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Matt Smith: 'My House of the Dragon character is similar to Prince Philip'

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Matt Smith has his eyes on the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon (Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

House of the Dragon won't be the first time Matt Smith has played a prince and the British star says he's spotted a few similarities between Daemon Targaryen and another famous royal he's portrayed on screen. 

Smith played Prince Philip for two series in hit Netflix show The Crown, but he'll have his eyes fixed on a very different throne when HBO's Game of Thrones spin-off gets underway this month. 

Based upon George RR Martin's novel, "Fire and Blood", the 10-part series is set 170 years before the original show, during a time when the Targaryen family were at the height of their power as the rulers of Westeros. 

Yet with no son and heir, King Viserys (Paddy Considine) must choose a successor from his ambitious and volatile younger brother, Prince Daemon, and his daughter Princess Rhynaera (Milly Alcock) — who would be the first woman to ascend the Iron Throne. 

"Prince Daemon is a very complex character, which is one of the reasons why I was drawn to him," says House of the Dragon star Matt Smith. "He's not black and white and at any point, you never really know what he's going to think. He’s ambitious and ruthless, but he’s also loyal and has a set of values that he sticks to, they’re just different to other people’s values!" 

Daemon is hungry for power, but constantly finds himself being pushed out of the spotlight. It's a feeling Smith, who famously played a young Prince Philip opposite Claire Foy's Queen Elizabeth in the first two seasons of The Crown, recognises. 

"Both characters are princes, they're both blonde and they're both mavericks to a certain degree," he explains. "Playing someone from history comes with pressure, but you've got a whole load of source material, although there's a lot of source material for Prince Daemon too. Both characters allowed for a lot of scope and both have an energy of defiance about them, which is again, quite similar!" 

One major difference between the two characters is Daemon's choice in pets, with his dragon Caraxes a far-cry from the corgis that pad around Buckingham Palace, not that Matt treated them any differently. 

"Daemon’s dragon is cantankerous, moody and difficult, but he’s also very loyal, so he’s a bit like Daemon I suppose," he explains. 'It’s a bit like having a mad, rabid and very dangerous dog. I treated my dragon in the show like I treat my dog, with love and familiarity!" 

Yet while House of the Dragon might be set nearly two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, Smith says fans of that iconic show will be right at home with this new spin-off. 

"The world of House of Dragon feels familiar, but I think it’s very original," he says. '"The series is filled with deceit, backstabbing, war, love, lust, passion and rage, so all the stuff that made Game of Thrones interesting is there, plus some brilliant new characters. Our story is slightly different in that it’s focused on one family, while Game of Thrones spanned all of George RR Martin’s world."

House of the Dragon begins on Sunday 21 August on HBO in the US & on Monday 22 August on Sky Atlantic in the UK.

Sean Marland
Sean Marland

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.