Larys Strong and Alicent Hightower talk in Episode 5 of House of the Dragon

Matthew Needham Gives Some Insight Into Larys’ Whole … Foot Thing

Speaking to reporters at a roundtable interview ahead of House of the Dragon Season 2, actor Matthew Needham talked about the villainous nature of his character and the queasy relationship between Larys and Alicent Hightower.

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Any Game of Thrones fan knows to keep a watchful eye on the minor antagonists before they start making big moves, and that absolutely applies to House of the Dragon‘s Larys Strong. If you need a quick refresher: Larys is a nobleman who rises to the title of Lord Confessor. It is his job to get information from people. And by “get information from,” I of course mean torture it out of them. This is Westeros, after all. He eventually becomes a confidant and informer for Alicent specifically—but his information comes with a price. He is also a kinslayer. Larys’ worst crime is getting his brother Harwin—a good man with mere minutes of HOTD screen time—killed.

“I remember [director Miguel Sapochnik] when he was editing the first [season] he came up to me,” Needham tells The Mary Sue‘s Rachel Leishman. “He was like, ‘I was watching scenes and I was dancing around the editing suite going, ‘I’ve got my villain, I’ve got my villain!””

That said, to many watching the show, Larys is not as villainous as the characters we loved to hate on Game of Thrones. He’s not overtly punchable like Joffrey Baratheon, or pure evil like Ramsay Bolton. He’s preoccupied with his own physical disability, a clubfoot, which draws some comparisons to Shakespeare’s cunning antihero Richard III. (The franchise’s previous Richard III stand-in on Game of Thrones was Tyrion Lannister and about a 1000 times more charming than ol’ Larys.)

If anything, the character he’s most comparable to is Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger. Both characters prefer to have others do their dirty work while they manipulate from the shadows. And both characters have unhealthy obsessions with young women forced into marriage at a young age. For Littlefinger, that was Sansa Stark. For Larys Strong, obviously, that is Alicent Hightower.

We may have misinterpreted Larys’ whole “foot thing”

What’s with him requiring Alicent to take off her shoes and stockings and put her bare feet on display before he feeds her information? Even if you’re not Team Green and don’t like Alicent, those scenes are hard to watch. (Larys also masturbates during these sessions, in case there was ever doubt that they were sexual.) Is he Westeros’ first foot fetishist? Well, according to Needham, not necessarily.

“When we discussed it,” Needham says when asked about his possible foot fetish by Decider‘s Meghan O’Keefe, “because he can’t touch her, it’s a way of making her feel as ashamed for that part of her body as he does for his. That does not translate completely, but that’s okay.” As if Alicent’s position is not vulnerable enough as is! He alluded to some deleted scenes or lines that may have clarified Larys’ motives, but “that was the thinking,” he said without getting into the specifics of what got left on the cutting room floor. Ultimately, it’s not a bad thing when characters have mysterious intentions and act in a way that seems strange. That gives fans like us something to interpret and talk about!

So, if anything, he has a shame fetish. Interesting! That doesn’t change the fact that Larys is exerting power over Alicent in these scenes. Obviously, that’s what their dynamic is “about” at its core. But it does just slightly shift what he himself gains. To risk sounding like a bumper sticker, the actual villain villain on House of the Dragon is the patriarchy itself. The way Alicent willingly submits to Larys’ demands and surrounds herself with men is representative of that—something that Rhaenyra pointed out in Season 1 BTW. If only she knew what goes on between Larys and Alicent behind closed doors.

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Leah Marilla Thomas
Leah Marilla Thomas (she/her) is a contributor at The Mary Sue. She has been working in digital entertainment journalism since 2013, covering primarily television as well as film and live theatre. She's been on the Marvel beat professionally since Daredevil was a Netflix series. (You might recognize her voice from the Newcomers: Marvel podcast). Outside of journalism, she is 50% Southerner, 50% New Englander, and 100% fangirl over everything from Lord of the Rings to stage lighting and comics about teenagers. She lives in New York City and can often be found in a park. She used to test toys for Hasbro. True story!