In ‘House of the Dragon’ Fighting Motivates Criston Cole

House of the Dragon introduced a new cast of characters, including Ser Criston Cole. Ser Criston is a knight who has made quite an impression on Rhaeynra. He is one of the few men who has real battle experience, and he bests Daemon Targaryen in the tournament. According to Fabien Frankel, fighting is what motivates his character in House of the Dragon.

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon. Criston wears a suit of armor and carries his helmet under his arm.
Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

How did Criston Cole beat Daemon Targaryen?

The premiere episode of House of the Dragon features an eye-catching tournament where Ser Criston Cole faces Daemon Targaryen. Surprisingly, Criston defeats Daemon in the competition. Although there’s no concrete answer as to why Daemon couldn’t beat Criston, ego played a big part. Thinking that he has defeated Criston, Daemon turns to celebrate, and that’s when Criston overpowers him.

ScreenRant also points out that in George R.R. Martin’s novels, Criston is an exceptionally skilled fighter. He later becomes Princess Rhaenyra’s sworn shield and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. In episode 2, Rhaenyra also points out that Criston is the only knight who has seen real battle.

Fighting motivates Criston Cole in ‘House of the Dragon’

Criston and Daemon also have very different fighting styles. Criston actor Fabian Frankel described Daemon’s style of fighting as “lackluster” while speaking with Collider.

“For me, Criston is meticulous and hard work fighting,” he continued. “He’s very good at it, but I don’t think it’s effortless, unlike Daemon, who I actually think it’s effortless for. With Criston, he enjoys the sport of it. He puts himself in it. I don’t consider him a beautiful fighter. I think he actually is just very instinctive. He’s killer.”

Additionally, Criston’s livelihood and success became dependent on his fighting skills. “I think his motivation is fighting. He loves to fight. He loves to compete. It’s the sport of competition that he enjoys,” Frankel said.


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“He’s good at it. And when you’re faced with a very limited possibility in your upbringing of what the world’s going to offer you, and you have something that you’re good at, you better put your eggs in that basket, and that’s what he does.”

Criston Cole is Dornish in ‘House of the Dragon’

It’s worth noting that in the premiere of House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra and Alicent realize that Criston Cole is Dornish. According to Vox, Dorne is the “southernmost of Westeros’s Seven Kingdoms, and is ethnically distinct and particularly foreign-seeming to the other six.”

Frankel made sure to consider Criston’s ethnicity while playing the part. “I came back to the fact that Criston Cole is Dornish and of Dornish descent, and is the only character in this story that is,” he told Collider.

“That played a massive part for me. I’d written in this journal, it was a note to myself, or a letter to myself, reminding myself of what Criston Cole had gone through to get to this stage, and what being here at this tournament, at this time, coming from what he’d come from, meant to him. I would go back to that quite a lot.”

House of the Dragon airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.