House of the Dragon star Steve Toussaint says his character’s locs are very important to the world in the Game of Thrones prequel series.
For years, fans sat riveted by the original global phenomenon. The HBO series ran for eight seasons and centered on the brewing war of power amongst the noblest houses of Westeros, including the Starks, Lannisters, Greyjoys, Tyrells, and Martells. Now, we are returning to George R.R. Martin’s stunningly colorful world in House of the Dragon.
Created by Martin and Ryan Condal, the series is set some 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). House of the Dragon will center The Mother of Dragons’ ancestors, who set upon the Iron Throne and reigned until misogyny and greed incinerated them all.
'House of the Dragon' opens at the end of King Jaehaerys Targaryen's life.
Without an heir to take over as king, he chooses his grandson, Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), to take the Iron Throne over Viserys’ cousin, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), who has the direct blood claim to the throne.
Zipping forward in time, we meet the “Queen Who Never Was,” again along with her husband, seafarer Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), the kingdom’s richest man. With trouble brewing in Westeros after King Viserys names his only living child, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock as a teen, Emma D’Arcy as an adult), as his heir, this dynamic duo could stir up some trouble.
Ahead of the 'House of the Dragon' series premiere, Shadow and Act spoke with Best and Toussaint about stepping aboard such an iconic franchise, Coryls' silver locs, and why the dynamic between Corlys and Rhaenys could change the course of history.
“I think they work really well as a couple, but it is probably the healthiest and best relationship we see on the show. Certainly on this season anyway,” Best said of Corlys and Rhaenys’ marriage. “In terms of a relationship that has lasted and is founded on good things like respect and love and listening, fighting but making it up, and growing together. And also being diverse, which is another wonderful aspect to it.”
From the pilot, the bond between the pair is palpable. It’s also evident that Coryls’ has some real tension with Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King, who is also desperate to make his mark in history. However, Coryls’ relationship with Rhaenys keeps that tension from bubbling over — at least for now.
“I think that Corlys can sometimes be a little headstrong, but the one person he listens to is his wife,” Toussaint said. “Even if he doesn’t always take the advice immediately, a little way down the road, he’s kind of like, ‘Yes, I suppose you were right,’ and then does in the end. But it’s, based on mutual respect.”
While Rhaenys is a dragon rider, Corlys has the sea in his veins.
“It’s super well balanced,” Best explained. “It feels that in terms of archetypes, he is a very masculine man, in his strong masculine, fighting, powerful, charismatic out in the world dynamic, and it feels like she’s a very strong feminine woman, holding her feminine strength very calmly and with poise and grace. So they’re balancing each other really nicely.”
House of the Dragon has a different cast and crew from Game of Thrones (except for co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik, who directed some of the most significant episodes of the original series). It’s also learning from some of Thrones’ missteps, including the show’s lack of diversity.
Toussaint is a Barbadian-British actor, and his presence on screen is powerful and commanding, even down to the styling of his character's loc'd hair.
“That was a decision made very early on,” he said. “I think the most input that I had was probably the length, but we knew it was going to be locs, we knew it was going to be that. It’s the most natural thing, and it works in this world, this realm.”
While House of the Dragon is a brand new show, stepping into the void left by its predecessor series certainly brings up some feelings. “There were several conflicting thoughts,” Toussaint said. “We were very lucky that it’s a prequel. It would’ve been much harder to be a sequel and therefore have to call back to that show. But being the ancestors of those characters was a good thing because it meant that we could set a new world.”
'House of the Dragon' premieres on August 21, 2022 on HBO.
Aramide A. Tinubu is a film critic, consultant and entertainment editor. As a journalist, her work has been published in Netflix’s Tudum, EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or A Word With Aramide or tweet her @wordwitharamide.