It can now be confirmed that Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon is definitely pursuing the “Dance of Dragons” civil war from Westerosi history, and one of the key figures that led to that conflict has just been cast: Meet your Viserys I in Paddy Considine.
The news was announced by HBO Monday evening, with the premium cable network revealing the English-born Considine is stepping into the crown of Viserys I after playing Mr. Martin on HBO’s The Third Day. The actor has previously appeared in The Outsider, The Death of Stalin, and Hot Fuzz.
As confirmed by HBO, Considine will play Viserys I, the grandson of The Old King, wise Jaehaerys I. Selected to be king by a noble retinue of Westerosi lords at Harrenhal, Viserys earned the crown due to his kind and reasonable temperament. But as HBO warns, “Good men do not necessarily make good kings.”
Aye, if you know your Westerosi history—and even if you don’t—Viserys I is crucial to what will likely be the series-long conflict of House of the Dragon. A well-meaning figure, Viserys I emulated the Philosopher King image of his grandfather, but his fecklessness was symbolized by the fact he never bonded with another dragon after the death of Balerion the Black Dread, his one mount which was already old and graying before it died prior to Viserys’ coronation.
Viserys attempted to lead his kingdom well, choosing as his heir the only living child from his first marriage, Rhaenyra Targaryen. Rhaenyra was a daughter born to Aemma of House Arryn, and was therefore intended to be the first Targaryen Queen to rule Westeros without a king. However, the less than Woke feudal society in Westeros, and its male lords, balked at the idea, with the noble houses soon lining up behind a son born from Viserys’ second marriage to Alicent Hightower—a son named Aegon. With the lords backing the so-called Aegon II over a young woman who had the Iron Throne by rights, a civil war will soon break out.
It’s long been speculated by fans that the Dance of Dragons would be the basis for the new HBO television series. While press materials continue to say House of the Dragon will be based on all of George R.R. Martin’s fictional history of the Targaryen dynasty, Fire & Blood, and set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, it seemed doubtful the series would actually be based on the whole book, which spans centuries, or the events literally 300 years prior to Game of Thrones. After all, in that era Aegon the Conqueror and his two sisters spent years doing what Daenerys Targaryen did once to King’s Landing in a highly controversial series finale.
Instead the more intricate, and less well known drama, around the Dance of Dragons (one of several Targaryen civil wars) seems more potent for long-form drama, albeit one set less than 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It also can exploit a rich source of history as complex as the War of the Roses, which loosely inspired many of the events in Game of Thrones. For if you want to see another brutal, bloody British conflict that lasted generations but was then given a wilting title, read up on England’s “The Anarchy.”
House of the Dragon was co-created by Ryan J. Condal (Rampage, Colony) and George R.R. Martin, with Condal writing the 10-episode series alongside Sara Lee Hess. Condal serves as co-showrunner beside director Miguel Sapochnik, who directed many of the blockbuster episodes of Game of Thrones, including “The Battle of the Bastards,” “Hardhome,” and the contentious “The Bells.”
House of the Dragon is expected to premiere in 2022.