During a recent segment on TheGrill and interview series from TheWrap, House of the Dragon co-creator Ryan Condal revealed the decision to make a traditionally white character in the book Black was not done for progressive reasoning.
“I think it was not that simple,” Condal said. “I think the reason that it’s been a successful choice … is because it was thought out. It wasn’t just done perfunctorily or wasn’t just done to tick a box or … to be seen as progressive.”
But, in the same breath, Condal, who also serves as the showrunner for the GOT prequel series, seemingly contradicted his initial statement.
“It’s 2022,” he continued. “It’s a different era than these shows used to be made in. We have an incredibly diverse audience that’s not only across America but in multiple countries that speak all sorts of different languages that represent … all the colors under the sun. And it was really important to see some of that reflected up on screen.”
“This is a fantasy world. I think if this was a historical fiction piece, it would be a more nuanced discussion. But I think simply because this is a fantasy world if we believe in dragons, and shape-shifters and [the fictional canines] direwolves, we can believe everybody in the story is not white.”
Condal Reveals His Reasoning On House of the Dragon’s Switch Up
In the show, Steve Toussaint, a British actor of Barbadian descent, takes on the role of Corlys Velaryon, also known as the Sea Snake, and is the leader of House Velaryon, House Targaryen’s most loyal ally.
Because of the change, House Velaryon, known for their white skin, ghostly pale hair, and purple eyes in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book, has darker skin to accompany their silvery-white dreadlocked hair.
Condal further revealed their decision to change their skin color was made because of the family’s place in the franchise, and it was a decision Martin flirted with years ago.
Why we went to the Velaryons, in particular, was because that felt like the most fantastical race in the show, and it felt like … these were people from a lost continent that we don’t really know that much about,” Condal said.
“We know they all have silver hair, we know they have an affinity for dragons, some of them. And we know they are seen, as quoted in the books and in the show, closer to gods than to men. So what does that all look like?”
“And it always stuck with me, this article … where George had talked about, at first when he set out to write these books, considering making all of the Velaryons Black. … Black people with silver hair — and that always really stuck with me as an image.”
The Decision To Make The Velaryons Black Was Met With Criticism
House of the Dragon is a critical success for HBO, drawing in millions of viewers each week, but initially, Toussaint’s casting did cause the racist trolls to come out.
Toussaint shut them down epically during a panel discussion at San Diego Comic-Con.
“As I said, there are people outside who find it a little hard to stomach that someone who looks like me would play this part. But that’s an issue they have to deal with, and I don’t have to. The issue is always the same I just have to say the lines convincingly and avoid bumping into the furniture.”
House of the Dragon is roaring on Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.
Photo: Ollie Upton / HBO