How Sean Bean Influenced Paddy Considine's House Of The Dragon Performance

Those who've watched "Game of Thrones" and read author George R.R. Martin's incredibly dense collection of "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels know better than anyone how rich and complex Westeros is as a fantasy setting. Told with a more modern and revisionist perspective than a genre staple such as "The Lord of the Rings," this material lends itself to a certain type of protagonist — one who fits the mold of the flawed, ambitious, shrewd, and typically doomed "hero."

The upcoming prequel series "House of the Dragon" most certainly won't shy away from this theme, depicting an entire family of squabbling Targaryen factions, power-hungry monarchs, and several potential successors to the Iron Throne who are set on doing all in their power to press their claims. Although the show will feature another sprawling ensemble cast to keep track of, Paddy Considine's King Viserys plays an integral role in the events that ultimately lead to a full-scale civil war amongst his own family.

In a recent round table interview (via Screen Rant), the "Peaky Blinders," "The Bourne Ultimatum," and "The World's End" actor detailed one source of surprising inspiration that helped him embody the character of Viserys. When asked how this new figure will be different from Sean Bean's Eddard "Ned" Stark — the closest thing to a good guy that the original series featured in the early going — Considine actually pointed to Bean's performance as an influence on his own take on the complicated king in "House of the Dragon."

"It's funny, really, because Ned Stark — what Sean [Bean] did — was sort of in my head when I played this, which is kind of weird. It was part of the makeup for me of Viserys."

'He's a deeply tragic man'

Viewers will not soon forget how Ned Stark's insistence on honor, nobility, and doing things the right way pretty much directly led to the reluctant ruler's beheading at the end of "Game of Thrones" season 1. While cut from a very different cloth as the ruler of the Targaryen dynasty, 200 years prior to those events, Viserys operates on a similar wavelength — in terms of good intentions, at least. Praising the character's complexity, Considine goes on to describe him:

"... I think he's a deeply tragic man, in that he's just trying to always do the right thing. It's almost like everything in his life has gone really, really well — and there's almost a naivety to him. He's a peacetime king ... his temperament is good — he's almost like a perfect king. And then I think he starts to spiral when those tragic events transpire."

Those "tragic events" allude to events in the character's backstory that take place before the show begins, such as the loss of his first wife Aemma and their son Baelon. He goes on to say that: 

"... I think all Viserys ever wanted to do was make the right decision, and you can't do that. You can't please everybody, as a ruler — you can't please everybody as a person, but especially as a ruler. And I think he suffers in that people think his kindness is weakness."

In the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where every political rival is vying for the top seat on the throne, it stands to reason that a figure of Viserys' makeup would come under siege. The real tragedy, in the actor's estimation, comes from outside circumstances preventing him from making the right choice.

"House of the Dragon" premieres on HBO on August 21, 2022.