‘House of the Dragon’ star Steven Toussaint says ‘everybody has a right to be represented’ on screen

“House of the Dragon” actor Steven Toussaint is sailing into Season 2 of the “Game of Thrones” prequel series buoyed by the positive response to his powerful performance.

It’s safe to say he’s starting the sophomore season of “Dragon” on a more positive note than Season 1, which was marred by racist backlash to Toussaint’s casting.

According to Toussaint, the “negative response” he initially received when his casting was announced before the series debuted in 2022 has since been drowned out by the praise and appreciation expressed by viewers who celebrate on-screen representation.

“I can’t tell you the amount of people – and not just people of color – who have contacted me through social media or through letters and said how pleased they are to see this representation in this world,” said Toussaint during a “Dragon” press conference held on Monday.

Toussaint plays Lord Corlys Velaryon – the high-born leader of House Velaryon of Driftmark – in the HBO series, which is based on the book “The Targaryen Dynasty: The House of the Dragon” by George R.R. Martin. (HBO is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, which also owns CNN.)

In the book, members of House Velaryon are described as White but in the series, the members of House Velaryon are portrayed by Black actors. The choice to veer from the source material sparked an often racist discourse among book loyalists. Toussaint later told The Hollywood Reporter that he was “racially abused on social media” following his casting.

“Dragon” showrunner Ryan Condal acknowledged in a 2022 interview with Entertainment Weekly that the criticism that “Game of Thrones” received for its lack of diversity, in part, inspired the decision to cast more people of color in this series.

“The world is very different now than it was 10 years ago when [‘Game of Thrones’] all started,” Condal said at the time. He added that it was important to “create a show that was not another bunch of White people on the screen, just to put it very bluntly.”

Toussaint had a similar take at the press conference on Monday, saying, “we are living in a world in which everybody’s here and I think everybody has a right to be represented… There are voices out there that would argue against that but I think those of us who want to see that world, I think history is on our side.”

Set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” “Dragon” tells the story of House Targaryen and the ensuing, epic civil war. The series stars Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Eve Best, Bethany Antonia and Fabien Frankel, among others.

“House of the Dragon” Season 2 will be available to stream on Max on June 16.

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