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Mack Rawden

How House Of The Dragon Was Able To Make King Viserys Look So Utterly Disgusting

Paddy Considine as Viserys sitting the Iron Throne one last time House of the Dragon

Other than all the time jumps and perhaps Larys Strong and Queen Alicent’s feet bribes, I’m not sure there was anything related to House Of The Dragon I talked about more than King Viserys’ general appearance. And by general appearance, I mean how utterly disgusting he looked in the back half of the season. I’ve never been more physically repulsed by a character in my thirty-five years of obsessively watching movies and TV shows. I was convinced he was about to die repeatedly, probably because he looked like the sloth victim in Se7en crossed with Miracle Max from The Princess Bride with a touch of Immortan Joe from Fury Road.

Of course all that grossness was the House Of The Dragon production team’s goal, and more specifically, it was prosthetics designers Barrie and Sarah Gower’s goal. They were recently nominated for an Emmy for their incredible work, and Barrie opened up about the process to The Hollywood Reporter. Here’s a portion of his quote…

He had developed this flesh-eating disease, and he starts decomposing over the years. It’s very different [from] Game of Thrones — the storytelling was told over several decades in this first season. I think Viserys’ illness was a really good tool to show that lapse of time. We also did a full-body makeup on a double of the character who was very slender, and we highlighted all his bone structures, and he had all these ulcerated wounds all over him. We shot Paddy’s performance, and we shot the double’s performance, and effects were able to replace Paddy’s head on the double’s body.

Using a double to shoot the body elements makes a lot of sense given how emaciated King Viserys gets during his last few episodes. We follow his journey from a relatively healthy man right up to spooky ghoul at the end; so, the show had to figure out how to illustrate that stark contrast. The head swap seems like the best way to do that. I’d say it’s wild to see how far technology has progressed with VFX work, but plugged-in Game Of Thrones fans are already very familiar with this technology since the show used the same process to shoot Cersei’s walk of atonement during season five. 

Unlike most other television shows, House Of The Dragon is actually filming right now. Work on Season 2 started prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike and has continued thanks to a location-based loophole. HBO produces HOTD, but the majority of its filming takes place all over Europe. That means the contracts aren’t run through the standard Hollywood union, which means the actors were told they should honor their contracts and continue filming. Given all the VFX work involved, it’ll still be sometime in 2024 before we see the finished season, but that’s a lot faster than it could have been if strike problems were involved.

Many fans were initially apprehensive about House Of The Dragon, as the final season of Game Of Thrones was poorly received. Both reviews and fan response, however, were positive on the first season, and the show quickly started setting some ratings records for the premium cable network. The first season provided a lot of backstory, which is where those aforementioned time jumps came from, but moving forward, it’s expected to move along at a more traditional pace. Fingers crossed all involved can keep building on the momentum of the first season, even if they’ll do so with fewer episodes and without one of their showrunners

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