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Steve Toussaint – House of the Dragon

On the surface, this Targaryen civil war has “Team Green” clashing with “Team Black.” But there’s also a lot of in-fighting. What is the main threat that could topple each side from within?

I think one of the things that could take down Team Black is Daemon [Matt Smith], actually. We can’t always be sure of where his loyalty lies. Is he loyal to Queen Rhaenyra [Emma D’Arcy] — his wife — or is he more about himself? We never really get that answer. In terms of Team Green? Aemond [Ewan Mitchell], I suppose. There’s not a logic, necessarily, to what [either of those characters] do. In both camps, the voice of reason is a woman. With us, it’s Rhaenyra, who’s trying her best to avoid war. With Green, it’s Alicent [Olivia Cooke], who’s trying her best to avoid war. But the voices around them seem to be rushing inexorably towards this violent conflict . . . Hubris, I think, is what’s going to bring both down.

House of the Dragon on HBO Canada & Crave. Pictured: Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon.
HBO Canada

At the same time, every character on this show is fighting a personal battle. What is Lord Corlys’ particular inner war?

With Corlys, it’s grief. It’s the fact that at the end of season one he was ready to get out of this battle, go back to his home with his wife and grandkids and just enjoy himself. But his wife, quite rightly, said, “No, we need to protect the legacy of Rhaenyra.” In season two, he says, “What I do now, I do for my wife.” So, he’s gone against his own instinct — because I think he’s realized, actually, that his ambition is what may have lost him his siblings and his children. And so, it’s trying to [reconcile] that feeling of guilt alongside wanting to maintain and protect this relationship he has — and also deal with misdemeanours from the past that come up to haunt him this season.

What is the creative value in tackling grounded human experiences in a wildly fantastical setting like Westeros?

I wonder if the fact that it isn’t in the real world as we know it means that you can concentrate more on the issue at hand. If it doesn’t have the trappings of modern-day life, you’re just left with the issue itself. In our story, despite the fact that there are dragons and all that stuff, it is actually about a family. It is about misunderstandings, unbridled ambition, ruthlessness — that’s what it’s about. Whereas you might harbour resentment to your family today, if we can put it in a place and a time where there aren’t the political and social mores that we have, it becomes that much more raw, much more clear-cut — Brother A can hate Brother B and properly kill him, because that’s the world that they live in. It forces us to confront that issue more . . .

House of the Dragon on HBO Canada & Crave. Pictured: Pictured: Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon.
HBO Canada

Both House of the Dragon and the original Game of Thrones are notorious for their violence — and have been criticized for it. But what is the value of graphic violence as a storytelling tool? What’s the key to handling it the right way?

I guess what you’re trying to do is say, “This is a world in which violence is an everyday occurrence,” but at the same time, you don’t want to be gratuitous in your portrayal of it . . . There’s always going to be criticism because [author George R.R. Martin] based this world loosely on England during the Wars of the Roses, and it was a violent time — it just was. You want to let people know that the threat is always there. But at the same time, we’re not going all out just to disgust people. We have tried to create something where you feel you know these characters — so that if and when they lose their lives, it emotionally impacts you that much more.

House of the Dragon, streaming Sunday, June 23 on HBO Canada; Crave (Stream)


The native of Birmingham, England, has spent much of his career across the pond — first rising to fame and acclaim on U.K. cop drama The Knock, from 1994-2000. Other noteworthy entries on his CV include Line of Duty, Grantchester, Berlin Station, Doctor Who, It’s a Sin and Small Axe.


In his most iconic role yet, Toussaint embodies Lord Corlys Velaryon on hit Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon. As the Targaryen civil war truly ignites in season two, the man they call the “Sea Snake” is set to be a key power player — putting his formidable navy to work for would-be queen Rhaenyra Targaryen in her quest to seize the Iron Throne from her childhood pal turned stepmum turned bitter enemy Alicent Hightower.

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