'House of the Dragon' star Matt Smith improvised this memorable scene from season 1

Matt Smith HBO House of the Dragon Season 2
(Image credit: Theo Whitman/HBO)

If you're anything like us, you're doing a rewatch of that first "House of the Dragon" season in anticipation of the season 2 premiere of the "Game of Thrones" prequel series, which will debut on HBO and Max on Sunday, June 16. And during our refresher binge, we were surprised to find that one memorable scene from the show's first season — an episode 8 moment between Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and his brother, the ailing King Viserys (Paddy Considine) — featured a key improvisation from Smith. 

In the eighth episode of the prequel series, an ill and bedridden Viserys musters up the strength to march into the throne room and sit on the Iron Throne one last time to defend daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and her children's rights of succession against the relentless Greens. During the scene, Viserys's crown slips from his head, and in an unplanned but still-in-character move, Smith's Daemon retrieves and reinstates the crown atop his brother's head. 

The episode's director, Geeta Patel, discussed filming the moment in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: "There was one moment in the throne room where Daemon helps Viserys up the stairs to the throne 'cause Viserys is so weak, he can't make it himself. First, a soldier comes up to Viserys, and Viserys shakes him away and says, 'No, no, no. I can do this myself.' He has the pride. And then another person comes to him and he thinks it's a soldier and it's actually his brother."

"When we were shooting that — I think the rehearsal again, the first day — the crown fell off of Paddy's head and Matt picked it up and we just kept going. We didn't stop [filming]," Patel continued. "There was a discovery there of this moment. So then the three of us got together and they were like, 'We felt this. This felt like the turning point in our relationship.' It's just a silent moment."

Patel revealed: "I was so thankful that accident happened, that the crown fell off because it proved to be, at least for me, quite a heavy moment and quite a turning point for a storyline that had started in the pilot: 'Hey, I want your crown and by the end here I'm gonna put the crown back on your head and I'm gonna help you to your throne'." That evidence of the siblings' bond is made even more poignant when Viserys succumbs to his illness by the episode's end. 

We already know that Daemon is a staunch supporter of his wife-niece Rhaenyra's right to follow in her father's footsteps and assume the Iron Throne — see what Matt Smith said about the Targaryen succession war for proof — so old Viserys would at least be proud of that. 

Tom's Guide will keep you posted on all intel surrounding "House of the Dragon" season 2, including behind-the-scenes tidbits like cast improvisations, directorial decisions and more. In the meantime, you can revisit that moving brotherly moment between Daemon and King Viserys by streaming the show's first season with a Max subscription. 

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Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is a writer-editor covering culture, food and drink, travel and general lifestyle in New York City. She was previously the Deputy Editor at My Imperfect Life, the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York.