We’re just a few short weeks away from the premiere of House of the Dragon, the long-awaited Game of Thrones successor series from HBO. Detailing a brutal civil war that took place some 200 years before the original series, House of the Dragon will show us to the Targaryen empire at the height of its power. Thrones famously featured a lot of morally gray characters, and this new series will continue that proud legacy by introducing us to a large cast full of people who shift from hero to villain depending on the moment.
Chief among the troublemakers is Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith. Daemon is the firebrand of the story. When House of the Dragon begins, he is heir to the Iron Throne, second in line after his older brother Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine). But Daemon’s abrasive personality often puts him at odds with many of the show’s other characters.
“Daemon is there to cause chaos and piss people off because, simply, it entertains him,” Smith told Empire. And no one gets more pissed off by Daemon’s antics than Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Viserys’ Hand of the King. “[Daemon] and Otto loathe one another. They’re winding each other up, needling one another. And in the middle of it is Paddy, who plays Viserys. They’re both vying for his attention and his love.”
Otto Hightower and Daemon Targaryen will clash in House of the Dragon
Daemon Targaryen and Otto Hightower will both be integral to the conflict at the heart of the new Game of Thrones prequel. While Daemon often stirs the pot because of his own rebellious nature, Otto is a seasoned politician who is always trying to plan five moves ahead of everyone else. Sometimes that works out in Otto’s favor…and other times it brings the realm to its knees, like when he encourages his daughter Alicent (Olivia Cooke) to go against the late Viserys’ wishes and name her own son Aegon II as the new heir to the Iron Throne over Viserys’ daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen, who was his pick.
Ifans calls Otto Hightower “a high-flying political creature, a black belt in statecraft, a pragmatist and a manipulator.” Daemon will be one of the biggest thorns in his side. “[Daemon is] the king’s kryptonite,” Ifans said. “[He’s] volatile, violent and impulsive. Any influence he has on the king is detrimental to the status quo.”
That last line is especially ominous. Many of the early conflicts in the Dance of the Dragon are driven by Otto’s deeply held belief that Daemon can’t be allowed to succeed Viserys on the Iron Throne. We won’t get too deep into spoilers here, but suffice it to say that Otto goes to great lengths to keep Daemon off the throne, and some of those efforts backfire to the realm’s detriment.
House of the Dragon premieres on HBO and HBO Max on August 21.
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