Are you ready to delve right back into the “Game of Thrones” universe? In the prequel “House of the Dragon”, viewers will get to witness the downfall of House Targaryen, civil war, and of course, lots of fire-breathing action from the dragons. In addition, fans will also be introduced to many new characters – one of which is King Viserys Targaryen.
Paddy Considine wasn’t always a fan of dragons. Recently, the 49-year-old British actor revealed that he previously turned down an opportunity to star in “Game of Thrones” simply because its storyline had dragons. He didn’t even bother to read the scripts. Thankfully, he got a second chance to join the franchise and jumped on the chance to play King Viserys Targaryen in “House of the Dragon”.
Q: Who is Viserys?
He’s the King of Westeros. He’s a very different sort of king in that he’s a peacetime ruler. He’s been handed down this legacy — the king who went before him, Jaehaerys, was a peaceful king. Viserys feels it’s his duty to keep peace in the kingdoms and not create war or anything like that. So that’s his mission. But it takes its toll on him: trying to be king in that kingdom is not an easy job.
Q: What challenges is he facing as “House of the Dragon” begins?
Well, by being a king, people are always asking things of him. You’ve got to be a great diplomat and you’ve got to be a sympathetic ear. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing but when you’re a ruler, people want you to behave in a way that they want you to behave. They want you to act and react to better their cause. And so in that respect, he needs to be a diplomat.
Q: Why did you want to be part of “House of the Dragon”?
I really liked “Game of Thrones”, for one. I thought it was great — as television it was a real spectacle at times, quite breathtaking. And I think I’ve been waiting for a role like King Viserys for quite a few years now. I wanted something that was a different challenge. I’d just done a play in the West End and on Broadway [“The Ferryman”] and I felt like I’d learnt a lot from that play. I wanted to apply that to a different character. I’ve never gone to school to learn acting or anything like that – not the technique — and I felt like a bit of an imposter in many ways. I would say that I have very naturalistic qualities in some respects as an actor but I thought that there were parts of my game missing. Some of the technical things. So doing a play gave me discipline, taught me a little bit more about how to be an actor, because I had no apprenticeship and I was afraid of certain roles, and text and things like that. So it just helped me deal with that. When “House of the Dragon” came around I was really ready to play a part like this.
And then I was just relieved when I got the scripts for this and read Viserys: I thought there’s a character there, there are scenes and there’s something for me to do. This guy’s complex and he’s tragic and he’s a myriad of different things. So I was a bit flattered that they’d come to me and had faith in me to bring this guy to life. We did the readthrough early on and one of Miguel [Sapochnik]’s notes was, ‘We need to bring more Paddy to it.’ I thought, ‘Thanks, because by saying that you’ve just opened the gates for me and given me license to go in and play.’ So then I was able to embellish him with a lot more qualities that weren’t really there on the page.
Q: What’s it like to be part of a production of this size?
It was quite a treat just to go on set and see the scale of it all. The Red Keep was a huge set — you could literally move in and live there if you wanted to. It was unbelievable — I’ve never seen anything on that scale. And the Throne Room… the first time I saw the Iron Throne and went and sat on it there was a bit of a buzz. It’s the Iron Throne in the Throne Room! But when it comes down to it at the end of the day all of that sort of falls away a bit — and this is another great thing about the scripts, because ultimately, it’s a very human drama about a family. So you can’t play all those other elements; all you can do is be true to the story. Even with all that scale it just boils down to the characters in the drama. But there are moments where you look around at some of the grandeur and you go, ‘Shit, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.’
Q: How does “House of the Dragon” relate to “Game of Thrones”?
As much as I loved that series and we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for that, I’m just there to play the part of the King. I’m very mindful of what went before and respectful but this is our experience so we’ve got to embrace it and make this our own. How people perceive it is entirely up to them; we’ve done our best job. I think this is very true to the original series: it’s not a spin off and that’s important to say. It certainly didn’t feel like that to me. It’s the same world and you’ll get that from the first episodes. The things that are going on, the skullduggery, the things that are happening within it; the violence and the drama. It’s all well within that world.
Catch “House of the Dragon” when it premieres on 22nd August on HBO GO.
Images by HBO GO.