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Considine stars in the hugely anticipated Game of Thrones prequel as King Viserys Targaryen, ruler of Westeros during a period about 200 years prior to the events that unfolded in the original series
British actor/writer/director Paddy Considine’s screen credits extend back to the late 1990s, including roles in such films as acclaimed 2002 drama In America (playing the patriarch of a family of Irish immigrants starting over in NYC), Cinderella Man, The Bourne Ultimatum and more. TV roles include DI Jack Whicher in British crime drama The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher and Father John Hughes in Peaky Blinders.
Considine stars in the hugely anticipated Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon as King Viserys Targaryen, ruler of Westeros during a period about 200 years prior to the events that unfolded in the original series. Sitting on the Iron Throne, Viserys’s reign over the Seven Kingdoms has been marked by peace and prosperity—until a civil war breaks out that pits Targaryen against Targaryen, all armed with the might of dragons.
Q: Where were you when you found out you’d landed a role on House of the Dragon?A: I was on an indie film in Ireland getting paid nothing—I still haven’t been paid for it now and that was, like, two years ago—and I’m getting a call from my agent, who is going, “Have you watched Game of Thrones? They’re making a kind of prequel, if you like.” And I looked at the hotel walls—I wasn’t allowed out, I was in quarantine—and I was like, “Yeah, that sounds like a good proposition. What do they want me to do? I’ll do anything.” It was great.
Q: What was your first impression when you read the material?A: When I opened the script and actually read it—I got the first three episodes—I was like, “Oh, OK, I’ve been waiting for this.” I’d been waiting for something like this to come along. It really spoke to me, Viserys. I thought, “I can do some good with this.”
Q: What was it that you liked so much about Viserys?A: I thought, within that world of Game of Thrones, it was very rare to see someone who was virtuous and genuine—somebody who was a king who wasn’t driven by power or who wasn’t a tyrant. Having a history of playing characters in the past that are a little unsavoury, it would have been the easy choice [to cast me as one], and I was flattered that they’d offered me the complexity of this character. I thought that was a challenge.
Q: Was there one scene that really helped you unlock the character?A: I think the first episode shows a lot of different complexities to him. The birth scene is a massive one because it’s a tragedy that he never, ever recovers from. You’ll see that as the show goes on. [His first wife] really was the love of his life. But then also the scene where he names Rhaenyra [Emma D’Arcy] as heir. I thought that was a great scene as well because this shows Viserys is a man that is going to entrust his teenage daughter with something. And not only that, but with a great responsibility. He is going to put this on her knowing what it means, the ramifications throughout the kingdom.
Q: What is it like to work on a show that is so shrouded in secrecy?A: Don’t tell anybody, but I left a couple of scripts in a hotel bin at one point. They’re gone now. I didn’t alert anybody. I was like, “It’s going to cause too much bollocks.” But it’s all good. Nothing got out. I’m good at keeping secrets except for when I leave scripts in bins.
Q: Is it difficult to act like there are dragons beside you when they aren’t physically there?A: In this show, I didn’t do a lot of that dragon work. There’s the dragon in the first episode that sets fire to my wife, but wherever there’s a dragon in a scene, you just ignore it anyways because in our culture we’ve grown up with dragons. So it’s a world where they’re familiar. There wasn’t that sense of, “Oh, there’s a dragon on my heel.” I didn’t have to do any of that crazy work.
Q: You turned down a role on the original Game of Thrones. Did you regret it after the success of the show?A: No. I’m not that sort of person. What’s for you won’t pass you by, and I think that’s true. King Viserys came to me. So, that’s how that worked out. I’m happy. I love playing Viserys.
Sundays, 8 p.m. and midnight on HBO Canada