When Game of Thrones began airing in 2011, the show was almost immediately called out for its glaring omission of diversity within its cast. Despite the series’ enormous success, the show received criticism for its casting and portrayal of minorities within the plot. The forthcoming prequel, House of the Dragon, sought to alleviate some of these concerns with far more diverse actors. However, some talent associated with the show received backlash and racist threats due to their involvement with the franchise.
One such actor is Steve Toussaint, the man behind Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon. Following the announcement of his casting, racists took to social media to harass the actor, just another example of a fan base with a toxic side. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Toussaint spoke on the racial abuse he received after his announcement as the first black actor in a lead role within the Game of Thrones universe.
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“I didn’t realize [the casting] was a big deal until I was racially abused on social media. Yeah, that s**t happened. I was just like, ‘Oh wow,’ and then I thought: ‘OK, so this means a lot to some people, but I can’t allow that to bother me. I loved Game of Thrones, but my only caveat was, ‘Where’s everybody else in this world? Because it’s a diverse world Martin has created if you look [beyond Westeros], and I think this show comes closer to that.”
In the show, Lord Corlys Valaryon, aka The Sea Snake, is the wealthiest man in Westeros after completing nine map-expanding voyages and descending from Old Valyria like the Targaryens. Fans can’t wait to see The Sea Snake in live-action once House of the Dragon reaches HBO on Aug. 21st.
House of the Dragon Showrunners Made it a Point to Include a Diverse Cast
Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal wanted to ensure the cast and crew of House of the Dragon were more diverse than Game of Thrones, and the duo implemented programs to help with this. Sapochnik and Condal spoke with THR, reiterating their hopes for the new series.
“We knew from the outset that we wanted to change that conversation. The world changed a lot between 2011 and 2021 and [so did] what audiences expect to see on camera. The conversations that Miguel and I had were: How do we create a diverse cast for House of the Dragon but still do it in a way that feels organic to the world and doesn’t feel like pandering or tokenism — and also have them not be pirates, slaves and mercenaries like you tend to see in high fantasies?”
HBO’s evp Francesca Orsi says, ‘We worked really hard to ensure that there was real diversity across our entire ship.’ Four of the 10 episodes are directed by females, and THR reports that multiple mentorship programs were launched to help recruit crew talent with underrepresented backgrounds.
Fans’ excitement is reaching an all-time high for the series as House of the Dragon releases in exactly one month, on Aug. 21st, with weekly episodes to follow.