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INHUMANS’ Iwan Rheon on Maximus vs. Ramsay Bolton

If you get two of the most diabolical supervillains in one room, only one will make it out alive. Duh. That’s just simple math. But what if those two supervillains were played by the very same person? Twist!

Iwan Rheon made himself a household name with his sadistic, psychotic turn on Game of Thrones, taking on the iconic role of Ramsay Bolton for four years until he (spoiler alert but not really come on guys) met his very timely end last season. Now, he’s poised to take on yet another iconic role with Marvel’s Inhumans. He plays Maximus, brother to King of the Inhumans Black Bolt (Anson Mount), in ABC’s comic book adaptation. In the comic source material, Maximus is psychotic, evil and always trying to overthrow his brother. Sound familiar? And based on the trailer for the TV series, it looks like they’re going to be following that same thread onscreen.

So is Maximus just Ramsay reincarnated? Does Rheon just keep getting typecast? Not if you ask him!

“[When] Maximus starts off, he’s an opinionated, passionate young man who wants to change things, and he wants to do it peacefully,” Rheon told Nerdist on the set of Inhumans in Hawaii earlier this year. “He’s ruthless in his plans. [Whereas] Ramsay is a very dark, twisted individual who got pleasure from inflicting pain on people. He didn’t have any real political ideas. He was all about, ‘I’ll go in there, kill all them, and then we’ll be sorted and figure out the next plan.'”

Marvel, ABC

According to Rheon, that’s where the two villainous men differ. “Maximus is very considered,” he said. “He’s a politician; he thinks. He doesn’t do his own dirty work; he manipulates people to do things for him. He doesn’t run into a room with a knife. That’s not who he is. So I guess there are fundamental differences. He’s not evil. He doesn’t want bad things to happen to people. He’s a young passionate man.”

So who would win in a fight between Maximus and Ramsay? “Oh, Ramsay would kill him,” Rheon said with a laugh and without hesitation. “Maximus would just be running away.”

For all comic book newbies (or even comic book experts who may not be familiar with this particular run), Inhumans will follow the Royal Family of Inhumans who live on the moon, in secret from the humans living on Earth. After Inhumans go through a terrigenesis transformation, they all receive some kind of power. But after they are splintered by a military coup, they barely escape to Hawaii where their surprising interactions with the lush world and humanity around them may prove to not only save them, but Earth itself.

Now, if Maximus had his Inhuman powers on the ABC show that he does in the comics, he’d be able to wipe out Ramsay in a fight without a second thought. But according to Rheon, when Maximus went through his terrigenesis ceremony, his “power” was that he essentially has none. The transformation took away his Inhuman gene.

“He has nothing,” Rheon said, calling the ABC adaptation of Maximus “human.” “He can’t do anything. He’s useless. He’s a dead man. It’s a very different take, I guess, using the same core ideals of Marvel’s Inhumans.”

Although ABC has taken away Maximus’ powers (in the comics, he has powerful mental abilities), the network hasn’t taken away his legendary conflict with Black Bolt.

“He’s incredibly loyal to his brother and he loves his family, but he also feels very strongly about the world that he lives in and how he wants it to change and how he believes it should be, so that’s where you get a conflict,” Rheon said. “This is showing, I don’t want to say ‘origins,’ because I don’t think it is. But we enter the world where, I guess, there are no villains. It’s developing as we go along. I guess you start maybe seeing certain people [as villains] as we go along. Maximus, he wants to help the people.”

He continued, “He’s actually genuinely out to help people in a system he believes is wrong and ‘unjust.’ What’s great about this show is it has sort of gray areas in terms of what is a villain, what isn’t. It’s not black and white. It’s a lot of shades to the characters. You could see Black Bolt as cruel because he’s sending all [his] people to live in horrible conditions and mine for resources for them. Is he a villain for doing that?”

While not much is known about the plot of The Inhumans, based on Rheon’s quotes and the official synopsis, it’s clear that Maximus will be the one staging the coup against his brother. So tomato, tomahto, he’s definitely the villain of the story, right?

“When you get asked to do something for Marvel and it’s such an interesting question that although on paper might seem quite similar to Ramsay Bolton or whatever, he’s very different,” Rheon promised. “He’s a politician more than anything. He’s not a vicious person just going around doing things because he can and he wants to. It’s just something like what’s the point of being an actor if you don’t take on these roles? It’s being part of a completely different world and create a whole universe that you exist in. It’s a very different thing.”

What do you think of the big Maximus twist? Do you think Rheon has the market cornered on playing a terrifying villain? Tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum and let’s discuss!

Images/video: Marvel, ABC

Inhumans will premiere the first two episodes exclusively in IMAX theaters on Sept. 1 for two weeks before its debut of the full series on Sept. 29 on ABC.

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