Actor Steve Toussaint has opened up about being the target of racist backlash after the British actor, who is of Barbadian descent, was cast as Corlys Velaryon in HBO‘s forthcoming Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon.
As The Guardian reports, Toussaint made the comments in a new interview with Radio Times about his lead role in the series. When news of his casting was announced, Toussaint said, one of the first images he saw was a drawing of the character from the original books, next to a picture of the actor.
In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice books, which form the basis of both House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes, The Guardian points out. In the new series, however, members of the House of Velaryon are Black nobles, with long silver dreadlocks.
“Racist abuse” from fans of the book series followed news of his casting, Toussaint explained. “I kind of thought: ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that,” he said. “But as this guy is the richest [character] in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.”
Toussaint, who has also acted on shows including CSI: Miami, Skins, Death in Paradise, Doctor Who, It’s a Sin and more, added that while he was wary of lending the online abuse prominence by addressing it, he felt it was important to speak up.
“I don’t want this to be my story. But I’m not going to deny that it happened. Because it does. It’s out there. And it should never be something that puts someone off from doing something they want to do.”
House of the Dragon‘s 10-episode first season will premiere on HBO this Sunday (August 21).