Fabien Frankel began his time as Ser Criston Cole on “House of the Dragon” as a valiant knight who saves Princess Rhaenyra (then played by Milly Alcock) from a wild boar and dutifully fulfills his role as her sworn protector. However, everything changed after he and Rhaenyra slept together and he confessed the act to Queen Alicent (then played by Emily Carey) and went on to commit a brutal murder. For his part, Frankel is very well aware of how unlikable his character has become. In an Oct. 10 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Frankel revealed that he knows fans’ opinions of Cole have changed. “They’re not into it anymore,” he laughed.
Frankel confessed that he “sort of had an inkling that some people didn’t like me” even before his betrayal aired. “We went to Comic-Con, and I remember all the actors lined up, and I heard a guy go, ‘That guy plays Criston Cole. I hate that dude,'” he said. The actor was presumably referring to San Diego Comic-Con, which ran from July 21 to July 24 — meaning that the incident happened before the episode where his betrayal and character shift occurred. “I was really confused. I was like, ‘Already? It hasn’t even come out yet,'” the actor told Fallon.
In the fifth episode, which aired on Sept. 18, Cole cements his allegiance to Alicent (now played by Olivia Cooke), and his close relationship with Alicent has led to some speculation about whether he and the queen might be more than friends. Regardless, as the Targaryen dynasty veers closer and closer to civil war, it’s clear that Cole has chosen his side.
Behind the scenes, Frankel has been fighting some different battles — including nerves. “I get really nervous every time I step on set,” he said. “The very first day we shot, it was this huge scene. It was all the cast members, like Paddy [Considine], Rhys [Ifans], Matt [Smith], Liv [Cooke] — all really good actors . . . They were going close-ups on everyone, and everyone was doing it super well. Finally, it got round to my bit.” All he had to do, he said, was roll his eyes, but “I went into some kind of facial spasm,” he said, adding that co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik came right up to him in front of everyone and asked him, “What’s up with your face?”
Another early challenge was his suit of armor, which he described as “quite heavy.” For the first two weeks of filming, the suit was so cumbersome that he had to “sit like a zombie and have people sort of feed me like I was very sick.” However, the costume became easier to manage over the course of the filming. While Frankel refused to reveal any details about what will happen in the show’s last two episodes, given the violence that’s about to explode after percolating all season, that suit of armor is guaranteed to come in handy.
Watch the interview below.