George R.R. Martin told Paddy Considine he improved Book Viserys

Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

Being a king is hard work. Being a good king is much harder, perhaps even impossible. Throughout the first eight episodes of House of the Dragon, we witness Paddy Considine’s King Viserys go from being a passionate king in his prime to an old, withering monarch, seeing his hopes of peace snuffed out before him

Considine’s portrayal of Viserys is masterful. To play such a complex character in various stages of life is always going to be difficult, but he makes it look easy. He was the glue that held the realm together, and now that he’s dead — after some confounding final words — the peace he lived for will all come crashing down.

Shortly before he dies, Viserys calls a family meeting. With his wife Alicent, his daughter Rhaenyra and their children, his dying wish is for everyone to get along. As the Starks say: the pack survives. Rather shockingly during his speech, he reveals his empty eye socket, symbolic of the cost of being king.

“It’s his chance to show everybody what being king has cost him,” Considine told GQ. “ All the fucking falling out among his family has taken a toll. He asks them to see him as a father or brother, not as a king. Because he isn’t valued as a person while being this monarch figure.”

The thing about Viserys that made Considine connect to the character was how much he cared about peace and duty. Unlike Joffrey, Cersei, Aerys II, and many of the other rulers who have sat the Iron Throne, he wasn’t corrupted by his office:

"What I found really interesting about him was that he wasn’t corrupted by power. He just wanted peace. He wanted people to be happy at the end of the day, but that makes him weak. So what would have made him more relatable, if he was a dictator? If he was a tyrant? Would that be more satisfying? It’s not who he is."

George R.R. Martin loved Paddy Considine’s performance as Viserys Targaryen

Paddy Considine has received heaps of praise from fans and critics alike for his portrayal of Viserys. “I felt my job was to serve Viserys, and I took it seriously,” he said. He definitely did the character justice.

In fact, fans are already calling for him to win an Emmy. Of all the people to praise his performance, perhaps the most important is, George R.R. Martin, who wrote the book on which House of the Dragon is based: Fire & Blood. Turns out Martin reached out to Considine directly. What he said was possibly the best thing an actor can hear:

"I got a text message that simply said: ‘Your Viserys is better than my Viserys’. It was from George R.R. Martin. And I thought: that’ll do it. Thanks for trusting me."

Martin sketches out Viserys in Fire & Blood, but Considine and the House of the Dragon writers definitely added more layers. I think Viserys’ shadow is destined to loom over the remainder of House of the Dragon just as Ned Stark’s did over Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon continues Sundays on HBO and HBO Max. With Viserys out of the picture, the power struggle begins. Westeros is on the verge of all-out war for the throne. Who will come out on top?

Next. House of the Dragon trailer breakdown: Episode 9, “The Green Council”. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels