Paddy Considine on King Viserys' Reign in 'House of the Dragon'

Paddy Considine chats with Complex about the "best role he's ever had" as King Visery's reign comes to an end on this week's 'House of the Dragon.'

Paddy Considine House of the Dragon Season 1 Interview

Image via HBO

Paddy Considine House of the Dragon Season 1 Interview

Below are spoilers for House of the Dragon, including for Season 1’s Episode 8.

King Viserys Targaryen is dead. Throughout the eight episodes of House of the Dragon has released so far, the current Westeros king, played by Paddy Considine, did all he could to hold together the kingdom under a Targaryen ruler so as not to plunge the world into war. Despite his best efforts, his passing will do just that, sending the remaining heirs into a civil war amongst one another for control of the throne—thanks in part to a miscommunication about the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy on his deathbed. 

Throughout his reign, Viserys is viewed as a good man and a kind king, but those things often don’t go well together when you need to make swift rulings. Regardless of your stance on Viserys as a king, Considine’s performance is unimpeachably great, and it will be sad to see him depart the series. For a lot of American audiences, this is likely the first time they’ve seen Considine on a stage this large, but he’s amassed quite the CV throughout his career working alongside Edgar Wright, starring in Peaky Blinders, and even as a writer/director with 2011’s Tyrannosaur and 2017’s Journeyman

His directorial eye seemingly came in handy while filming this episode, “The Lord of the Tides,” as a happy accident between him and Daemon actor Matt Smith gave the installment one of the best moments in Game of Thrones history. Considine realized that, too, saying, “These accidents can sometimes turn into really poignant moments. As an actor, if you’re given that playground, and you know that you have the allowance to do that by the powers that be, then it just makes the job so much more satisfactory.”

In the wake of his departure from House of the Dragon, Complex sat down with Considine to talk about the physicality of the role, more on that moment between him and Smith, whether or not Viserys knew the truth about Rhaenyra’s kids, and much more.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

View this video on YouTube

When you first signed on, were you aware that Viserys was always going to kind of bite the bullet at some point in the first season? Or was that not readily apparent until you got more scripts?

No, no, I always knew that it was one season and out. I knew that. When I initially got sent the scripts, I got sent the first three episodes, but in our early conversations, I was always aware that it was a one-season deal. So I knew that there would be a demise; I just didn’t quite fully know the arc until I got all the scripts. What I was really happy about was having one season but to be able to tell a story and have a beginning and an endpoint like that. And to fully develop a character and go on a journey with him was a real blessing. But I always knew that he was not going to make it.

In moments where you have to be like, really drugged out, how do you go about finding the truth of those moments? I feel like that’s something that could easily slide into parody, so what’s your approach?

Well, it sounds morbid, but it’s true: I had parents that suffered. My dad got cancer, and his decline was really rapid. In weeks, he became like what Viserys pretty much became in the final episode. So I’d been around that kind of sickness and watched that kind of suffering. Some of it’s quite horrific, really, to think about that and the awful sounds that my father made as he was in his last days of life. These gargling sounds, fighting for breath, and then also being high on painkilling drugs and things like that.

Without sounding pretentious, sometimes, as actors, you want to take those things and put them somewhere to use in some way because, I suppose, when you’ve seen something that close up that’s so horrific, you’re referring to something that’s very, very real. That’s all I ever wanted to do with Viserys, was imbue him with sincerity and—realness sounds too Drag Race-y [Laughs.], but you know what I’m getting at. I’ve seen suffering and been around it in that way, watching someone die and literally watching that demise. There are things that you can use.

It was strange, those final scenes in the bed with Viserys. We were shooting those over a couple of days, and [the] oxygen levels in my body went right down because my brain was basically telling my body that I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. It’s a strange thing the brain does; it starts to tell your body that you’re sick if you behave sickly. So I had to be taken out because literally, I was, like, nearly passing out from doing those things. Which sounds quite dramatic, but it’s true. It’s a really strange thing. When you start to act and adopt a certain physicality, your body starts to react to it, too. I injured my hip. It doesn’t look like it, but I injured my hip playing Viserys. [Laughs.]

Oh, man!

Just take after take of that final walk down the throne room, take after take after take—my hip went out. It’s only just in the last few weeks got to a place where I feel like it’s back to where it should have been. There are all those little things. Then your oxygen levels [start] dropping, and you go, “I don’t want to be dramatic here...” It’s interesting what the brain starts to tell the body.

Paddy Considine house of the dragon season 1 interview
Paddy Considine house of the dragon season 1 interview
Paddy Considine house of the dragon season 1 interview
Paddy Considine house of the dragon season 1 interview

Latest in Pop Culture