"House of the Dragon" Star Steve Toussaint Slams Racist Criticism of His Character

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"House of the Dragon" star Steve Toussaint has been getting hit with racist criticism since he was cast in the HBO prequel, but he's not letting negative comments get to him. Prior to the show's action-packed Aug. 21 premiere, Toussaint, who plays patriarch Lord Corlys Velaryon, spoke to Men's Health about joining the "Game of Thrones" fandom as a Black actor and viewers' reactions to his casting — which some have protested about.

"They're happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That's beyond the pale."

"For the most part of this whole experience, I've been sanguine about it," said the actor. ". . . What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, 'Oh my god, I can't wait, this is going to be great!'" Toussaint added that even some of the "House of the Dragon" supporting cast would tell him during filming, "'It's great to have this representation.'"

Toussaint's Lord Corlys isn't explicitly referred to as white in the book "House of the Dragon" is adapted from, George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood." But given that he's of Valyrian descent with hair described as "Targaryen white-blonde" in the novel — and the fact that many characters on the show are portrayed by white actors — some viewers didn't anticipate Toussaint's casting.

Despite positive praise from some fans, Toussaint shared that it's been hard for others to accept diversity in the period drama. "So many people are basing their idea of the history of this country on a few films and stuff that were made in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, which don't bear any resemblance to the truth," he added in his interview. ". . . There are street names that tell you there were people who looked like us in this country . . . but for some reason, it seems to be very hard for people to swallow. And as you said, they are happy with a dragon flying. They're happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That's beyond the pale."

The "Game of Thrones" franchise is no stranger to criticism. The original HBO series previously received backlash for its predominately white cast and inaccurate depictions of people of color on the show. "Game of Thrones" was also criticized for its exploitative treatment of women, which may have prompted the noticeable changes in its prequel's casting and content.

In a roundtable discussion, co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik clarified to POPSUGAR, in regards to the show's history of excessive sex and violence, how "House of the Dragon" still approaches these subjects. "We're very aware of the time that we live in. We're very aware of how different the world is now versus 10 years ago when the original show premiered," they said. ". . . It's 'Game of Thrones.' There is sex and violence as part of the story. The particular way that we've approached it in this time is making sure that whenever you're going to have any kind of . . . sex or violence on screen, that there's a compelling story reason for it, and that it's a story that needs to be told. It's not being done gratuitously or to titillate or anything like that."

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