In season one of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, Paddy Considine played King Viserys, the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms—a character whose physical decline became more horrific as the series progressed. The actor has revealed he drew on deeply personal experiences to portray Viserys’ agonizing journey.
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In a new interview with Variety, Considine spoke about how both his mother and father suffered from physical illnesses. His father died of cancer, and when House of the Dragon’s eighth episode aired—the episode where Viserys dies after a prolonged illness—Constantine said that “I was in another room because I didn’t want to see it.” When he eventually watched the scene, Constantine remembered that “the end, when he lies in the bed, it was very shocking to me, because I looked the image of my dad when he was dying of cancer. The image of him.”
The mechanics of an actor playing someone who’s dying are especially fraught. “When you [act like you’re dying slowly] over a period of days, and your breathing’s shallow—my oxygen level started to go down,” Considine recalled. “I had to be taken off set and given regular fresh air, because I was nearly passing out. It’s almost like your brain starts to tell your body that you are sick. It’s really quite weird.”
In the interview he described his experience with his father in the hospital, asking himself if his father was ready to leave or was just too scared to let go. “But sometimes when people pass, I feel like they know. It’s like when a dog goes away to die on its own,” he said. “And I felt that very much with Viserys.”
House of the Dragon season two is currently in production despite the ongoing WGA strike.
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