The last two months, House of the Dragon has offered a look into the twisty, messed up Targaryen family before their inevitable fall. As the various family members have spent years scheming and trying to dick each other over, the physical condition of Paddy Considine’s Viserys had gradually worsened until his death finally came about in episode eight. What started with small cuts on his hands from sitting on the Iron Throne evolved into losing an entire arm and half his face as the show jumped forward in time.
Prosthetic designer Barrie Gower recently spoke to Variety about the process of the king’s transformation. Gower has experience in this sort of thing: he previously worked on Game of Thrones and created the Night King, to three time Emmy-winning success. His other credits this year include Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and helping to bring about Vecna on Netflix’s Stranger Things. For Viserys, he talked about researching “various flesh-eating disorders” such as necrosis and leprosy. “They could give us a good indication for textures, colors, glosses, how dry things would be. It’s very grounded in the real world of horrible diseases,” he explained.
It was important to make sure Viserys’ disease would be a slow killer, continued Gower, and there were seven stages to the disease. Getting the sores on Considine’s body took the most effort, as they required silicone molds that were pressed onto the skin, and were shaved into the actor’s beard and hairline. And for Viserys’ final two episodes, his bone thin appearance required scenes to be shot twice: once with a body double said to have a “pronounced bone structure,” and the other time with Considine, whose face would then be digitally added to the double’s body.
During episode eight, Viserys removes the mask covering the scarred half of his face for all to see, in a last ditch effort to get the warring sides of his family to finally come together in peace. Achieved through full prosthetic makeup and green-painted dots for VFX to remove in post, Gower and his team wanted the king to feel sadness and remorse before he finally passed on.
For fans of House or practical effects in general, Gower’s process is a fascinating one to look at, and well worth the read. Variety’s piece also offers some brief insight into HBO’s upcoming The Last of Us series, where he’s also doing prosthetics for the mushroom-like Clickers. There wasn’t much about the show he could divulge, but he did call it “a dream come true. For a monster maker, it’s exactly the type of job that I got into the business to do.”
House of the Dragon’s season one finale will premiere tonight on HBO.
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