The background of the first episode of House of the Dragon, told by the cast

The background of the first episode of House of the Dragon, told by the cast

The background of the first episode of House of the Dragon

One thing that was never lacking in Game of Thrones was explicit and gory violence (in addition to sex). There were dog tears and skull crushing, giant zombies and involuntary testicular removals. The series certainly did not hold back on the front of the brutality, which at times seemed to pop out of nowhere.

The same could also be said for the first episode of House of the Dragon, the new prequel to the Throne of Spade produced by Hbo and broadcast in Italy on Sky and Now (from here on, SPOILER for those who have not seen the first episode). After King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) calls a tournament involving the whole kingdom to celebrate the imminent birth of the baby he is convinced will be a boy, we see his brother Daemon (Matt Smith) clash with the mysterious and charming Ser Criston Cole. (Fabien Frankel).

At the same moment, Viserys is summoned to the queen's chambers, where he discovers that the unborn child is breech, which makes childbirth impossible. He is given a choice: the doctor can deliver the child to his beloved wife without anesthesia (and without the woman's consent), or the king can decide to risk the death of both of them. Viserys chooses the first option, and the scene that follows, brutal and grotesque, perfectly exemplifies the cruelty of the world of the Iron Throne, where sometimes the only thing that matters is to preserve the line of succession at all costs. The child is born, at the expense of the life of Aemma Targaryen (Sian Brooks), only to die shortly thereafter. UK spoke to the cast of House of the Dragon about the events at the center of the first episode of the series and what they mean for the future of their characters in King's Landing.

The tournament The imposing tournament scene required not only the setting up of the area where the quintana was filmed, but also the grandstands and a platform from which members of the king's court could watch the competition. The stage hosted about twenty main actors and at least one hundred extras were always present on the set. "It was our first group scene," says Emily Carey, the young Alicent Hightower on the series. Filming took place only in the so-called backlot, the outside area of ​​the studio, and Carey says that scene was the first moment she thought, "Hey, this is Game of Thrones. People face each other with spears." .

The actress adds that in spite of the intensity of the scene, the actual shooting actually turned out to be light, thanks above all to Considine and Rhys Ifans, Otto Hightower, who behaved like "uncles a a wedding, where one of them makes a joke and then the other has to make a funnier one, and they keep trying to outdo each other. "

Stunts and horses Although he has claimed to have stayed on set for most of the shooting of the tournament, what we see falling several times is not Matt Smith, but his stunt double, Eduardo Gago Muñoz. "Horseback riding is not my natural habitat," says Smith, adding that he and Frankel entered the scene after the stunts shot the falls.

That doesn't mean the two actors don't have Matt Smith, though. Learned to Ride: Frankel says the House of the Dragon cast took lessons at The Devil's Horsemen, "an old British institution that has been teaching actors to ride for years." Since he had never ridden before, Frankel initially took it easy, starting with a horse that was very easy to handle. Eventually, he says, "you hope to be able to gallop and hold a sword of some kind."

An important helmet, in every sense While most of the tournament participants have A rather simple or traditional armor, Daemon enters the race wearing a helmet covered with ornamental designs and complete with protruding dragon wings. Smith explains that the costume was "quite heavy," around 5 kilograms. "All the armor is quite heavy - he explains -, but it looks fabulous". The actor credits the series' costume designer, Jany Temime, for making the helmet "resembling a dragon, but at the same time elegant and refined".

The queen who never was All 'start of the episode, we see the king's eldest niece, Rhaenys Targaryen, losing the race for the throne to her younger cousin, Viserys. It is a wound that the woman carries over the years, while several members of the kingdom believe that Rhaenys would have been a better ruler. This latter aspect emerges clearly when one of the tournament knights asks for the woman's favors, addressing her as “the queen who never was.”

According to Eve Best, who plays Rhaenys, it was a move "very dangerous from all points of view". In short, the actress makes it clear that her character would have preferred not to remind the world of her claiming to be her throne. "I don't want it to be mentioned at all, and not just because I don't want it to be constantly slammed in my face," says Best. "It was the biggest source of shame in Rhaenys' life, and the fact that it is constantly referred to is really. , really annoying. "

On the other hand, Rhaenys and her husband Lord Corlys Valaryon (Steve Toussaint) understand like few others how the court and the history of the kingdom works. When, during the tournament, he observes that all the fighters have "their hands full of steel and none of them have ever known real war", Rhaenys is actually recalling that King's Landing has been under the rule of the Targaryens for centuries, and the empire has weakened.

"They are pleased - explains Best -. They consumed themselves in a toxic and narcissistic environment made up of smug and spoiled aristocrats". Rhaenys and Corlys are both strangers and accustomed to this world - she as a person who has been bypassed and he as a man who has made himself - and therefore they are able to offer a unique perspective on what is to come.

The turning point of the king It is not the first time that Aemma has become pregnant. In addition to giving birth to Rhaenyra, the queen also had other pregnancies, which ended in miscarriage or stillbirths. This time around, however, Viserys is so sure of the positive outcome that, in an act of arrogance, he literally invites the entire aristocracy of the kingdom to court to celebrate the impending birth.

Considine says the move is inspired by a dream made by Viserys, in which the king saw the birth of a male heir. "He feels so strong in that dream that he is almost like a clairvoyant - says Considine -. He has this great gift that the Targaryens had before him, and he not only loses his son, but also his wife".

Considine explains that Viserys' dream demonstrates some naive optimism on her character's part, but it illustrates well the male world within the kingdom. The loss of his wife, however, represents a very hard blow: "It is a huge turning point for his opponents, and it is something he will never be able to overcome - continues Considine -. He will accompany him for the rest of his life and from that moment on. it will destroy him onwards. "

Everything has a meaning Much of what the audience saw in the opening episode of House of the Dragon - from the ceremony where Viserys is chosen as king to the presentation of Ser Criston Cole - serves to set the stage for what is to come. If you've read George R.R. Martin, you already know what it is, but to those in the dark, Milly Alcock, who plays the young Rhaenyra, assures that "every scene is there to evoke the story"; Carey agrees: “There are no fillers.”

This article originally appeared on UK.

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