Curtain Call: Paddy Considine

1x05 King's Landing Red Keep Throne Room Wedding Viserys (Paddy Considine) (1)

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

King Viserys I Targaryen was not a great man. He was a rather reluctant monarch who tried to maintain the peace forged by his grandsire, Jaehaerys I, but failed to live up to his greatness; instead his ineffective leadership helped sow the seeds of division in his house. He could have been an utterly forgettable, perhaps even unlikeable character. In House of the Dragon, however, Paddy Considine achieved the greatness his character could not – bringing Viserys to life with nuance and pathos, making us empathize and understand him in a way the pages of Fire and Blood never could.

Author George R.R. Martin seems to concur, as Considine recounts that he received a text message from him saying “Your Viserys is better than my Viserys.” Throughout the season, Considine showed us Viserys’ love for his family, his desire to be a good man and a good ruler, and his concern for the legacy he’d leave behind. And in his emotional final episode, he showed us the heavy price he paid.

Aemma (Sian Brooke), Viserys (Paddy Considine), Harrenhal 1x01

From his first appearance in the series premiere “The Heirs of the Dragon,” we see Viserys as a man who deeply cares for his wife and daughter, even if his decisions regarding both sometimes lead to disastrous consequences. In the case of his wife Aemma, his choice to try and save their son led to her brutal death, and in the case of his daughter Rhaenyra, his choice to name her heir puts a huge burden on her shoulders and sets up brutal conflict to come.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter at the beginning of the season, Considine shared his feelings on taking the role. “I got the first three scripts and it was a really rich, beautiful and conflicted character. A beautiful character. I’ve been waiting for a role like this, if I’m being honest.” He went on to describe Viserys as “a great scholar and I think the responsibility was given to him because he was peaceful like Jaehaerys. He’s a good man, but a bad king in that he tries to please everybody…He’s a very human man with huge emotions and responsibilities that weigh on him physically and mentally.”

Daemon Crowns Viserys Paddy Considine Matt Smith

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Viserys also cares for his brother Daemon, despite the dysfunctional relationship between the two men. In a preseason interview posted to the Game of Thrones YouTube channel, Considine explains the complex feelings that exist between the brothers. “Viserys does love Daemon, massively, they just can’t articulate it between each other. Daemon, in Viserys’ eyes, is a fuck up. He’s always bringing trouble to his door. You know, but a part I think of Viserys envies Daemon, because part of him wishes that he could go off and do what Daemon does.”

We see the conflict between the two throughout the season, as Daemon continually lets his brother down and gets exiled for his transgressions. Viserys, however, is always ready to welcome him back with open arms. In a beautiful moment as Viserys struggles toward the Iron Throne to affirm the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s sons, Daemon steps up to help as Viserys’ crown topples to the floor. He supports his ailing brother as he sits the throne for the final time, and places the crown gently on his head. Considine does a masterful job of conveying Viserys’ love and gratitude, and of giving Daemon the acceptance he always wanted.

Viserys Rhaenyra and Daemon

The physical decline of Viserys over the season is a perfect metaphor for the degradation of his reign as king. Never a strong ruler, he allows himself to be manipulated by those around him, resulting in a rift in his family that can’t be healed – despite his last ditch effort to repair it. Unfortunately in his final episode, he’s too weak in mind and body to enforce any real reconciliation between the opposing sides.

As Considine tells Vulture, “Ultimately, the character is a very, very tragic character.” He explains that Viserys believes he deserves what happens to him, saying, “He chose to put his wife through a terrible procedure, and that breaks his heart and he never recovers from it…the minute that he burned her on her funeral pyre, he just never lived properly again.” He adds, “When the illness strickens him and he gets worse — if you notice through the story, he’s not the one asking for a cure…He just accepts this thing for what it is. I think in some way — and this is probably a Paddy choice, a deep-seated Catholic-guilt Paddy choice — he’s being punished.”

Regarding Viserys’ final words – which weren’t in the script – Considine gave some insight into his decision to include them in an interview with The New York Times. “I always had an idea in my head, whether it was useful to the story or not, that the last thing Viserys sees before he dies is the person who comes to collect him from this mortal life. When he dies, he sees Aemma, and he says, ‘My love.’ I just kind of improvised that line, and reached out a little bit, because this to me is a tragic love story, in many ways…The narrative I had in my mind was that he never really gets over Aemma, that he’s devastated for the rest of his life.”

Considine posted to Instagram following his character’s final moments to express his gratitude to the fans, and for the opportunity to bring Viserys to life on screen.

Thank you, Paddy, for giving us the Viserys we never knew we needed. You made the story of House Targaryen all the richer for it.

Paddy Considine

14 Comments

  1. Paddy was one of those actors I always wanted for Game of Thrones. Now I’m so glad it never happened. Things work out at the right time and place. He’s so much more interesting than Fire and Blood’s Viserys and I’m incredibly grateful for everything he gave to the show.

  2. Barely a blip in the book… probably winning an Emmy. This is why you can’t predict how something is going to turn out until you watch it happen.

  3. Genuinely stellar work from one of my favourite all time actors, always fascinating to watch. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

  4. Truly a gem in the darkness, Paddy gave Viserys a determined optimism in spite of his fate. Aside from Episode 9, the scene where he is crying over Aemma’s ring (Episode 7 I believe?) after all that time had passed really got me. Yet behind the scenes he looked like a blast to be around. His Instagram account is a fun follow.

    I hadn’t been excited about HotD, but he was a major part of getting me invested. And George was right.

  5. As portrayed on the show, I thought he was a great man, though flawed like the rest of us. Tortured by the mistake he made with his wife, he tried to atone for it by naming his daughter as heir which was his right, so I don’t think he can be entirely blamed for creating the division in his family. Otto should bear the blunt of the blame for that, though Viserys bringing him back into his circle after the death of the Strongs was a poor move (I really think one of the failings of the show is that it didn’t shed a light on why he did this, it just sort of happened in the background and we had to accept it). But yeah Paddy was amazing, hope he gets an Emmy for the role or at least nominated, probably my favorite character up until this point.

  6. He was amazing. Viserys was my favourite character for most of the show, and that was largely thanks to Paddy.

  7. For a role that wasn’t flashy, a character that favoured moderation in all things, Paddy Considine made Viserys truly shine as a person desperately trying to do what is best for the realm and live a normal life with his family.
    Unfortunately being king requires leadership and decisivness Viserys lacked.

    Paddy captured all of the remorse, guilt and sadness for all of Viserys’ choices (or lack thereof) and their unfortunate consuequences with even a glance.

    Considine’s Viserys wasn’t a show stealer like Daemon or newly Aemond, but he grounded the story. He was the anchor the whole show needed to burrow into fans’ minds.

    And he succeeded. The show can now move on after Considine did the heavy, very heavy lifting with Viserys.

  8. Way back when Paddy’s casting was announced, not everyone here knew of him. But some of us cheered because we already knew what a fine actor he is! I was afraid that Viserys would be killed off early on, but he proved to be more tenacious and we are lucky to have had more of Paddy’s wonderful portrayal to savour.

  9. He was absolutely superb as a good man and weak king, and the way he fleshed out what could have been a dry character was nothing short of brilliant. He will be deeply missed.

  10. Simply loved Paddy’s performance, although his character’s agony was hard to watch… but this is the sign of a great actor! He showed humanity and made me love Viserys even if he sacrifices his beloved wife for what he thought to be his duty. A mistake he would pay for the rest of his life.

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