Warning: the following article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 1, “The Heirs of the Dragon.“
House of the Dragon actor Fabien Frankel talks about what it was like filming the brutal first duel in the series opener. The world of Westeros is back in full effect, as Frankel’s Ser Christon Cole battles it out with Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen. Suffice it to say, it got bloody.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Frankel shared how satisfying it was to take on the task of the series’ first full-on fight against such a powerful character.
“I think that he has entered this tournament — I don’t know that he has grand designs to become what he might become but I think from a fighting perspective, it’s the biggest tournament that exists.
It’s the tournament for the heir to the king. There’s definitely a feeling of the stakes are highest here and obviously fighting against Daemon who’s very much touted as the greatest fighter in King’s Landing – I think, to him, that’s the perfect matchup.”
With this being the first episode, it’s interesting to note that Ser Criston Cole’s ambitions aren’t all that big. The joust is set up in honor of the King Viserys‘ (Paddy Considine) coming child, and has a sense of mindless entertainment. But because there aren’t very many external conflicts (because the Targaryens have dragons), they have to bide their time with bloodsport.
Daemon, King Viserys’ cruel brother, is especially violent and loves nothing more than to get under people’s skin. The jousters take their aggression out on each other, leaving their horses behind and dueling one-on-one. Ser Criston Cole uses a mace while Daemon uses a sword, and despie how ferocious Daemon is, it’s not so easy to bring his opponent down.
Frankel has also said that future episodes will be even better, calling them “amazing.” The first half of the season takes place with a younger Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey respectively. In later episodes, Emma D’Arcy plays the adult Rhaenyra and Olivia Cooke plays the adult Alicent, and their relationship will irrevocably change.