King Viserys Targaryen’s Makeup Was Inspired by “Real World” Diseases


In “House of the Dragon,” we watch King Viserys Targaryen slowly become overtaken by his terminal illness. Barrie Gower, the prosthetics designer behind the king’s ever-evolving look, recently shared exactly how he created the makeup we see on our screens, revealing that the special effects makeup was a matter of (depicting) life and death. The self-proclaimed “monster maker” and Emmy-winning special effects artist (who was also responsible for “Stranger Things”‘s Vecna) turned Paddy Considine into the sickly King Viserys Targaryen over the course of eight episodes, portraying over 20 years of slow death and a relentless case of leprosy.

“It’s very grounded in the real world of horrible diseases.”

According to an interview with Variety, Gower and his team didn’t want to make Considine look like a monster, so they looked to real diseases for inspiration.

“We researched various flesh-eating disorders,” Gower told the publication. “Necrosis, leprosy, all kinds of horrible references. Lots of interesting shapes, colors and ulcers. They could give us a good indication for textures, colors, glosses, how dry things would be. It’s very grounded in the real world of horrible diseases.”

Because “House of the Dragon” covers such a wide time frame, Gower and his team were challenged with illustrating the king’s illness gradually while still evoking shock.

“Over the course of the season we had about seven different stages, which would be told through his make-up, hair, the receding hairline, the pallor and the color of his skin, texture of the skin, and then various small sores on the body,” Gower said. “We had little silicone molds that you can press onto the skin and peel them off. We had cheek appliances, little sores that were shaved into Paddy’s own beard and his hairline. With the silicone bald cap, we could recede the hairline and had sores in there.”

When it came time to depict the frailest stage of the king’s life, Gower had to repeat the process he used for Considine on Considine’s much-skinnier body double as well. After doing the makeup on both actors, the visual effects team were able to manipulate Considine’s face onto his body double.

The visual and special effects teams collaborated quite a bit to achieve King Viserys’s sickly look. For the king’s half-missing face, they covered parts of Considine’s face with green makeup, which allowed them to edit the areas out in post production to create the illusion of missing skin.

Despite Gower’s experience creating monsters, the “House of the Dragon” team wanted viewers to feel “sadness” and “remorse” when the king passed away. Thanks to some incredible acting and Gower’s real-life inspiration, the special effects successfully humanized the king’s illness. Keep scrolling for a glimpse into the king’s life-to-death progression.

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