Steve Toussaint is set to star in the HBO House of the Dragon series as Lord Corlys Velaryon. The character, known as the Sea Snake, is the head of House Velaryon and will feature prominently in the fantasy drama.
Toussaint was announced to have signed up for the Game of Thrones prequel in February earlier this year. The series is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, along with portions based on his 2018 novel Fire & Blood.
House Velaryon was reimagined as black when developing it for the screen, with showrunner Ryan Condal revealing that it had actually been Martin’s idea after originally envisioning them as black in earlier drafts. Toussaint revealed how he received racist abuse after being announced as the first black person to land a lead role in the entire franchise.
Read more: Where to watch the House of the Dragon Premiere
The actor told the Radio Times: “When they announced [my casting], one of the first things I saw on social media was a drawing of the character [from the books] next to a picture of me. And then there was the racist abuse that came with that.
“I kind of thought: ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that. But as this guy is the richest [character] in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.”
Who is Steve Toussaint?
Born to Barbadian parents in the UK, Steve had his last name legally changed to Toussaint due to his birth name conflicting with a pre-existing member of his actors’ union. The name came from Haitain revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture, whom he had been reading about in C.L.R. James’ The Black Jacobins at the time.
His professional acting debut came as Steve Dixie in ITV’s The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in 1994. Heading into the Noughties, Toussaint established himself as a recognisable face in many British TV classics, including Casualty, The Bill, Doctors and Silent Witness. As for films, he became well known for appearing in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Judge Dredd, and Shooting Dogs.
Later appearances followed in Line Of Duty, Death In Paradise and Doctor Who - where he featured in a 2020 episode. Last year saw him feature in Channel 4’s critically acclaimed It’s a Sin, while he also voiced George Lambert in the video game Jurassic World Evolution 2.
Before landing his House of the Dragon role, Toussaint had actually previously harboured aspirations to be part of the cult fantasy franchise long before. He unsuccessfully auditioned for several roles in Game of Thrones, including Areo Hotah, while he hoped to secure a role in fellow prequel The Long Night before it was eventually shelved.
The now-57-year-old was finally offered the role of nautical adventurer Corlys Velaryon, believing that those failed attempts were simply meant to be. When describing the character, Toussaint told The Hollywood Reporter: “He’s very much like: ‘It doesn’t matter what my words mean to you. I’m telling you the truth. I don’t care if I hurt your feelings.’”
UK viewers will be able to watch House of the Dragon on Sky Atlantic and subscription service Now.
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