Home of the Dragon: Fabien Frankel on Matt Smith Harm, Thrones Followers

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Ask Fabien Frankel about his favourite “Game of Thrones” character, and the actor drops his head seemingly in agony.

“The place to start?” he says with a groan. “Oberyn Martell. Tormund. Jon Snow. Mance Rayder. Brienne of Tarth. Arya Stark. Oh mate, I really like all of them.”

Quickly sufficient, Frankel might be part of their ranks, as Ser Criston Cole, the dashing, Dornish hottie who turns a number of heads in HBO’s impending “Thrones” prequel collection, “House of the Dragon.” The collection — which traces how the Targaryen dynasty rips itself aside roughly two centuries earlier than the occasions of “Recreation of Thrones” — boasts a starry ensemble, together with Paddy Considine (as King Viserys), Matt Smith (as Viserys’ brother, Prince Daemon), Rhys Ifans (as Ser Otto Hightower, hand of the king), Emma D’Arcy (as Viserys’ daughter, Princess Rhaenyra), Olivia Cooke (as Otto’s daughter, Girl Alicent), Eve Finest (as Viserys’ cousin, Princess Rhaenys), and Steve Toussaint (as Rhaenys’ husband, Lord Corlys Velaryon). Writer George R.R. Martin created the collection with Ryan J. Condal (“Colony”), who additionally serves as showrunner with veteran “Thrones” director Miguel Sapochnik.

Amongst that firm, Frankel is by far the least recognized: He appeared in a small function within the 2019 romantic comedy “Final Christmas,” performed Theo Sipowicz within the ill-fated 2019 sequel pilot for “NYPD Blue,” and had a supporting function within the 2021 BBC/Netflix restricted collection “The Serpent.” So getting into Ser Criston’s armor might launch his profession in the identical method “Thrones” made stars of Emilia Clarke, Equipment Harington, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams.

Frankel talked with Selection about his well-publicized tussle with Smith whereas rehearsing their large battle scene within the pilot, discovering himself at Clarke’s birthday celebration, and the way arduous it was to recover from being in Westeros in any respect.

So did you are feeling that Bran deserved to be King of Westeros?

Oh God. No matter I say right here is gonna reside without end within the eternity of the “Recreation of Thrones” universe. So I’m going to offer you no touch upon whether or not I felt that he deserved it. Look, I’d prefer to have seen Tormund, as somebody who by no means had any potential to be. I feel that will have been very attention-grabbing. However I additionally suppose that they did one of the best they may to finish the present that was so beloved.

You have been in “Final Christmas” with “Recreation of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke, so did you name her up whenever you have been wanting on the prospect of starring in “Home of the Dragon?”

It’s very type of you, Adam, to deliver that up. However sadly, I used to be subsequently lower from nearly all of the movie. I don’t suppose my efficiency was fairly as much as scratch. So, no, I didn’t. Weirdly, a pal of mine, Jenna, is outdated pals with Emilia, and we ended up at [her] birthday celebration, I assume, like, six months in the past or one thing. She was beautiful. And [“Game of Thrones” executive producers] Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] have been there and another nice “Recreation of Thrones” alums.

Did they know that you just have been within the present?

I feel somebody informed them. I feel that Jenna may need stated, “That is Fabian, he’s doing ‘Home of the Dragon.’” They have been beautiful. You recognize, they have been very excited they usually have been speaking how effectively Miguel had carried out on his episodes.

So how would you describe your character? Within the ebook, he finds himself in the course of the battle between Princess Rheynera and Girl Alicent.

He’s the common-born soldier from Dorne, son of a steward in Blackhaven. We describe him as a solitary man, and one who doesn’t come from this world, this world of extra, and this world of greed and cash. He’s principled, a soldier. Fought within the Dornish marches.

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Your first scene on the present is an prolonged jousting event by which Ser Criston spars with Prince Daemon Targaryen. Was that the primary scene that you just shot?

It was the very first thing I shot with Matt. It was very early on within the filming. It was very intense, however we had fun. We went to the pub after and had a drink or two and celebrating the truth that we’ve managed to get via it remotely unscathed.

You probably did say at Comedian-Con that the rehearsals had a special end result, in that Matt bought injured.

I’m studying quick that I shouldn’t have stated that it occurred, as a result of everybody desires to know the way Matt bought out of that. Very, very sadly, his sword rebounded off my defend and hit him kind of sq. within the head. He had slightly little lower, however I feel he was high-quality. He’s a courageous man.

So it wasn’t your sword that did it. You have been defending your self.

You recognize, you’re proper, and I feel we should always set the story straight for the followers on the market that, truly, that is Matt Smith’s fault. I take no duty.

This season takes place over a long time — how does that manifest to your character?

I want I might let you know that there was some type of wonderful transformation that occurred, however the reality is I had an extension piece on my hair and my beard bought longer and shorter right here and there. However reality be informed, I discovered it powerful, as a result of we don’t shoot chronologically, and I come from theater the place every little thing is chronological, and tales are likely to comply with a set sample. On this case, we shot every little thing far and wide just about all through filming. Truly, Miguel and I have been talking about that, and he stated he’d like it if we did get to a second season that we doubtlessly shoot extra in some type of order. We had an unimaginable script supervisor who I’d go to type of preserve me on the straight and slender once I would lose my method.

What have been the kind of greatest surprises for you in that means of seeing one thing be made at that scale?

I feel the primary factor for me was watching simply how totally different everybody’s course of was. You had some people who find themselves very quiet and would sit in a nook ruminating and writing of their diaries after which some individuals who needed every little thing to really feel extremely instinctive. I have a look at somebody like Rhys, after which somebody like Emma, they usually’re equally extremely gifted actors, however have utterly totally different processes and are utterly totally different folks. So, you recognize, I simply picked up so much from from working with all of them.

So who was the brooder and who was spontaneous?

I can’t reveal their secrets and techniques! It wouldn’t be truthful.

You’ve by no means made a present on this scale, so how difficult was it to step out of our actual world and right into a world as absolutely realized as Westeros?

It’s actually bizarre to stroll round Leavesden Studios the place “Willy Wonka” is taking pictures on one stage, “Aquaman” is taking pictures on one other. You’ve bought mermaids milling round ingesting espresso and on TikTok. It was surreal. However you simply discover a method. The units are so extremely detailed. And whenever you’re there, I discovered it fairly simple to disassociate myself from the world. It’s a part of the job, isn’t it? The very last thing you need to do whenever you’re confronted with Paddy Considine in a scene is be in your cellphone, ready to go.

Two weeks after this present premieres, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy” premieres as effectively.

Yeah, I can’t wait! I’m a large fan of “Lord of the Rings.” We bought to satisfy a bunch of [the cast] at Comedian-Con. They have been nice and we have been all equally excited for one another. I feel that there’s no motive why these reveals can’t coexist.

Did you occur to audition for that present as effectively?

I didn’t, truly. I bear in mind it was going round. My mates have been all auditioning for it, and I used to be like, What the hell’s happening? I’d be seen for something in “Lord of the Rings.” I’d be an orc, you recognize?

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Courtesy of HBO

Your late father, Mark Frankel, was additionally an actor — was that a part of what led you to performing?

Yeah. My brother and I grew up with such a love of cinema. That got here from our mum and our granddad. My mother took us to the cinema as soon as per week. We’d watch every little thing and something. However I feel that there was positively a sense of, oh, effectively, it’s a chance. I do know so many youngsters who grew up in a world the place the opportunity of changing into an actor appeared extremely far-off.

Did you do faculty performs as a child?

Sadly, Adam, I used to be horrible at school performs. I used to be all the time given the worst function. The one time I ever even bought near enjoying an element, they gave me Photographer No. 2 in “Singin’ within the Rain.”

So if you happen to have been getting all the shit roles, when did you truly resolve that performing was one thing you needed to pursue?

I can’t pinpoint a time. It simply kind of occurred. I simply bear in mind saying to my mother, “I need to be an actor.” And my mother saying, “Nicely, have you ever seen all these movies?” And I used to be like, “Nicely, no, I haven’t.” At that time, I will need to have been 16, and I hadn’t seen, you recognize, the greats, the “Midnight Cowboys,” the “On the Waterfronts,” the “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfs.” So I bought to spend the latter phases of my teenagers watching every little thing I might, and that knowledgeable definitely my need to enter it. Then I bought into drama faculty on my third yr of making use of, and that was my final yr I used to be going to use. That kind of cemented no less than the probabilities of getting a profession.

Are there different inventive pursuits that you just get pleasure from?

Yeah, I’d actually like to direct. I truly suppose that in some methods, I’m extra meant to direct than I’m to behave.

Did you discuss with Miguel Sapochnik or any of the opposite “Home of the Dragon” administrators? Did you shadow them on set in any respect?

No. I watched them meticulously, and I’ve realized a lot.

Lastly, did being an enormous “Recreation of Thrones” fan make it a problem to stay current whereas making “Home of the Dragon?”

Yeah, it’s unattainable to stroll onto a set like that and never go, “Holy fuck.” I’ll let you know, the very first day, I simply, I didn’t know the place I used to be. I couldn’t let you know my left or my proper, what was up, what was down. And there was Rhys Ifans and Paddy Considine and Eve Finest and Matt Smith and Steve Toussaint. It takes a minute to get used to. However finally, you bought to simply do your job — effectively, I hope. I assume we’ll discover out within the subsequent two months or so.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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