Matt Smith talks playing “hugely complicated” Daemon Targaryen on House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon /

Daemon Targaryen, played by Doctor Who veteran Matt Smith, was one of the breakout characters from the first season of House of the Dragon, HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel. Mercurial, deadly and proud, he drove a lot of the plot forward, whether he was getting exiled by his brother Viserys, seducing Viserys’ daughter Rhaenyra, or pushing to go to war with Rhaenyra’s half-brother Aegon, who has claimed the crown Daemon thinks is rightfully hers. You never knew quite what he’ll do, which made things exciting.

But as unpredictable as Daemon can be, he’s working off an internal logic that Smith has figured out. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Smith said that playing scenes with Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock as a younger woman and Emma D’Arcy as an adult) helped him get a handle on who Daemon was. “There’s a sense that his brother and Rhaenyra particularly, are the two people he would go to war for,” he said. “It’s like he’s got this very weird sense of loyalty. To him, sometimes he’s doing the right thing even when he’s really doing the wrong thing.”

"Daemon sort of thrives on chaos. There’s an element of him that’s walking on a tightrope made of glass, and he loves that he could fall off at any time. He operates on his own sort of strange and often violent plane. But to him, the violence is not gratuitous. He’s not doing it clumsily, he’s doing it with purpose and precision. Now, whether that’s right or wrong is for other people to debate."

How Matt Smith hurt himself on the set of House of the Dragon

Matt Smith gave this interview after spending a day on the set of House of the Dragon, which is currently filming its second season. Now that he’s back in Daemon’s boots, he seems full of opinions on the guy. “Daemon’s a hugely complicated creature,” Smith said. “He’s way more sensitive than he lets on, and that gives you something to play against on screen. You can sort of invert it.”

That said, he wouldn’t give anything away about the second season, which is due out in 2024. Instead, he remember how strange it was to film the first. “It was a really weird shoot. I lost my father during the shoot,” Smith told Vanity Fair. “But then I was doing a stunt scene one day and I slipped a disc in my neck. So if you watch the latter part of the season, you can see I just can’t really move, because we had to keep shooting.”

"I had to come back. So I had two weeks off. But it’s a long injury. So it goes from being quite a sort of physical performance really at the end, I just sort of stood there. And I never really moved that much."

Fans can go back and chart how often Daemon moves around in the later episodes as compared to the earlier ones. Maybe that will eat up some time before House of the Dragon season 2 premieres in the summer of next year.

Next. How the House of the Dragon opening credits ties back to Game of Thrones. dark

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