Game of Thrones has had its fair share of controversies — from the handling of sexual assault to the treatment of people of color, the creatives of HBO’s House of the Dragon says they’ve learned from the mistakes of the past.
“I think it’s very important to learn from the past [and] that’s really what we’ve been trying to do,” said executive producer, co-showrunner, and director Miguel Sapochnik during a roundtable discussion with The Nerds of Color. “I mean, isn’t that what we should be doing. It’s not just learning from the past by default, but [adding] as much inclusivity as possible.”
Sapochnik referenced series like Bridgerton and the film David Copperfield (starring Dev Patel as Copperfield) and how color-bending should be the norm, but says there are some restrictions to that when it comes to House of The Dragon.
“I think we’ve felt very strongly that we want to be part of the solution,” he added. “That’s why we have worked hard in front of them behind the camera to address gender equality and inclusivity.”
Co-showrunner Ryan J. Condal agreed and wanted to bring people of different backgrounds into this world — the way that author George RR Martin created in his books.
“I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done both in front of the camera with our cast and behind it with our directors and writers and our key crew as well,” said Condal.
Several of the changes include adding actor Steve Toussaint to play Lord Corlys Velaryon, a wealthy Lord who is married to Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), who was originally white in the books. In Game of Thrones, Black characters were limited to slaves or servants and were either degraded or killed off throughout the series.
At first, Toussaint didn’t see the impact of his casting at first. He took the role as another job and focused on building the character. It wasn’t until the negative press came about with his casting announcement that Toussaint realized this was a big deal.
“Oh right, people see me as a ‘Black guy,’” said Toussaint. “That’s important.”
He recalled shooting a scene where he and the character’s family are walking down the grand steps and the supporting artists approached him, telling him how good it was to see people who looked like them being portrayed in this large and important role.
“Game of Thrones had people of color, but they were slaves or pirates,” he said. “So, to have somebody who is rich and have noble birth and it’s not remarked upon was good. I’m glad to have been part of it.”
House of the Dragon premieres on August 21 on HBO and HBO Max.