side from Dennis the Menace. Those were the three influences for Ramsay Bolton.
I think the scary thing about Ramsay is he could be standing right next to you and you wouldn’t know he was this crazy psychopathic ruthless killer, and then he’d just turn and you’d have a knife in you. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do and that’s quite a frightening thing, and he’ll do it himself. Joffrey would send someone off to kill for him, but Ramsay wants to do the killing."
At first glance, these references might seem a bit absurd, but a closer look provides a common thread that ties these characters together - the penchant for notoriety. In fact, now that Rheon has shared these key influences, it's clear how each of them has influenced the villain's on-screen persona.
Walk The Walk: Liam Gallagher's "Bad Boy" Image:
Liam Gallagher is known for being the lead singer of Oasis and Beady Eye. Apart from his impressive discography, Gallagher is also infamous for his off-stage antics - including punching reporters and even head-butting a fan. In addition to that, Gallagher had an air of nonchalance around him, which was evident during his 2010 BRIT Awards appearance, where (after some brief profanity) Gallagher went onto give his award to an audience member.
Rheon has stated that he used Gallagher as the inspiration for Ramsay's confident mannerisms. This can first be seen when Ramsay walks up to Theon as he reveals his true heritage. A significant characteristic is revealed before he speaks, purely down to the character's movements. The same can be said for Gallagher, who is recognizable on stage even before he sings into the mic (or drops it).
This goes to show how dedicated Iwan is to his craft and also proves that he has a good ear for music. However, he's not the only British influence on the Game of Thrones villain.
Ramsay's Mischief: Dennis The Menace
A boy with jet black hair, who owns a ferocious dog and goes around aggravating kids with a timid nature. Sounds familiar? Although that might be an apt description for Ramsay and Theon's love-hate relationship, it also applies to The Beano's 'Dennis The Menace'.
Debuting in 1951, Dennis and his canine friend, Gnasher, gained quite the reputation for terrorizing his schoolmates, which largely stemmed from his need to add excitement to a dull day. Although he was shown to be fairly reluctant towards academics, that didn't stop him from devising creative methods to live up to his name, Dennis the Menace.
Fans of the show can easily see the parallels between Dennis and Ramsay's childlike characteristics when it comes to torturing those around them. Naturally, they come from very different worlds and the severity of their actions are vastly different, but the likeness is clear.
One particular sequence shows Ramsay chasing down Tansy, with Myranda and Theon by his side. This showcases the character's enjoyment of antagonism. It not only shows how trivial it is for Ramsay to take someone's life, but also gives us a peek at the extremes he could go to in order to break away from the dullness of everyday activities.
Utilizing The Unpredictability Of Heath Ledger's Joker
The late Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is what inspired Iwan to bolster Ramsay's schemes. Ledger's Joker defined anarchy and, no matter how chaotic his actions seemed, he had a clear understanding of his opponents. This helped him to know how his nemeses will react, making him a worthy adversary to the world's greatest detective.
During 'Battle of the Bastards', Ramsay knew he could thwart Jon's strategy by coercing him to make an emotional decision, rather than a strategic one. There are clear parallels between this moment and the manner in which Joker enrages Batman, forcing him to make illogical choices. More specifically, this moment has a clear similarity to when Heath Ledger's Joker torments Bruce Wayne with the murder of Rachel Dawes.
In both cases, the audience needed to be tricked into thinking that the protagonist had a chance of winning. It's important that both characters leave the audience in the dark, as we follow the ambitions of each protagonist. Needless to say, it was wise of Iwan to look to Heath Ledger for inspiration, who provided one of the best on-screen villains of all time in The Dark Knight.
Game of Thrones has had its fair share of antagonists, but none of them have been as sinister as Ramsay Bolton. While Rheon is gearing up to portray yet another villain in Marvel's Inhumans, Pilou Asbæk is already touting Euron Greyjoy to take the mantle of the worst villain in Game of Thrones history. However, the actor has some pretty large boots to fill, because Ramsay Bolton will always send shudders down fans' spines.
Who is your favorite Game of Thrones villain? Let me know in the comments!