'House of the Dragon' Star Ewan Mitchell Teases Aemond's “Call to Greatness” After This Week's Shocking Climax

This story contains spoilers for episode four of season two of House of the Dragon.

Aemond Targaryen is now the most dangerous man in Westeros. Portrayed by Ewan Mitchell with a steely resolve, beset by fleeting moments of vulnerability, Aemond has been a wildcard as the Targaryen civil war heats up, and now he’s finally put himself in the game in a big way.

Tonight’s episode of House of the Dragon, “A Dance of Dragons,” finally made good on the season’s promise to deliver all-out war, as the Game of Thrones prequel unleashed its first major battle scene. Helmed by stalwart HBO director Alan Taylor and written by series showrunner Ryan Condal, “A Dance of Dragons” ends with the battle of Rook’s Rest, in a sequence that just may measure up to the best of Thrones—all thanks to Aemond’s actions.

The battle is a ruse between Aemond and Ser Criston Cole to lure a dragon from Rhaenyra’s side out, so Aemond—who rides Vhagar, the biggest dragon in all the land—can swoop in with a sneak attack. And that’s exactly what happens when Rhaenyra takes the bait and dispatches Rhaenys Targaryen and her dragon. Only, she’s met by Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), feeling impotent and insecure, hoping to prove his worthiness as king in battle. The result is a climax that lives up to the episode’s title, with a gnarly three-way dragon fight.

Aemond emerges from the woods on Vhagar and unleashes fire on both of the other riders — yes, including his own brother. The resulting chaos leaves Aegon and his dragon seriously injured and grounded in the nearby forest, while Aemond and Vhagar kill Rhaenys and her dragon. For those keeping score, that’s now two big bodies from the other side Aemond has claimed via Vhagar (the other being his nephew and Rhaenyra’s son Lucerys in the season 1 finale). And now, with Aegon either dead or close to it, Aemond is (theoretically) poised to take Aegon’s place as ruler.

In the wake of this plot twist, GQ talked to Mitchell to discuss whether or not Aemond loves his brother, filming the battle of Rook’s Rest, cultivating a persona based on fear, the relationship between a dragonrider and dragon, and much more.

GQ: Why do you think Aemond attacks Aegon?

Ewan Mitchell: I think it’s that shared history that they have. It’s their two characters’ trajectories finally accumulating at this crescendo, this turning point that, going forward, won’t be the same again. This brotherly bond, if you can call it that — if you could ever have called it that. Aegon was very much the ringleader of Aemond’s bullying and ultimate misfortune as a kid.

Aemond forgives, but he does not forget, and on top of that, you have this second son who is studying with the maesters, training with the sword, while Aegon is seen as squandering his inheritance. I think Aemond feels like Aegon lacks the perseverance to be a leader. Those two things together — you know Aemond, he holds a grudge.

Do you think there’s any love there at all? Take the Cargyll twins—in episode two we saw that even though they were on opposite sides, they still cared for each other til the end.

I think there is. As much as Aemond hates his brother, he also yearns for love and acceptance from him. But in Aemond’s world, love is a weakness. He cannot be seen as weak in any way, shape, or form. He’s cultivated this image over the years. You see a very different Aemond between episodes six and seven in the first series. He’s changed physically and psychologically through this insecurity and all of the torment he endured as a kid. He’s created this hardshell, this cold persona, this image, [that] he wants the whole world to know. He wants the whole world to know that he is, ultimately, this neigh-unkillable Terminator-like horror. He cannot be seen as weak at all costs. Weak isn’t in Aemond’s vocabulary. Or at least that’s what he wants you to think.

I think that ties into the scene in the brothel from last week. I like the idea that when he gets up and stands up, naked, it’s almost as if he’s being reborn again at that moment, with this even harder, steelier exterior than we’ve seen before.

That’s interesting you say that. I’ve always kind of played with the fact that Aemond possesses this code. It’s similar to Michael Mann’s Heat. Robert De Niro, his character, has that famous line, “Never get attached to anyone you’re not prepared to walk out on in 30 seconds flat when you feel the heat around the corner.” That’s the code that his character lives by: to maneuver the world without getting caught by the police.

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