‘House of the Dragon’ Kills Key Character During Epic Battle

SPOILER ALERT! This story contains plot details from episode 4 of House of the Dragon on HBO.

War always has its heartbreaking casualties, and the epic battle that ensued at the end of Sunday’s episode of the Game of Thrones was no exception: fans had to watch as a major character died after a spectacular dance between two dragons.

Damn you, Aemond, and your giant Vhagar!

In this story, the newest citizen of Westeros who meets her maker recounts those final moments and what she’ll miss most about playing a blonde royal in a violent world.

DEADLINE Have you seen the entire episode?

EVE BEST (Princess Rhaenys Targaryen) No, I haven’t seen any of it. I haven’t even seen season one. It’s a bit like hearing yourself on someone else’s answering machine; you just hate the sound of your own voice so much. It’s a bit like that, but magnified a million times. And because I come from a theater background, I’m not used to looking back. I’m impressed by a lot of the younger actors who are so saturated with screens now, and they’re happy to just look at monitors and be quite objective, which is a great skill. I get too distracted and I get a bit nauseous. I’d love to see it. I hear it’s really great.

DEADLINE There’s a total jump scare when Vhagar goes for your dragon’s neck. I literally screamed.

BEST I knew they were doing that. The closest I got to it was when we shot that whole sequence. The director had everything marked up and they made a little cartoon version of the whole sequence so I could see what we were going for. I’m really glad it worked.

DEADLINE Did they give you artistic freedom to jump to your death? Was it your decision to put your arms up like that?

BEST It was my decision. I think they wanted a moment of holding on and then letting go. It felt really natural, actually. It was kind of a peaceful moment after all that. When we were filming it, there was a lot of buildup. It just happened to be the last thing I filmed. We did that whole sequence at the end of the shoot. It was a special day and then [showrunner] Ryan Condal came in and gave a speech. It was so beautiful. But it was also pressure. I was like, ‘Please don’t make me cry. I just have to go ahead and shoot this really important piece of film.’ Anyway, it was a long run-up because they had to prepare the camera for this move, which was quite complicated. I had a lot of time and I was getting more and more nervous. And we did it in two takes! I was like, ‘No, what?’ And the director was like, ‘No, that’s great. I’m happy.’ She literally and spiritually let go. It was a real surrender.

DEADLINE George RR Martin’s book makes it clear that your character won’t be in this world much longer. Did Ryan let you know in season one that you wouldn’t make it past season two?

BEST Yeah, we knew that. My contract said I was only going to be there for two seasons. So we always knew it was going to end. That’s kind of the nature of the beast, really. When you sign up for this franchise, chances are you’re going to get sick at some point. I didn’t know exactly when, but I knew it was a dragon.

DEADLINE Were you aware of the subsequent episodes? I mean, did you want to know what the consequences of your death would be?

BEST At that time I didn’t. I thought: Well, she’s done. But after we did the read-through and when we knew they were all going back to read episodes five and six, I was like, oh, I want to know what happens. And I want to know if Corlys [Rhaenys’ husband, played by Steve Toussaint] really unhappy? Is he really upset? He’ll be devastated. He’ll probably cry a lot.

DEADLINE Did your character die knowing she would be a better leader than Viserys?

BEST Oh yeah. I mean, that’s her whole journey. That’s the backbone of this story … the woman who gets passed over for the man, the woman who’s much more qualified for the job. And when we started shooting, Sara Hess, Ryan’s head writer, immediately said to me, ‘There’s a lot of Hillary Clinton in her.’ And that just feels so good. The person who is absolutely clearly the most intelligent, the most knowledgeable, the most qualified, the most spirited and intellectual person who is right for this role gets passed over because of her gender, and then she sees it happen again, potentially with Rhaenyra [Emma D’Arcy]There was such a strong sense of ‘not on my watch, this story won’t happen again, we have to change it.’

DEADLINE Can you talk about the meaning of Rhaenys’ appearance?

BEST In season one she wore quite a few dresses and it wasn’t until the end that she put on her dragon costume. I’ve been told it looked great and actually the boots were very comfortable and that’s my comfort zone, wearing pants and simple things. It was very tight though. Sometimes I felt like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. I was very restricted in my movement. But it looked good. And if she looks like a butt kicker, I’m happy with that.

DEADLINE Will you miss how spectacular you looked in the blonde wig?

BEST I wish I had someone in real life who could make that wig for me.

DEADLINE I always studied the edges to see if I could see anything that looked like a wig. You just couldn’t see it.

BEST It’s so clever. There are a lot of Aryan wigs in there. In Game of Thrones there was only one. But I’m like you. I think, where’s the netting? Where’s the line? It’s a very long process, putting it on because I have to hide all that hair, then they put a bald cap on and then they paint the bald cap. They’re brilliant at it. It’s a phenomenal piece of engineering. But it’s also bloody uncomfortable, let’s put it that way. I had a hot head full of metal pins, which we all try to remove secretly. Steve’s very good at it. The Sea Snake ends up with about one pin at the end of the day. My wonderful and very brilliant hair person has eyes like a hawk. She doesn’t let me get away with anything. So if I take a pin out, she’ll come right back with another one, just in case.

DEADLINE I will miss Rhaenys.

BEST She’s a sexy, cool badass. I’m gonna miss her too.

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