House of the Dragon’s Steve Toussaint Breaks Down the Corlys’ Final Return, Reveals What We Almost Saw in Ep 8

This post contains spoilers from House of the Dragon‘s Season 1 finale. Proceed accordingly.

The Sea Snake slithers again!

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After being injured and absent from the screen for the past two episodes, Lord Corlys “The Sea Snake” Velaryon made a miraculous recovery in House of the Dragon‘s Season 1 finale — just in time to pledge his house’s considerable naval fleet to Rhaenyra’s side. (Read a full recap, hear what Emma D’Arcy had to say about that major death, and then find out what the showrunners do — and don’t — have in mind for Season 2.)

TVLine chatted with Steve Toussaint, who plays the recovering Lord of the Tides, on Monday morning. Read on to hear his take on what Corlys’ near-death encounter might mean for his relationship with Rhaenys, his musings about Corlys’ lingering resentment for Daemon and his thoughts on an Episode 8 scene that didn’t make it off the script’s pages.

TVLINE | First of all, so nice to see you in last night’s episode.
[Laughs] I was getting a lot of calls from friends and on social media saying, “What’s going on?” Where are you? Are you dead? What’s happening? Tell me!” I had to just keep my lips sealed for the whole time. But it’s all good now.

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house-of-the-dragon-finale-season-1-episode-10-corlyssteve-toussaint-interview

TVLINE

| Why didn’t we get any cutaways to Corlys, sweating and feverish, in a bed somewhere?
[Laughs] I don’t know. That’s really a question for [showrunners] Ryan [Condal] and Miguel [Sapochnik]. Originally, there were plans to keep the actual, when he gets injured. I had this conversation with Geeta [Vasant Patel], the director of Episode 8. She explained this wonderful scenario where Corlys falls into the sea, into the water. Underwater, we see his throat gashed and he’s bleeding, and then he’s saved by his men. It was really a beautiful piece… They couldn’t do it in the end. So, we had what we had.

TVLINE | When people have a terrible injury or illness and then recover, sometimes they have a moment where they’re like, “Things are going to be different! My life is going to be great now!”
Absolutely!

TVLINE | And we see him tell Rhaenys, “Let’s not declare for anyone. Let’s go away and live out our lives,” and she has to be like, “Um, that’s not how life is here.” Do you think this sense that he has, that things have changed fundamentally, will stick for him?
No, I don’t think it does. I think, at the very moment he says it, he believes it. He believes I made these moves, they didn’t work out. Now look: Both of our kids [are dead], let’s just — we’re fine. He believes that, but fundamentally I don’t think that’s who he is. It’s probably a question better asked to Eve Best, but I don’t think [Rhaenys] believes it of him, either. I have to confess to you, I haven’t seen much of this series. I haven’t seen that episode yet. I’m going to binge say later on. But there’s a moment when she says something like, “No, no, wait. No. We can’t just… we’re too far in this. We have to follow this through and be part of this.” There’s a slight moment in him that thinks, “Ah, OK! Cool!” [Laughs] When he wakes up, he’s saying what he thinks she wants to hear, as opposed to how he really feels. And she surprises him.

TVLINE | Obviously, we’re nowhere near Season 2, and a lot of conversations about what’s ahead are yet to happen. But Corlys was gone for quite some time, which meant that Rhaenys was on her own when some traumatic stuff went down. How do you think that might affect their relationship, moving forward?
Like most couples, when one of them has done wrong or been insensitive — I can only speak as a man, when you’ve been insensitive to your partner or something — but for a period of time you are great attentive. Do you know what I mean? I think that’s what’s going to happen to them.

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house-of-the-dragon-finale-season-1-episode-8-corlys-steve-toussaint

The thing about the Corlys is that obviously it’s one of the few relationships where they actually love each other and respect each other. Her counsel has always been good, but he sometimes takes a little while to get around to realizing that. That scene when he wakes up is a good example… I haven’t had those discussions yet with Ryan and the team. Perhaps that may be something he pays more attention to. But then also, there is something about Rhaenys that those last three or four episodes have shown: There is a wildness under her that is unleashed. And it may be that for the first part of this first season, she is the restraining power within the couple. “We don’t do that, Corlys. We’re fine. We’re happy.” The tables may turn and she may be the one that’s much more gung-ho and much more racing ahead to do stuff. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I think Eve would love that, actually.

TVLINE | I would love to see that, too. I enjoyed seeing how Rhaenys recognized something admirable in Rhaenyra in the finale; it was in contrast to how it felt like Corlys and Rhaenys had approached the princess and King Viserys earlier in the season, which was, “I’m going to ally with you because it’s politically expedient, but I don’t really believe in how you’re doing things.”
I think you’re right. At the very beginning, Corlys is all about, “This guy shouldn’t be the king, anyway. He’s a nice man, terrible king, and the person ruling should be my wife.” People always say to me, “He’s very modern.” And I suppose he is, but also, the fact is if my wife is queen, I’m closer to the throne, too. And so for the next couple of episodes… he’s then trying, any way he can, to get his family connected to the throne. “Marry my daughter! You want to marry my daughter? I’ll take it! Your daughter can marry my son.” And so on.

This is my perspective. When Viserys says “My heir will be Rhaenyra,” much as Corlys may disagree with it, he is still a stickler for propriety. If the king has named his heir, then that’s who it is. It doesn’t matter how you feel. There’s a scene early on in the season which brings up the succession… After the queen has died. [They say] “If anything happens to you, we’ll be without a king.” And they’re concerned about Daemon taking the throne. I think Corlys is the one who says, “No, we have an heir. It’s Daemon.” Because that’s the way the rules are. So later on, when Viserys says, “It’s my daughter,” I believe that Corlys is like, “OK, that’s what has been said. That’s the law of the land, and we are honor-bound to support that.” I think that’s what leads to his decision — along with his wife, obviously — in the final episode to say, “OK, we’ll ally with them.”

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house-of-the-dragon-finale-season-1-episode-10-corlyssteve-toussaint-interview

TVLINE

| There was that whole episode during which everyone met at King’s Landing to decide who would replace Corlys, and I just kept picturing him being like, “I’m not dead yet!” How might he have reacted to everyone’s assumption that he was out of the picture at that point?
[Laughs] On the one hand, he would’ve been like, “OK, that makes sense, trying to get ahead of things.” But I also think he would have been disappointed in his brother, actually. Because the two people who have a voice in that succession argument, and the people who love him, are his brother and his wife. His wife is still supporting him, saying, “Well, no, he’s not dead yet.” Whereas I recall his brother’s going, “But it’s not going to fall into the hands of those kids.” [Corlys] would’ve been disappointed… He loves his brother, to an extent, but he’s aware of his brother’s faults. I think if they’d sent a raven to him and said, “Your brother’s looking to sit in your seat before you’ve even gone cold,” I’d think he’d have been very disappointed.

TVLINE | Regarding Vaemond: Daemon killed Corlys’ brother. Corlys and Daemon now have to work together underneath Queen Rhaenyra. Do you foresee any workplace friction there?
[Laughs] I think there may well be. [Laughs]

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