This Decision Ewan Mitchell Took For ‘House of the Dragon’ Shows He Perfectly Nailed Aemond Targaryen
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***Spoilers ahead for the entire first season of House of the Dragon. Be warned.***
One fun thing about me is that I’ve never been chill about anything related to A Song of Ice and Fire ever, and that is especially true when it comes to Fire & Blood and the HBO prequel to Game of Thrones it has inspired, House of the Dragon. Something about those murderous incestuous Targaryens just drives me up the walls.
So you can imagine how I’m doing now that we’re a cool six months after the finale of the first season of HoTD, with reports coming out that the cast and crew are finally beginning to film season 2. And with interviews like the one Ewan Mitchell released to The Face hitting the Internet.
It might just be that I’m immensely partial to the character Mitchell plays in House of the Dragon, that is, the grown-up version of Aemond Targaryen—second son of Alicent Hightower and Viserys Targaryen, rider of Vhagar, the largest and oldest dragon in the world, and beautifully unhinged like anyone who claims descent from Aegon the Conqueror.
I loved Aemond in Fire & Blood and I loved him even more in House of the Dragon, which gave his character a lot more depth and complexity: the complicated relationship with his absent father and abandoned mother, the power struggle between greens and blacks that Aemond and the other children reflect in how they interact with each other, the love/hate bond he shares with his older brother Aegon, the terrible desire for revenge he has nursed towards his nephew Lucerys Velaryon for taking our his eye as children. So compelling. If I think about it too much I might start spinning in circles around my office.
And there’s just one thing better than a truly fascinating and twisted character: an actor who understands all of these facets very well and perfectly brings them to life on screen. That’s exactly what Ewan Mitchell—risen to fandom darling status even while keeping pretty much every personal detail about himself a mystery—does with Aemond, and reading his March interview with The Face magazine just confirms it.
Among the little tidbits of information he revealed about his process of getting into Aemond’s mindset, though, there’s one that stuck out to me as absolute genius. Now, we all know that Aemond is probably the founding member of Daemon Targaryen’s fan club, no matter how much that might send Otto “Certified Daemon Hater™” Hightower into a premature heart attack. George R. R. Martin clearly created the two to be mirrors of each other down to their very names, and their destinies are definitely entangled now that the Dance of the Dragons has come upon their entire family.
In-universe, Aemond and Daemon know this as well and it’s clear to see in the charged look they exchange in episode 8, “The Lord of the Tides,” just after Daemon breaks up the budding fight between the green and black kids after Aemond’s toast at the dinner the entire family participates in. It’s an important moment that Mitchell clocked immediately.
“I did something on Dragon that was the first choice I made on my first day,” he said to The Face magazine. “I said to Ryan [Condal, one of the showrunners]: ‘I’ve got this idea of avoiding Matt Smith and [even] avoiding eye contact. There’s this moment in episode eight where we have this intense stare-down. I thought there was something in experimenting and saving that moment for then. Aemond idolizes Daemon, and this is the first time that he makes any sort of contact with him.”
The Face magazine reports that Ryan Condal and Matt Smith were both very much on board with the idea, so much so that Mitchell ended up not even having lunch in the vicinity of Smith until that fateful scene during the dinner in episode eight.
Is it a bit extra? Maybe. Do I love it immensely? Yes.
This first confrontation between uncle and nephew is so important for both of them—they see themselves in the other and also how they used to be and what they could be, evaluating the power dynamics at play. It foreshadows much about their future—if you know you know—so it’s very nice to read that the moment’s gravitas was perfectly grasped by the actors bringing the story to life.
(featured image: HBO)
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