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Listen: Richard Madden Breaks Down Playing a ‘Bodyguard’ With PTSD

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, “Bodyguard” star Richard Madden sits down with Variety‘s features editor of TV, Danielle Turchiano, to talk about playing a former soldier with PTSD, who is tasked with protecting Britain’s Home Secretary.

“In a lot of movies and television we see PTSD as someone closes a door too loud or a car backfires and our subject suddenly is transported back to Afghanistan in the middle of this fighting and men are dying,” Madden says. “That does happen sometimes for people with PTSD — they have flashbacks like that — but that’s not the only thing that happens.”

Madden shares that he was most interested in bringing to life the daily struggle of someone in that position — the anxiety and depression that comes with the disorder.

“The character [is] in denial of his PTSD and trying to hold it back from everyone around him, particularly his loved ones,” he explains. “But we get to see the effect that it’s obviously had on his life and his marriage. … This is the big thing he avoids.”

Madden’s role was extra complicated by the fact that his character, David Budd, doesn’t align politically with the beliefs and votes of the woman he is hired to protect. “He…blames her for the fact that his feet were on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he admits.

Having the training of a soldier, though, David puts his task and duty first. There, not only is he protecting the Right Honourable Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) from the multiple attempts on her life, but he is helping himself, as well.

“He’s got this thing, it’s kind of like the knight in shining armor syndrome of wanting to be this hero and this good guy,” he says. “If she’s intact then he’ll be intact.”

Madden admits that there were often moments where he would get the scripts and not see some of the twists of the show coming. One example was the budding personal relationship between David and Julia but, he adds, building the necessary chemistry came naturally.

“The two characters are very independent people and very lonely people,” Madden says. “That’s kind of what it’s like any time you start an acting job. You’re there, you’re by yourself, and you’re thrust into surviving. So I suppose we kind of did that together.”

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday. Subscribe on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud, or anywhere you download podcasts. You can find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

Let us know what you think of Variety’s podcasts: Email us at podcasts@variety.com to offer comments, suggestions, and ideas for interview subjects you’d like to hear from. 

Richard Madden photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

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