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SYFY WIRE House of the Dragon

Believe it or not, Matt Smith says 'House of the Dragon' is actually less stressful than 'Doctor Who'

"The pressure that came with Doctor Who is extraordinary. On this, you’re sharing it with like 10 other actors."

By Josh Weiss
Matt Smith in Doctor Who and House Of The Dragon

Trading the time-traveling TARDIS for the deadly geopolitics of Westeros is more of a relief than you might think. Recently sitting down with The Los Angeles Times, actor Matt Smith explained how taking on the role of Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon felt less stressful than shouldering the responsibility of the Eleventh Time Lord on Doctor Who.

"The pressure that came with Doctor Who is extraordinary," he admitted. "On this, you’re sharing it with like 10 other actors. Doctor Who is Doctor Who, Hamlet is Hamlet, you know? I was 26 [when I was cast] and I don’t know if I’ll ever feel pressure like that again. In Britain, anyway, the focus on that job is enormous. [“House of the Dragon”] is a huge global franchise, or so they tell me, but I just go to work in a studio in Watford and try to get the lines in the right order. I think that everyone who leaves Doctor Who will forever miss Doctor Who, because it doesn’t get any better. He is the most glorious character. To live with the idea of being able to time travel is f—ing amazing. It’s limitless. It’s a tough part to leave."

As the first season draws to a close this Sunday, Daemon (aka the "Internet Boyfriend") must call on all of his ruthlessness and cunning to prevent the Hightowers from seizing the Iron Throne in the wake of King Viserys' sudden passing. "His brother’s death is going to have a bigger effect on him than he probably even realizes," Smith teased. We didn't get to see his reaction just yet, as the most recent episode focused on the Hightower coup. While the imperturbable prince has shown himself to be self-serving and cruel, there is one thing he cares about more than himself: family.

"I think he’d lie on his sword for his brother or Rhaenyra," Smith continued. "He’s got a weird moral compass — perverse and strange, but nevertheless, there is a set of laws that he’s guided by. Where he feels alive is in that lane of chaos and anxiety and madness. He lives on a knife’s edge, all the time. Have you seen [2008 documentary about tightrope walker Philippe Petit] Man on Wire? That’s Daemon. He is constantly in the middle of the rope. He feels alive when he’s in the middle of the rope."

Dominic Toretto approves! Can we get a Fast & Furious crossover with the Game of Thrones universe? Who wouldn't want to see Vin Diesel leaping from one dragon to another in mid-air?!

Episodes 1-9 of House of the Dragon are now streaming on HBO Max. The Season 1 finale premieres on HBO and HBO Max this Sunday — Oct. 23 — at 9 p.m. Eastern. A second season has already been green-lit. Jodie Whittaker's tenure as the Thirteenth Doctor will come to an end before the year is out, opening the door for Ncuti Gatwa to take over the iconic role.

Looking for more fantasy adventure? The entire Harry Potter film saga is streaming now on Peacock.