The Game of Thrones fan base is large and passionate, but unfortunately, that passion can extend to less favorable places. Steve Toussaint, who plays Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon, received racist backlash toward his casting. The actor has responded to these reactions saying he finds it rather ridiculous that a “rich black guy” in Westeros is more unbelievable than flying dragons.
Steve Toussaint received racist backlash following his casting in ‘House of the Dragon’
When Steve Toussaint was announced for House of the Dragon, some Game of Thrones fans had somewhat controversial reactions. The Targaryen family is strict about keeping the bloodline pure, and many believed him to be a Targaryen from the early trailers. As shown in episode 1, Corlys Velaryon isn’t a Targaryen. Other fans simply found it hard to believe that a black man could achieve wealth in Westeros
In the series, Velaryon is also known as the “Sea Snake.” He is of Valyrian descent and built up his wealth to become the richest man in Westeros. He built the largest navy in the Seven Kingdoms with the wealth he made and later married Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best). While Viserys (Paddy Considine) was chosen as the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Corlys serves on the king’s council and offers advice.
Toussaint responds to fan backlash
In an interview with Men’s Health, Toussaint addressed the backlash from Game of Thrones fans. The actor finds it odd that fans have difficulty accepting a “rich black guy” in this world but don’t bat an eye toward flying dragons.
“They are happy with a dragon flying,” Toussaint shares. “They’re happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”
Toussaint believes the reasoning behind this could be that people can’t imagine black people existing during this time. However, he explains that black people have existed throughout all of history, so a powerful black man in House of the Dragon shouldn’t be controversial.
“So many people are basing their idea of the history of this country on a few films and stuff that were made in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, which don’t bear any resemblance to the truth,” Toussaint adds. “Historically, people of my hue and your hue, we didn’t just turn up here in the ’70s or the ’60s. There was a point when the ruler of his country, ‘the Caesar,’ was an African man. There are street names that tell you there were people who looked like us in this country even then, but for some reason, it seems to be very hard for people to swallow.”
Toussaint is not the only actor to deal with this issue
Toussaint is the latest actor of color to deal with racially-motivated backlash from fans. Star Wars has dealt with this kind of response with the casting of John Boyega, Kelly Marie-Tran, and most recently, Moses Ingram in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Unfortunately, this is something that franchises will have to deal with as every fan base has darker, more troubling areas within them.
Episode one of House of the Dragon is now streaming on HBO Max.