Aemond is Daemon’s “biggest stan” by design, says actor Ewan Mitchell

Like everyone else who’s had a blow to him that resulted in the death of a cousin, Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) begins the second episode of House of the Dragon with a whirlwind of feelings. But – still a bit conflicted its own killing his cousin at the end of season 1 – the only feeling he wants to talk about now is how “proud” he is to be seen as a threat to someone like his uncle Daemon.

It’s not surprising; both men are second sons who feel fit (and ready) to lead, perhaps even more so than their brothers. They are strategic thinkers, good fighters and strong conversation partners. They are both underrated, and even their aesthetic similarities are not a coincidence, according to Mitchell.

“I’ve always thought Aemond is Daemon’s greatest stan; so much of the image Aemond has put together over the years is almost a tribute to his hero,” Mitchell said during a recent roundtable discussion. In the fog of war, Aemond sees Daemon as the adversary he stares beyond the borders of the Targaryen family. “Aemond idolizes Daemon; there’s almost a romantic quality that Aemond thinks Daemon came so close to – or rather, he sent people to end Aemond’s life, but he didn’t want to do it himself. (…) So Aemond likes to be noticed by his idol.”

Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen, wearing armor and sitting at a table in House of the Dragon

Image: HBO

It’s a sentiment that Mitchell sympathizes with – and that he wanted to exploit in his own way with his own feelings towards Matt Smith, who he was watching Doctor who like a child.

“Matt Smith brought such a vibrancy and electricity (to the doctor), and a youthfulness that was a little more accessible to me as a kid,” Mitchell says. “So I thought it was an interesting thing to never take Matt Smith off that stage. I wanted to keep a little distance. (…) I just wanted to keep our eye contact that we share in episode 8 of season 1, that moment when they face each other at the banquet table.”

To keep the fire between them this season (even if they’re separated by several Westerosian miles), Mitchell took inspiration from James Gandolfini’s performance in The sopranosrecalling a story he heard about Gandolfini puts a stone in his shoe if he wanted to let the anger simmer beneath the surface. “That was something I wanted to explore with Aemond, namely putting this coin in my shoe. It’s something that will constantly remind him in the future that Daemon came so close to ending him. And maybe there’s a sense of guilt that Aemond feels about that.