When did you read the books and become aware of the course of Robb's future?
As soon as I got the job, people managed to spoil a lot for me. People would be like, "Oh my god, you're dead! That was so terrible!" And you're like, "What? Oh. Right." I read the books season by season. As an actor, it was a much better challenge for me to make decisions based on the scripts, the first book and then the second book. By the third book, I was forced to bend the path I'd put Robb on and keep the surprises coming. I think the best thing about that was not preempting anything that's going happen—like not giving too much weight to Walder Frey.
What did it mean to film your exit with Michelle [Fairley], who's been your professional partner through three seasons?
We went into that scene with heavy hearts because we really love the show and we love working together especially. The scene was a really hard thing to push through, but the scripts were great and the whole episode was so operatic almost, with how the writers placed little details throughout the sequence of events in the episode.
There's a moment where we look at each other, and it's Robb Stark essentially saying goodbye to his mother and giving up. There's a moment of tragedy and utter relief actually, because these two characters have fought and fought and fought and it's finally over. I think Michelle and I really felt that on that day, and so did the crew. It was a really big emotional moment because we're one big family that's plowed on through this for years.
What was the mood on the set?
Honestly, it was horrible. It was a really difficult day for everyone. There were lots of tears from many people, including myself. Robb Stark with his dead queen in his arms, her stomach ripped open, and blood pumping out of that. His mother getting her throat slit... It was horrific. It was a really disturbing day.
It made me think of my dad: He read all the books and after the Red Wedding, he put the book down and didn't go back to it for a couple of months. I think it was because he ties Robb Stark so closely with me. The journey of that character, the fondness that we all have for each other as a cast and a crew, the character's point of view in the story; it was really moving and not very nice. There was just the total sense of exhaustion. I left set, went straight to the airport and got on a plane because I didn't want to be there anymore. I flew home to London. And I cried the whole way.
How long did it take to shake that feeling off?
It won't shake off until I've seen the episode, so it's still there. It will be really difficult to watch because it will dredge up a lot of emotions that I've pushed aside for a while.
This isn't like any other job I've had because you don't close the book on that character. You step away from him for six months and then you come right back into his shoes-literally the same boots you were wearing the season before, the same costume. It was very hard shooting the end of it, but it's still very difficult for me to process that I'm not going back. It's funny because I'm still very close with all the crew and I've been talking to the hair department and the other actors who are all gearing up and going back into it. I should be getting back, but I'm not. Until I see the episode, I won't be able to put it all to rest.
Did you feel any bitterness in the way Robb went out?
I don't have any bitterness to it because I think Robb Stark dying there in that way is one of the best things that ‘Game of Thrones' does so beautifully, which is just rip these characters' hearts out in front of you.
Maybe it would have been better for Robb to die gloriously on the battlefield, but this is so sudden, violent and horrible. I think that the way that the writers and I have tried to build Robb Stark up, there's no other way we could have killed him. He's been outsmarted, and it all comes from his good heart and his trust that people will do the right thing.