Welsh actor Iwan Rheon terrified audiences (and the Starks) as the despicable Ramsay Bolton in Game Of Thrones. Now, he’s taking on another, slightly less antagonistic character for The Inhumans TV show coming to IMAX screens and ABC this September in the US…
Rheon will be playing Maximus, a member of the Royal Family of Attilan, and a character known for causing trouble in the Inhumans comic books on which the series is based. Den of Geek was part of a group of reporters who visited the Hawaiian set of The Inhumans in April. While there, we had the chance to talk with Rheon about bringing Maximus to the screen.
How often do people come up to you in line at Starbucks and just fight you for no reason for something you’ve done in the past [i.e. Game Of Thrones]?
No one really does. I think there’s something that happened with the character that, because people enjoyed hating him so much, I think … they’re kind of like, ‘Whoa you’re evil… you are so evil.’ I think people enjoy the fact that he’s so evil.
Could it be that more people are buying you drinks rather than wanting to fight you?
I think more so, yeah. It says a lot about us, doesn’t it? As a race. Generally, I think people know that I’m an actor it and when you see me in a bar or whatever I’m probably not quite as intimidating as Ramsay.
Tell us about the experience making Inhumans. How does it compare?
It’s great… It’s a story that hasn’t really been told before within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s a slightly different twist on a sort of superhero genre where you know they’re not going out there to save humanity or help fight villains, they essentially don’t want anything to do with humans, they’re hiding from the humans.
They all have these wonderful powers so it’s kind of interesting to see what we will discover through the series, how the humans and Inhumans interact, how they clash and what happens during that initial meeting and how that happens.
I think we see a totally different side to what Marvel are capable of and I think it’s a very anticipated set of stories in the Marvel literature that hasn’t really been explored before on film so that’s all very exciting.
You’re no stranger to working on shows that involve high levels of secrecy as this one does. Are you used to that and how has that been because many people also currently don’t know a lot about the show?
It’s kind of becoming more the norm now for me that I don’t say a word. You can see some intriguing stuff but it’s just easier to just not say anything, just keep it vague but it’s really it’s a wonderful relief when it goes on television and in IMAX so then you can actually speak about it.
We saw you filming a scene with Black Bolt, a character who doesn’t speak, and you were acting with three cameras. How is it acting in that kind of environment and how is it to act with someone that can’t respond to you through speech?
I’m quite used to working in the environment with many cameras anyway. As an actor, it blows you away when you think about how much attention there is to detail, how wonderful the sets look.
It’s very interesting working with a character that doesn’t speak at all so you have to communicate with each other through eye contact. With Black Bolt as well, it’s just the thought that if he was to just breathe you’d get blown apart and that’s a very interesting thing. Anson’s done a great job with conveying everything that he’s feeling through essentially looks. It’s something I’ve never done before. It’s amazing.
It’s a slightly different dynamic when Medusa is around because she can communicate as well through a sign language that they’ve developed, which is really cool as well. It’s very original. It’s a totally different challenge, but it generally means I just have to learn a lot more lines which I’m not complaining about.
The first two hours are being filmed in IMAX and we’ve heard its one of them most expensive pilots that have ever been done. Is the action that we’ll see on that level and what can fans look forward to?
There is plenty of action. What is wonderful about it is you got to see a completely different world and this idea that these people live on the Moon, that they’ve been there this whole time and we just haven’t known about it.
They’re hiding. They’ve created this amazing dome which means that humans can’t find it. I think to create this world and what they’ve done fantastically in the physical sets is unbelievable. I think that that’s really where you see where the money is spent. That’s the difficult thing, to create an original world and to you know and to reach all these aspirations because Attilan could be anything so you know you have to create something.
There’s plenty of action in this, but what’s wonderful about it is very much a family drama as well, it’s about the family and their relationships and how they all respond to each other and there are wonderful moments of humor as well as drama and action so it’s kind of go to everything.
You are a Welsh actor so can I ask if Maximus will be the first Marvel character to have a Welsh accent?
I’m afraid not because I think that would have been weird on the Moon. Yeah, that was kind of a challenge because I had to ask myself how he would speak. Obviously it would be an incredible coincidence if everyone on the Moon had American accents, but I’m not really worried too much about that. He’s got an American-ish twang, but as he grew up on the Moon. I’ve gone a bit Moon-ish with this one.
Obviously, the relationship between Maximus and Black Bolt is an important one. Are there other characters and relations and things that you really enjoyed playing with?
Definitely. I think the relationship between him and Medusa is very interesting as well because in this story that they were very good friends when they were younger and I think Maximus always had a bit of a thing for her, thinking that you know one day maybe they’d be together and maybe even be on the thrown together. Then, for her to go off with Black Bolt is kind of always kind of been a bit of an issue for him as he’s obviously hurt.
So that’s going to be a very interesting relationship to develop, but they’re amicable. It’s not that they’re shouting to each other and he’s not like, ‘Oh I hate you.’ They’re part of the family and I think that’s what’s interesting is how each character is part of this family and how they respond.
Everyone kind of looks down on Maximus because he’s a human so he’s not really got any power, he’s kind of looks on as a bit of a runt of the family which is kind of hard for him. Without his brother he’d be working down the mines, it’s just that his brother, because he’s the King’s brother, he got pity, basically.
His function in society has come to him through pity and what his family name is rather his own self-worth and what his Terrigenesis made him. It’s a very difficult thing for him to deal with and he’s had to live with his own life.
Because you and others in the cast have come to Inhumans not having a full script or perhaps not fully knowing what they’re characters are or will become, as well as the fact that this is being shot in IMAX, there are a lot of unknowns. Has it been like a form of guessing or improvisation to see what works?
Yeah, I guess it has. It’s a weird way to work where you don’t know where you arc is going, to do a scene, but that’s just how it is. Obviously, they’ve told us certain things that we need to know, but, yeah, I guess working with the IMAX [cameras] it was great.
Also, because we’ve all been plonked here from all over the world and we’ve just been put in Hawaii, we’ve had to sort of cling to each other so that’s been kind of a nice way for us, as people, to bond, and, as actors, to learn together — especially in those first scenes where we’re all together.
It’s uncharted territory, so it was exciting, but we just don’t know what it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like. No one’s got a clue really. You just have to get on with your job and all you can do is do the best you can. Trust the people around you and hope for the best.
How do you prepare for such an emotionally demanding role?
I guess it’s like any role really, but I do quite a lot of work ay home trying to find out things about the character. It’s all about understanding essentially what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
It seems pretty obvious but that’s what it is. Why am I doing this? Why is the character saying this? You just bring that in and imagine it and empathize with that. I use my imagination really, I learn my lines and I do that. It’s not that exciting, I’m afraid.
A lot of superheroes are American icons but we’re having a lot of British actors play them such as Superman, Batman and, Spider-Man. Do you have any idea why so many British actors are getting these kinds of roles?
I really don’t know the answer to that, to be honest. I think that, for British actors, there is so much more work here in America because the industry’s much bigger. There is a lot more money in it so there’s more different things being created and I think this is a natural sort of pull for British actors to just want to go into that world and be able to do all these roles as well.
Why it’s happening so much? I don’t know I guess maybe we’re just better? Only joking. I think it just happens. It seems to be a crop of very talented British actors coming over at the moment and I think, because of advances in technology in terms of being able to self-tape, you don’t necessarily have to be in the States to do this.
I think the world is getting smaller, the industries are coming together a lot more, and I guess it just seems to be a group of actors at the moment that fit the criteria that these studios are looking for.
This interview has been edited for length and content.
The Inhumans premieres in the US exclusively in IMAX theaters for a two-week engagement starting September 1st. The show will have its official ABC premiere on September 29th at 8 p.m. ET. A UK broadcaster is yet to be confirmed.