Matt Smith opens up about his House of the Dragon reservations

The actor discusses his anxiety over the role in the prequel to Game of Thrones
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2 /

Matt Smith is no stranger to TV dramas. At the age of 26, he was cast as the Eleventh Doctor in BBC's Doctor Who. He played Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown. And now, his role in HBO's House of the Dragon has earned him a Saturn Award nomination.

In the Shadow of the Thrones

In remarks to Variety, Smith recalls expressing concerns over the nature of the show that begins its second season on June 16. He has this to say about the daunting task of following the phenomenally popular Game of Thrones:

"My concern is that we’ve seen this story told. That’s the first thing I said."

Matt Smith

This is, on the surface, a valid point of view. House of the Dragon takes place hundreds of years before the television series based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, exploring family dynamics and legendary feuds at the heart of a family that was nearly extinct in the Game of Thrones storylines. Smith says of the echoed themes that "you can see a market saturate itself and envelop itself, and become obsolete.”

Game of Thrones, with its war dragons and bloodthirsty tyrants and kingdoms-spanning tales of treason, captured the imagination of viewers from 2011-2019, but the reactions to the series finale weren't universally positive and that had an understandable effect on Smith's perception of the next project to visit Westeros.

It's not the first time that he's come into a universe following a beloved and acclaimed performance by a cast and creative team. After being cast as the Doctor, he certainly had his fair share of opinions on his success:

"I would walk down the street, and people would say ‘Don’t break “Doctor Who”!"

Matt Smith

Smith's Eleventh Doctor went on to leave an indelible mark on the show, but this experience seems to have set the stage for his concern that Westeros was too played-out.

House of the Dragon's Daemon in hindsight and foresight

Matt Smith's Daemon is, of course, magnificent. Given how beloved the actor's take on the Doctor was, it is quite the tonal shift to dislike so many of his life choices. Daemon mockingly toasts his dead nephew as "the heir for a day." He marries his own niece after several episodes of manipulating and grooming her. He even sliced a dissenter's skull in two at the feet of the Iron Throne.

It takes a remarkable actor to play both a lovable adventurer and despised anti-hero with equal skill and House of the Dragon is not simply an echo of Game of Thrones. Casting light on the season ahead, Smith lets slip his character's vulnerability:

"We definitely meet Daemon at a point of crisis in this situation, and in many ways, it’s a different version of him. It’s one that’s much weaker."

Matt Smith

There is certainly much to look forward to with the rival houses of Hightower and Targaryen returning to the battlefield in June, 2024. It might be time to return to the throne room to remember what's at stake.

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