Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

House Of The Dragon Star Nanna Blondell Was Worried Viewers Would Hate Her Character

"House of the Dragon" star Nanna Blondell revealed she initially feared viewers would hate her character in the HBO series. The Swedish actor appears in Season 1 of the "Game of Thrones" prequel as an adult Laena Velaryon, the dragon-riding daughter of Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best). Blondell is the third actor to play Laena in the series after Nova Foueillis-Mosé and Savannah Steyn portrayed younger versions of the character in earlier episodes.

Blondell features in Episode 6, "The Princess and the Queen" as the adult Laena, who is married to Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and living in Pentos with their children and dragons. Unfortunately, tragedy tears the Targaryen family apart. Laena struggles through a violent childbirth, unable to deliver the baby, while Daemon is left to decide whether to proceed with a medieval cesarean that would kill Laena, though possibly save their child. Laena opts for a dragon rider's death instead, commanding her dragon, Vhagar, to burn her alive.

Appearing on "The Official Game of Thrones Podcast" with co-stars Ryan Corr and Gavin Spokes, Blondell spoke of how she feared viewers would despise Laena for her fiery suicide, as well as what it was like shooting scenes as the rider of Westeros' largest, fiercest dragon.

Nanna Blondell feared viewers would hate Laena for choosing to die by dragon-fire

Earlier in Episode 6, Laena Velaryon informs Daemon (and viewers) that she has no wish to succumb to a Lord's death, but instead wants to die as she lived — as a dragon rider. Laena's death by dragon fire fulfills her promise, though actor Nanna Blondell was worried Laena's decision would turn "House of the Dragon" fans against her character.

"I remember when I first read [the script], I was like, 'Oh my god, is she sure the baby's really dead,'" explained Blondell. "[It's] crazy to go burn yourself." Sarah Hess, who wrote the episode, assured the actor that Laena's decision was more understandable given what viewers had already witnessed in Episode 1 with Aemma Arryn's (Sian Brooke) death. When King Viserys (Paddy Considine) is given the same option as his brother Daemon, Viserys chooses to sacrifice his wife in an attempt to save the baby. Both Aemma and their child die.

"Because we also get to see so little of her character, I think they really wanted to give her a bang ending," Blondell continued. "But I must admit in the beginning, I was like, 'This is crazy, [viewers] are gonna hate her.'"

Filming scenes on Vhagar was a slower experience for Nanna Blondell

Season 1, Episode 6 of "House of the Dragon" also introduced viewers to Vhagar, the largest living dragon after Aegon the Conqueror's Balerion the Black Dread. Balerion's skull is used as a shrine in the Red Keep throughout the series. Vhagar is the only surviving dragon from Aegon's original trio, and was ridden by Visenya Targaryen when Aegon and his sister-wives arrived from Dragonstone to conquer Westeros.

By Season 1 of the "Game of Thrones" prequel series, Vhagar is over 150 years old and significantly larger than other dragons. Vhagar's colossal size makes it slower than the average "Game of Thrones" dragon, something that took Nanna Blondell aback during filming. 

"The others, they have smaller dragons. So they get to do things like more rollercoaster riding," Blondell said. "Mine — Vhagar — is so big, so it's like, really slow." Vhagar may be slow, but the dragon remains the fiercest fire-breathing beast in "House of the Dragon," turning the tides for the Greens after young Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) claims the dragon in Episode 7, "Driftmark," following Laena's funeral.