HBO's House of the Dragon: Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen looking sad

Matt Smith on ‘House of the Dragon’ Is the Internet’s Favorite New Trash Boy

He's always been my favorite trash boy

Welcome to the world of me, a person who has loved Matt Smith since his premiere as the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, and ever since. (Yes, I even watched the movie Womb where he plays a clone of a man who is in love with his mother, Eva Green, who used to be his lover before he died.) So when the news came that Smith would be playing Daemon Targaryen on House of the Dragon, I knew one thing for certain: I was doomed to love this character.

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Now, I know Daemon’s going to do some bad things and that he’s not someone to praise, but also he’s my new trash boy of Westeros and I am so beyond happy about it. And I’m not alone—the internet has taken to Daemon in a certain kind of way in these first two episodes that feels right and good in the world of being a Matt Smith fan.

And you might be wondering why a character like Daemon has become the latest internet obsession, and it is simply because Daemon Targaryen doesn’t care who he offends with what he says or does (well, he doesn’t care outside of his niece Rhaenyra). He’ll insult his brother, do what he wants, take a second wife, and he doesn’t care what happens because of it. While we didn’t see it happen in the show, it’s alluded to that Daemon called his dead nephew the “heir for a day,” he’s vicious and yet we love him. Daemon enters into the grand tradition of the Internet finding their fave in “that bitch.”

Always love the drama king

What it boils down to, I think, is that he’s dramatic as all hell, like the amount of things that Daemon did just to almost start a war because he was replaced as the heir. This is a strange time in the world, and sometimes you have to love someone so unabashedly, unapologetically over the top and in it for himself. But he’s also willing to back down quickly when the right person confronts him, we saw it with Rhaenyra at the end of the second episode when she flew her dragon to Dragonstone after he took the dragon egg she picked for her brother.

He’s hot-headed and someone who seems to live for the drama he creates and it makes him a fascinating character to look at and make videos about.

There are people who are coming into Daemon Targaryen as fresh-faced Matt Smith fans, and it is quite fun to see them exploring this character with him as an actor.

The evolution of Matt Smith

Maybe it is because I have been here for over a decade, but seeing this side of Matt Smith feels like both a breath of fresh air as well as a natural evolution of his career trajectory. His version of the Doctor was hot-headed but he still had a compassion to him that Daemon does sort of lack. But Smith has gone on to play even more complex roles, some of them famous people in history like visionary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in Mapplethorpe and Prince Phillip in the first two seasons of The Crown, and some characters of a decidedly more sinister bent. He brought to life Jack in the Edgar Wright movie Last Night In Soho, which showed the darkness that can exist within his characters, and he was Patrick Bateman in the West End production of American Psycho: The Musical. And of course there was the time when he seemed to be the only one who knew what kind of movie he was in with Morbius.

That darkness exists within Smith as a performer and when he taps into it with his characters, it’s a thrilling time for fans. And frankly, I can’t wait to see more of it with Daemon. I want that darkness to take over because those are the characters in Game of Thrones and Westeros that I like more than the picture perfect ones. In fact, most the characters in the Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon world are a bit warped, and so why not be intrigued by the absolute asshole and monster that is Daemon Targaryen?

This is how we’re reacting online with just two episodes under our belt and honestly? I think we’re all still going to hold him up as our boy despite his many, many, many moral failings and generally being a dramatic mess. Is he an avatar for our times? Probably! Unfortunately. But it’s impossible to look away.

(image: HBO)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.