Greg Yaitanes interview: ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘The Old Man’ director
“That moment specifically, was a shot that I had in my head for a long time [and] it was the single shot that I worked on the most,” reveals producer and director Greg Yaitanes, about the climactic dragon battle sequence in the Season 1 finale of “House of the Dragon.” For our recent webchat he adds, “I was really excited about the idea and I always remember this when I’m on a plane and we’re in turbulence or a storm, and we go above the clouds, I love the idea that the final moment would be so beautiful and such a relief and while you were catching your breath, in that moment comes this moment of horror. The goal was to really try to be half a beat ahead of the audience, anticipating what the next moment was going to be.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“House of the Dragon,” the prequel series to HBO’s megahit “Game of Thrones,” was created by “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin and collaborator Ryan Condal, and stars Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, Emma D’Arcy as Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (with Milly Alcock portraying the younger princess), Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower (with Emily Carey playing the younger Alicent), Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower, Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon and Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Targaryen. The 10-episode first season is set two centuries before the events of “Game of Thrones,” 172 years before the birth of the now-iconic “Thrones” character Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), depicting the events leading up to and covering the bloody Targaryen civil war of succession known as the “Dance of the Dragons.”
Yaitanes is credited as co-executive producer on the epic drama, for which he also directed the second and third episodes as well as his crowning achievement, the season finale “The Black Queen.” He also directed the third and fourth episodes of the acclaimed FX drama series “The Old Man,” which follows former CIA agent and fugitive Dan Chase (Oscar winner Jeff Bridges) who is on the run from assassins and the FBI, which recruits Harold Harper (Emmy winner John Lithgow) to lead the hunt for Chase.
The Emmy winner had his work cut out for him on the “House of the Dragon” season finale, tasked with bringing to life the first ever aerial dragon clash in “Game of Thrones” history. After Rhaenyra’s young son Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) encounters Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) at Storm’s End, the two young men take to the skies on dragonback as the older Aemond pursues the younger Lucerys. The breathtaking battle sequence takes place in heavy rain and cloud, amplifying the tension when the enormous Vhagar suddenly appears over the smaller Arrax, culminating in a genuinely shocking scene between the two beasts. After taunting Lucerys and his agile Arrax, the vengeful Aemond (riding the more imposing Vaghar) screams “Vaghar, no!” as his giant beast obliterates Arrax like a predator devours its prey. Yaitanes was proud of what he and his team accomplished with the primal “dance of the dragons,” perfectly illustrating one of the series’ central themes; that while House Targaryen wields formidable power as dragon-riders, their inability to fully control the dragons will ultimately be their undoing. “That was the exact call back to the first episode. You know where Viserys tells Rhaenyra that it’s an illusion of men control dragons,” he explains. “The boys, essentially they are young men, lose control of the dragons and then it becomes really dragon to dragon; a fight for survival.”