hough history and fanboydom might remember otherwise, Viserys Targaryen is the true unsung hero of Game of Thrones. Think about it: Had it not been for him, Daenerys would have never married Khal Drogo and she wouldn’t have received that carton of dragon eggs as a wedding gift. Hence, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss would not have the killer keep ’em watching show/series finale moments featuring the flying mythical beasts that keep ardent viewers, including yours truly, salivating for more.
“I’m so happy to hear someone finally appreciate him,” Harry Lloyd, who gave life to the arrogant “Beggar King,” tells SFR. “He gets a lot of shit. People lump him in with Joffrey and I’m like, that’s a completely different kettle of fish.”
Lloyd, who started reading the A Song of Ice and Fire books as soon as he was cast, felt Viserys had gotten a bad rep, as all his interactions are told from his sister’s point of view.
“He doesn’t get his own chapter, he’s not his own narrator, so that was the great thing about the TV series—everyone gets to be their own main character,” he elaborates, “and from where I was sitting, he was the main character in this book and no one really gets it; he is the king and everyone else is just faffing around.”
Ever the trendsetter, Viserys was one of the first main characters in the series to be axed, and his death by bling is one of the greatest demise scenes ever. “To be honest, I’d be sad that he wasn’t still around, if he hadn’t gone quite so spectacularly, if he’d died of pneumonia on episode six or something,” he says.
We’re sitting in the courtyard of Downtown Subscription. Lloyd is taking a break from shooting WGN America’s Manhattan, where he plays one of the men behind WWII’s infamous Manhattan Project.
Through a twist of fate and the clear Los Alamos connection, Lloyd ended up in George RR Martin land.
“I had a wonderful breakfast with him the other day. He’s just kind of lovely and so relaxed,” Lloyd says. “He’s like the mayor. Everyone just came up to the table and was like, ‘Hi George.’ As ever, like any fan of the books, you feel bad for taking up his time because you really feel like he needs to be getting on, but he’s on it,” he says, taking a sip of black coffee.
The great-great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens advances that Manhattan is a fictionalized version of its source material, à la West Wing. “It’s talking about the human experience of it—that guy wasn’t actually the president—but they’re still dealing with the issues,” he says. “Obviously nuclear science is pretty impenetrable, it turns out, so [father of the atomic bomb J Robert] Oppenheimer is still around, but he’s almost this mythical figure within the series.”
In the show, which premieres in July, Lloyd is Paul Crosley, an ambitious Oxford-educated scientist who’s part of the core implosion team. “I didn’t have to worry about the accent. I just had to posh it up a little bit,” the Londoner says.
“It’s a fascinating story and so relevant to now,” he continues. “This is when the world changed. Whenever you read about it—it’s a natural thriller—the fact that fission was discovered in 1939 as the war broke out, and the fact that this is the bomb that ended the war; it’s a complete race against time.”
Two months into his shooting stint in Santa Fe, Lloyd has used whatever time off to take in the food and explore surrounding areas like Tent Rocks and Bandelier National Monument.
“There’s loads to do,” he enthuses. “You turn up and you’re like, ‘This is super quiet’ but you just pick over the surface, and it’s a lovely place to be.”
As part of the Santa Fe Film Festival, Lloyd presents two pictures. The first one, Big Significant Things, on Wednesday evening, and three days later, Closer to the Moon, a true story of a bank heist perpetrated by Jewish members of Romania’s Communist Party, who pulled the crime off under the guise of shooting a movie.
In the former, Lloyd is Craig, a Jersey boy who suddenly decides to embark on a solo road trip to check out the South’s greatest roadside attractions. “He thought he’d had this romantic adventure and meet all kinds of people but he’s, himself, not that kind of guy,” he says. “He relies on his iPhone to look for adventure, and doesn’t really know where to find it.”
For the indie film, which recently had its world premiere at SXSW, Lloyd starred in as well as executive produced. “It’s slightly terrifying,” he confesses of the dichotomy. “It’s a miracle that any day gets completed.”
As for Closer to the Moon, Lloyd calls it “a wonderful, eccentric film,” one that tackles bigger themes, becoming “a coming of age story about the duplicity of the government. But it’s also funny and heartbreaking and has this wonderful, dry Eastern European humor.”
Given that two of the film’s producers are based locally and if Manhattan blows up he’ll be back next year to shoot a second season, Lloyd wouldn’t mind an extended Santa Fe sojourn.
“I’m filming this TV show, I’ve got these two films here and George is here. It does feels like I can retire here,” he jokes. “I’m sure a lot of people feel that when they come to Santa Fe—it all seems to come full circle.”
Big Significant Things