House of the Dragon prosthetics designer, Barrie Gower, detailed the gruelling process of showing the transformation and physical decline of King Viserys (Paddy Considine) throughout the first season of the series.
Viserys, according to Considine on the West of Westeros podcast, said that Viserys’ illness is “a form of leprosy” that “becomes a metaphor for being kind, and the stress and strain that it puts on you.”
This decline takes place over 20 years in the show, so Gower had his work cut out for him in order to make the progress of the illness seem natural and consistent.
As Gower explains: “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 colour of his skin, texture of the skin, and then various small sores on the body.”
To achieve this effect, Bower and his team “had little silicone models 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.”
Once the illness had reached its final stages, the work Bower had to do became more difficult. In fact, to make Considine seem like a walking corpse, a body double was used with CGI to fill in the gaps.
“For one or two scenes,” continued Bower, “we had a body double who was very slender and had a very pronounced bone structure. [W]e shot some of the scenes with sores on his back, necrosis on his collarbone and shoulders. Then we shot the same scene with Paddy, and VFX were able to manipulate Paddy’s face onto the double’s body.”
Paddy Considine’s portrayal of Viserys was a highlight in an already stellar series and the effects department didn’t let us down, giving us a gruesome image of a slowly dying king.
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