Harry Lloyd Explains How to Wake the Dragon


By Steve Marzolf



It’s not easy being a bad guy, especially an abusive, incestuous, entitled young king who’s been booted from his own realm. Harry Lloyd, who plays Viserys Targaryen, has coped with this by tapping into the ancient power of … Rationalization.

HBO: How did you get ready for Viserys' violent "crowning" scene?

HARRY LLOYD: I thought a lot about the drunkenness of it. Drunk acting can be horrible to watch, if it's too pantomime. I had to stagger around the hotel for a couple days before we shot it and worked out my drunken walking. When you've got to scream and shout, it's pretty straightforward comparatively. Then you know that you've just got to give everything you have. Once your arm is broken and you're down on the ground, how many different ways can you scream for your life?

HBO: What goes through your mind when that molten gold hits the top of your head?

HARRY LLOYD: I've never had to die on camera before, let alone in such a grisly way. So you just have to kind of give it everything. You talk to the two actors holding you and say, ‘Let's not pansy around here. I'm gonna absolutely try and get out of this, so don't let me.' Then, you let it rip. It can't be some sort of half-assed whimpering - you've got to really believe the pain and the fear. It's actually quite liberating.

HBO: Speaking of liberating, you had some great, evil lines throughout the season, any favorites?

HARRY LLOYD: There are so many bits and moments that people say, "Oh, I love that line." And I've got to admit, I love them too. When I was doing them, these lines were gifts. I just had to try not to enjoy them too much and play the smiling villain all the time. That line in the pilot when he quietly says to her [adopts creepy Viserys voice], "I'd let his whole tribe f**k you. All 40,000 men and their horses too, if that's what it took." After that, you know exactly where this guy's coming from. It's not like he's running around talking about the council, and things are a bit unclear. He's obsessive, like a serial killer.

HBO: But this episode's scene with Jorah, where Viserys tries to steal the eggs, is the most vulnerable we've seen him ...

HARRY LLOYD: When I first read that scene, I wasn't sure how to do it at all. These are his deepest secrets, his actual fears, and he wouldn't show that to Mormont. From the very start, I felt that the whole way through the story he's just terrified and can't let on ... and that's why he does so many of the things he does. In that scene with Mormont, I'd never planned to make it very vulnerable; I just tried to do a really good job of covering it up. But, in the take they used, you suddenly see how kind of pathetic he is.

HBO: Will Daenerys miss her brother at all?

HARRY LLOYD: Yeah, I think she'll miss him. There were things we haven't seen in the series. He brought her up pretty much since birth. And I think there were definitely very tough times for her with him, but I think there must have been times when he sat down and told her these stories of Westeros. Even if you do have an abusive parent or brother, there's definitely an attachment there because you don't know anything else.

HBO: Do you think she's better off without him?

HARRY LLOYD: Yeah, I think she is. And I think it probably needed to be done. It probably would have happened another way, if it he hadn't rashly walked in drunk. I don't think you can live with the Dothraki with that kind of attitude for very long without coming to some kind of harm.