The terrible, real-life analogy that made Viserys’ decline in House of the Dragon such an upsetting experience is shared by Paddy Considine.
Paddy Considine, who starred in the film House of the Dragon, discusses the actual events that contributed to the intense emotion surrounding King Viserys’ decline in health. The most recent fantasy series on the network, which serves as a prequel to HBO’s enormously popular Game of Thrones, details the beginning of the Targaryen civil war, approximately 200 years before Danaerys’ birth (Emilia Clarke). When Viserys, played by Considine, the King of Westeros, finally succumbs to his illness in episode 8, it leads to the emergence of fresh conflicts. Viserys spends the most of season one of House of the Dragon trying to maintain harmony among his numerous family members.
Considine says in a recent appearance on The Adam Buxton Podcast (via Collider) that a tragic real-world parallel made the experience especially emotional for him. Viserys’ diseased appearance in House of the Dragon was difficult for many fans to watch, especially during the character’s last episode. Considine notes that even a fleeting glimpse of Viserys’ skeletal form at the episode’s conclusion was enough to trigger intense flashbacks about his father’s fight with cancer. Considine’s whole statement is below.
“I didn’t watch episode eight, but my wife had watched it, and my daughter, and they were pretty upset with it. My wife said, ‘Just watch the end.’ Years ago, I’d watched my dad die of cancer and he just went downhill rapidly from being diagnosed to being on death’s door. You know, he became skeletal so rapidly. So, when [my wife] showed me that end thing and my face came up I just burst into tears because I looked the image of my dad when he was dying, the image of him, and it was shocking. It was really, really shocking to me. I’d put so much of my mum’s characteristics into this character, Viserys, but when I saw that I thought ‘That’s my dad’ and it was terrifying. So, it was pretty impactful stuff. The King Viserys character in House of the Dragon, I think that’s probably the greatest character I’ve ever played in my eyes. The story was right. The character was right.”
How Viserys’ legacy might continue in Season 2 of House of the Dragon
In some respects, Viserys’ rule is characterized by failure. He spent a lot of his time as king settling minor disputes amongst his different family members, particularly Alicent (Olivia Cooke) and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), as they grew older. On his deathbed in House of the Dragon episode 8, Viserys accidentally sparks a worse feud between the two when he gives Alicent the Song of Ice and Fire while mistaking her for Rhaenyra. The antagonism intensifies in the final two episodes of the series, and the closing seconds of the finale confirm that the two ex-friends are doomed to war.
In many respects, Viserys’ final error signaled the beginning of one of the most tumultuous and violent eras in the Targaryen family’s history. Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship will undoubtedly worsen in Season 2 of House of the Dragon, but a particular scene from Episode 8 of Season 1 raises the possibility that the characters still understand one another on a subconscious level. Alicent and Rhaenyra briefly set aside their disagreements at Viserys’ last meal with his family, both recalling how close they had been as kids. Viserys’ demand that his family get along and Rhaenyra and Alicent’s shared affection of the character are primarily responsible for this poignant House of the Dragon moment.
Viserys’ involvement in House of the Dragon is over, but his impact will endure. This history includes both failure and steadfast dedication to peace and family. Considine’s character may not have been successful in putting an end to a conflict between his wife and his daughter, but he never gave up trying, and Alicent and Rheanya may still be carrying on his legacy. Viserys’ stint on House of the Dragon may have been fairly brief, but it is clear that the character left a lasting effect on Considine as well as on fans.