new york –
Matt Smith is tired — very tired — but you can’t tell by talking to him.
In a dimly lit hotel lounge in Tribeca, the actor, who turns 40 later this month, eagerly hops from one topic to the next. A curious and witty performer who likes to ask as many questions as he answers, Smith is ostensibly here to promote his current project, House of the Dragon. .
But he’s happy to share his favorite shows to rewatch (“I’m Alan Partridge” and the American version of “The Office”) and his admiration for Keanu Reeves (“The last time I was here, I met him.”) When in the lobby, I really wanted to go, ‘I love you, Keanu Reeves’), liberally quoting TS Eliot’s poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Plfrock’ along the way.
It is only when he points to a baby in the outside courtyard and whispers intriguingly, “Poor baby that cried all night,” that he hints of fatigue.
We can imagine his character, the impulsive Demon Prince Targaryen, acting quite differently under similar circumstances. In the Game of Thrones prequel, which begins nearly two centuries before the events of the original series, Smith is the dragon-riding brother and eventual son-in-law of King Viserys (Paddy Considine). play. A whimsical figure who walks an almost indistinguishable line between rogue and psychopath, Damon murders his first wife in cold blood and makes precise remarks about the paternity of the king’s grandson over the course of nine episodes. He suddenly decapitated the man who had committed the crime, literally killing him. He was a messenger and married his own niece.
Still, Damon is perhaps the most charismatic, if not the most likable, character in House of the Dragons, which wraps up the first season on Sunday night. The Targaryens rise to the throne when cretinous Aegon (Tom Glyn Carney) takes the throne against the dying wishes of his father, King Viserys, who wanted his wife Raenira (Emma Darcy) to succeed him. . On the brink of civil war—an ideal situation for Daemons who are “most alive when things go wrong,” says Smith. “His brother’s death will probably affect him more than he realizes.”
Dressed in black jeans, silky patterned shirts reminiscent of 1980s upholstery, and well-worn Italian work boots, the actor is equally comfortable in key roles.
As a teenager, Smith was on his way to becoming a professional soccer player, but a back injury forced him to quit the sport altogether. Encouraged by his teacher, he decided to pursue theater. The then 26-year-old Smith, who has few television or stage credits, was cast as his Eleventh Doctor in his long-running sci-fi show Doctor Who, which is almost as central to British culture as the monarchy. rice field. Fittingly, he starred as the youthful Prince Philip in his first two seasons of “The Crown,” playing the Duke of Edinburgh as a thrill-seeking adventurer who struggles to adjust to life in the shadow of his wife. humanized.
About a week after Queen Elizabeth II died, Smith changed flights to fly back to London so he could watch the funeral with his mother. He wasn’t a staunch royalist before making “The Crown,” but he eventually grew to like both the system and the flawed characters within it. “Philip’s sense of mission [Elizabeth] And the country was huge. He didn’t get everything right, but he got a lot of things right. And he was incredibly charismatic. What a character he is. He didn’t give the flying f.
The similarities between Philip and Daemon are, of course, coincidental.
Over English breakfast tea (followed up by a phone call), Smith wonders so much about stepping into the world of Game of Thrones, the messiness of House Targaryen, and why he’s so concerned about the taboo relationship between the two. I talked about not Laenira and Damon.
Does being in ‘Doctor Who’ prepare you to become a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan?
I think so. But the pressure that comes with “Doctor Who” is extraordinary. About this, you share it with 10 other actors of his. Doctor Who is “Doctor Who” and Hamlet is “Hamlet”, right?i was 26 [when I was cast] I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that kind of pressure again. In Britain, anyway, the attention to the work is enormous. [“House of the Dragon”] is a huge global franchise, they tell me, but I’m just going to work at the Watford studios and trying to get the dialogue in the right order. Everyone who leaves “Doctor Who” will miss “Doctor Who” forever. he is the most brilliant character. Living with the idea of being able to time travel is f—awesome. it is infinite. Leaving is the hard part.
Let’s talk about daemons. I’m still not sure if I should think of him as a total sociopath or a lovable rogue. how do you see him
Exactly what I just described. It depends on which side of the bed he gets out of. I think he’s just an agent of chaos in many ways. One of my favorite books of his is The Master and Margarita. It’s magical realism — I like it. This character Woland returns and essentially causes chaos. And it kind of reminds me of that. I was trying not to be too black and white about him.
He doesn’t seem driven by a sense of duty.
Oddly enough, I think he has a sense of duty towards his family. I think he’ll wield a sword for his brother or Laenira. There is a place where he feels alive in the lane of chaos and anxiety and madness. He always lives on the edge of the knife.Have you seen it [2008 documentary about tightrope walker Philippe Petit] “Man on Wire”? That’s Damon. He’s always in the middle of the rope. He feels alive when he is in the middle of the rope.
How do you approach Rhaenyra and Daemon’s relationship, especially the love scene between the two?
it’s difficult. You question it all the time. But modern morality must be removed. It’s another time. It’s a story, and the story needs these two characters of hers to do it. So you do it.But I think I was lucky to be with the director, Claire Kilner. [of “King of the Narrow Sea,” the episode in which Daemon attempts to seduce young Rhaenyra]She handled the sex scenes just as well as I have seen them. I think some people see it and want more. And some people think, “This is overkill.” But I don’t really get into all of them. It’s up to the director to manage it.
You’re like, “Tell me where to stand.”
you learn it that way. It’s kind of like ballet. We have a very good intimacy coordinator.and with me [Milly Alcock, who played young Rhaenyra] I did it so well I laughed just going through that scene. It looks really serious, but me and Millie are peeing in our pants all the time, laughing and saying, what are we doing You try to work your way through the really weird tension in the room and you crack jokes.
Daemon and Rhaenyra sometimes speak to each other in High Valyrian, a language invented for the series. Is it free for you to speak in a language that no one really understands?
It’s pretty liberating. If you have friends and you go to France or somewhere else, they suddenly say, [speaks in French-sounding gibberish] And then the whole other part of them comes out and is like, “Wow, you’re so attractive, what’s this?” I found it in Daemon — what’s the other weird and fascinating part of you?
What is the process of learning it?
So I have a recording. [Smith takes out his phone and plays a voice memo that sounds like: kesso cre no tenko toda luteum priyago rousse na joomla.] And you just listen to it and he breaks it down. got it. Queso… Cle… No… TenkoThen I practice, but I don’t want to get carried away with how he does it. I wanted it to sound like a conversation, in the right language, to feel alive.
There are a lot of time jumps in this series. Was it disorienting for you as a performer?
I don’t know where we are “Where are we in the past?”
You had to wear a lot of wigs. Was it annoying?
I don’t care about wigs. It’s the baldness that goes on underneath—a bit that takes forever. I will continue He’s human, damn it! ”
You were an elite soccer player as a teenager. Did your experience as an athlete lead to your work as an actor?
There are great similarities between sports and art. It’s the preparation, the things you have to do, the pressure to get back up when you’re knocked down, and the response you have to be in the moment. So I find it really useful.
i miss playing soccerI struggled for years [after giving it up]I was going to be a soccer player. That was my whole identity. I am very grateful that I found something like acting as my vocation.
You had a teacher who taught you acting. what do you think he saw in you
He convinced me that I was good at it, and he persuaded others. I am still on good terms with him. His name is Mr Hardingham. He comes to watch every play I make. he’s a really nice guy You’re lucky if he has one teacher to help you transition into something in life that you’re really into.
The final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ received a lot of criticism. So, did you ever feel uneasy about this project?
I thought [viewers] I had a hard time with them. It’s very difficult to tie the stories together. I think the body of work that all the actors and filmmakers have produced is undeniably amazing. I didn’t mind the ending.and i thought [“House of the Dragon”] It was a beast of its own. You can’t pay too much attention to that.
Do you think Rhaenyra and Daemon have a real attraction, or do they just have a shared lust for power? Or can they really be separated when you’re a Targaryen?
I don’t think you can, really. We have a deep but consistent pull for each other for a variety of reasons. There is never just one. It’s difficult because I’ve been asked to comment on dating, but I don’t really think of it in that sense. You just do it and let other people decipher it. You can’t have too many opinions about someone like Daemon.
Right before he cuts off Vaemond’s head, Daemon has a tender moment helping his ailing brother up the stairs. That was the last episode of Paddy Considine. Please tell us about that shoot.
I was just there admiring the paddy fields. You’ll find that it adds a lot of things that weren’t actually included in the script. Throughout the season, we’ve worked so closely together and built relationships with each other that we were able to act spontaneously at certain moments.
Daemon doesn’t seem to age. what is his secret?
He eats vegetables all the time. he sleeps soundly And don’t give flying f-.
Do you like Negroni Suvariato with Prosecco?
I tried the Negroni. But I don’t know if you’ve ever tried one with champagne.
Emma Darcy said it was their favorite cocktail and the internet is going insane.
It sounds like Emma. i have to try it.
when: Sunday, 9 pm
Streaming: HBO Max, Anytime
evaluation: TV-MA (may not be suitable for children under 17)