We’ve seen Richard Madden as the noble Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, the valiant police sergeant in award-winning political thriller Bodyguard, and most recently, soaring through the Marvel multiverse as Ikaris in Chloé Zhao’s ambitious superhero epic, Eternals. Now, the British actor embraces a new role as the face of Calvin Klein’s latest men’s fragrance, CK Defy EDP.
The iconic US brand’s first major masculine scent since 2012’s Encounter, Defy is defined by seductive leather notes, deep bergamot and contrasting bursts of fresh citrus, carving a contemporary image of masculinity; one presented by Madden in the accompanying imagery – photographed in CK’s iconic blue-jeans-white-tee-combo.
“I still vividly remember the Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg campaign,” Madden tells us of his own relationship with the brand, “Calvin Klein has always been something I looked up to, it’s an honour to be part of it now.” Having now cemented his name in that iconic lineage – alongside the likes of Justin Bieber, Jamie Dorman and Shawn Mendes – we sat down with the actor for a brief chat about his new role with CK and his upcoming producing debut.
Alex James Taylor: Can you tell us about your personal memories of Calvin Klein and how the brand has accented your life?
Richard Madden: My first ever fragrance experience was getting a bottle of CK One for Christmas when I was quite young, so I always had a really fond memory of Calvin Klein. I kind of treasured that bottle and loved the smell, it felt like a very special thing because it was the first time I’d ever had a fragrance. Then one of the things I got to do when I was researching to make the campaign was go through all the old campaigns from the past. There are some amazing images and incredible talent that have worked there and I still vividly remember the Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg campaign and all these really cool images they created. So Calvin Klein has always been something I looked up to, it’s an honour to be part of it now.
AJT: And how does your campaign resonate with you?
RM: The fragrance is anchored around the idea of challenging yourself and overcoming internal or external obstacles, which is inspiring to me as an actor who is always pushing myself to do better. To defy is to be a risk-taker and be authentic, which are two things Calvin Klein represents, working with the brand on this new fragrance has been a thrilling experience that I’m excited to be a part of.
“My first ever fragrance experience was getting a bottle of CK One for Christmas.”
AJT: In terms of your main work, you’re producing a new series – congrats. Has it always been a dream to produce?
RM: I never thought I’d end up producing because I’m an actor at heart and that’s what I’ve focused on but the more I work, especially in leading roles, the more you end up producing in a way anyway. It’s just kind of required of you, you end up being creatively involved in the decision-making in the broader spectrum of things. So it actually feels like quite a natural transition, it’s just an extension of what you’re doing in creating a piece, you kind of realise you’ve been producing in many ways for many years. There are great producers who do things I couldn’t possibly do but it’s something I’m excited to learn as I’m going and realise the things I can bring to it.
“There are great producers who do things I couldn’t possibly do but it’s something I’m excited to learn as I’m going and realise the things I can bring to it.”
AJT: How would you say the roles differ, what have you had to learn in producing that you didn’t already know through acting?
RM: I suppose one of the big things is, as an actor you’re usually very solely focused on your character and your place within the overall picture – your focus often leans heavily on what you’re doing and your character’s journey. With producing you have to step back to do it from all the other perspectives as well because it’s not just about your role, you have a broader picture to take into account which often teaches you more about your character anyway.
AJT: You’ve got a busy time coming up with lots of new projects, what are you looking forward to?
RM: I’ve just wrapped a job so I’m excited for a little bit of time off, which is what I’m getting now. I’m excited for that to come out and share it with everyone, we’ve been working on it for a long time. It’s a new series called Citadel for Amazon which is this huge spy thriller but is matched with the drama side of things and has real characters at its core. It’s just something I haven’t seen in television a lot, having all of this action and huge pieces that the Russo brothers are so good at creating paired with very intimate moments and scenes with real people. I’m excited to see how they piece it together and what it’s going to look like at the end.
CK Defy EDP is available now at Superdrug.