Fans of Game Of Thrones will be more than familiar with Daenerys and the rest of House Targaryen, the dragon-riding noble family who once ruled the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
And, for the new series, former Doctor Who Matt Smith got a taste of what it was like to ride a dragon… and it mostly involved having buckets of water flung at him by production staff.
The show’s dragons were created in post-production, so it took the actors a lot of imagination and physical work to create a convincing dragon-riding performance.
A huge motion base, which the production called “the buck”, was built at the studio at Leavesden to simulate the motions of a flying dragon and, while it worked fantastically for the final product, it was hard work for the actors.
“You are on this big plinth and they hurl rain and wind at you,” says Smith, 39, whose character, Prince Daemon, is a skilled dragonrider.
“It does give you a sense of riding an animal because there is something tangible that’s moving, and also having the elements, the wind and the rain, helps too.
“But, you know, after 10 hours the novelty can wear off!”
Daemon, the heir presumptive to the Iron Throne, is charismatic but violently unpredictable, he’s a fearsome warrior and dragonrider who, Smith says, is “dark, compulsive, complex”.
“I found it allowed me to be quite instinctual on the day with Daemon, you’re sort of always on the precipice of something, so you never know what side he’s going to fall on,” Smith said. “Or what side of the coin you’re gonna get from moment to moment.”
House Of The Dragon, the Game Of Thrones prequel series created by George RR Martin and Ryan Condal, dives deep into the history of Westeros some 200 years before the events of the original series, telling the Targaryens’ bloody tale of civil war, rivalry, betrayal and a thirst for power.
It also stars Death Of Stalin and Peaky Blinders’ Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen. Although they felt the pressure, the actors were also thrilled to be involved with such an impressive, entertaining and culturally-important series.
“It’s exciting, I’m excited for people to see it,” says Smith. “There’s a huge legacy. We’re never going to recreate the gargantuan success of that show, it’s its own moment in time, it’s its own cultural phenomenon. But hopefully we can add something to the pot.”
House Of The Dragon, Sky Atlantic, Monday, 9pm
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