House of the Dragon VFX supervisor Mike Bell explains how Daemon’s dragon represents his true nature. Portrayed by Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, the Rogue Prince has quickly become one of the most beloved characters introduced in the Game of the Thrones prequel despite being particularly arrogant, callous, and capable of cold-blooded murder. However, this is exactly what makes Daemon such a complex character and one of author George R.R. Martin’s favorites on House of the Dragon. Despite his occasionally appalling behavior, Daemon is often charismatic, loyal, and heroic, and he’s an experienced dragonrider on Caraxes.
Mike Bell, VFX supervisor for the Moving Picture Company which worked on House of the Dragon, talks to Screen Rant about bringing the show’s fantastical creatures to life and reveals some insights into Daemon’s true nature in the process. Bell describes how Daemon’s dragon Caraxes is “unique and different from the others” due to his “serpent-like” neck. He also highlights a moment in episode 1 where Daemon and Caraxes are quite similar. Read what Bell shared below:
Our animation supervisor, Ross Burgess, was really keen on developing the flight cycles of these dragons, as well as the walk cycles and their attitudes way before we even started working on the shots. The animation team started thinking about even the way they shake their head. Meleys does it the way a lioness would do it, while Caraxes was unique and different from the others. He’s much more serpent-like and slightly twitchy; a bit on edge. We take our cues from what came before, and both reptiles and birds always look at the horizon for threats. Lots of thought went into the way they move and the way they walked.
Miguel was always saying that Caraxes should not really look like he belongs on the ground, because of the shape. I’ve got a couple of racing dogs, like lurchers and greyhounds, and he sort of linked them to that. They’re amazing when they’re at full speed, but when they lie down, they look a bit awkward. They’re almost built for a specific thing. In episode one, there’s a moment where Daemon’s calming Caraxes in the cave, and it’s twisted and trying to fit into the cave, but he’s feeling like he doesn’t like to be confined. He wants to be out there flying, like Daemon.
HOTD’s Dragon Details Make The Show Stronger
It’s interesting to hear from the House of the Dragon VFX supervisor about how the show’s titular beasts were designed to mirror their riders. This attention to detail that creator George R.R. Martin and the show’s VFX team have towards the dragons makes the show much stronger. First off, in both Game of Thrones and its prequel, the fantasy world’s dragons are depicted with only two legs and wings, which is more anatomically accurate than having four legs.
Furthermore, all 16 dragons on House of the Dragon are like characters themselves, each with distinct appearances and personalities. As Bell mentions, they even begin to take on aspects of their rider’s personality and mirror them. In addition to yearning to be free like Dameon, Caraxes is a bit unpredictable and dangerous, just like his rider. Another example is Meleys, the dragon ridden by Rhaenys Targaryen, aka Queen Who Never Was, who appears to be regal and matriarchal, with horns resembling a crown.
In addition to its many human characters, House of the Dragon season 1 was also tasked with introducing over a dozen dragons and developing their distinct personalities. The season 1 finale even saw the death of a dragon, Arrax, and his rider Lucerys, killed by Aemond Targaryen and the monstrous Vhagar. With the war of succession set to heat up in House of the Dragon season 2, there will be plenty more dragon battles to come. While these heavyweight bouts will surely be the source of some exciting action, they will also be bittersweet, as the Dance of the Dragons ultimately leads to the extinction of dragons in Westeros for the next 200 years.
More: How Many Dragons The Greens Have In HOTD’s Civil War (& Who Rides Them)