In the third episode of House of the Dragon season 1, a very familiar name popped up as Jefferson Hall made his prequel series debut as not one but two Lannisters, twin brothers Jason, Lord of Casterly Rock, and Ser Tyland.
“It was a real treat when it came up and there’s obviously a lot of pressure because they were much-loved and much-hated characters and very popular characters,” Hall tells ET about bringing the family back to life 200 years in the past in HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novel, Fire & Blood.
The actor, who briefly appeared in Game of Thrones season 1 as the newly anointed knight Ser Hugh of the Vale, takes on the far more substantial roles as the two siblings, who will play increasingly larger parts in the overall battle for the Iron Throne as the series continues to unfold.
For now, crafty and calculating Tyland (who dons shorter hair) was introduced as one of the men of King Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) council, while the far more boisterous and prideful Jason (appearing with longer locks) made his intentions known to Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock).
While speaking to ET, Hall opened up about playing the two Lannisters, how much he drew from the family’s portrayals on Game of Thrones and what fans can look forward to. [: Spoilers for House of the Dragon, season 1, episode three.]
Although “it’s been a thrill” to join the series as a member of the Lannister family, Hall admits the most difficult thing about the dual roles was acknowledging the lineage while not directly playing into Lena Headey (Cersei) or the other original stars’ performances.
“I’ve heard Miguel [Sapochnik] talk about the show and what the fans want and giving the fans what they want, but also giving them something new and the dichotomy of doing that,” the actor says, referring to co-creator and co-showrunner of season 1.
And so, in creating Jason and Tyland, Hall says there are “tiny little drops of Tyrion or tiny little drops of Cersei” built into these two roles. “I put it in there as a sort of teaser,” he explains. “But fundamentally, realistically, they’re so far removed. And this is really about the genesis of this house, before it came to the power they were in on Game of Thrones.”
And at the end of the day, “I have no idea what my great, great, great, great grandfather behaved like,” the actor quips.
When it comes to playing the twins, the biggest difference between Jason and Tyland is their age, with the latter being the youngest and therefore getting nothing. Whereas, “Jason gets everything,” Hall says. “He’s incredibly entitled, he’s never really had to work hard for anything in his life and there’s an idea that everything will come to him.”
As a result, Jason makes a not-so-subtle proposal to Rhaenyra, suggesting she could live out her life at Casterly Rock as something of a trophy wife, while hoping to gain control of her dragon as a result of their marriage. “He has a full expectation that because they’re a strong, powerful, and wealthy household that this young woman will immediately drop to her knees to this very charming a**hole,” Hall says, while complimenting Alcock’s performance in that scene.
“It felt a bit creepy sort of hitting on her, but she dealt with it quite well. I think [she had] a little throw up in the mouth occasionally in some of those scenes, but she was amazing,” he adds.
While Rhaenyra (and her dragon) would certainly be a prized possession, Hall doesn’t think Jason has a real interest in the Iron Throne, something so fiercely coveted by the family hundreds of years later.
“It might be a bit of a drag to him. He’s not aspirational, particularly for power,” the actor suggests. “I don’t think he’s ever had to think that much [about it] whereas Tyland has had to think from day one about how to make it in the world.”
Hall continues by adding, “What I love about the difference of the characters is that Tyland has made the decision to go out on his own, although there is some nepotism and he’s got a place in court where others might not, but he’s really had to strike out and go to a place he doesn’t know that well and start a job he doesn’t know that well.”
And with Tyland’s move to King’s Landing, there’s a wakeup call that happens and something in him that turns on while Jason is left mulling things over as he waits for what expects to come to him. “Jason doesn’t give too much of a f**k about what people think, to a point,” Hall says, while noting that Tyland is much more complex and always trying to balance what he wants with what he needs.
That said, Viserys quips that Jason’s “pride has pride,” and it’s clear there’s a distaste for the older twin even if he doesn’t pose any direct or immediate threat to the throne or Targeryn’s line of succession.
Moving forward, things will certainly change. When audiences meet Jason and Tyland, “they’re nowhere near where they end up. So, it’s really the beginning,” says Hall, who teases there’s a big time jump that comes later in the season, “which was challenging because once you’re getting to know the characters, you then [have to] bridge what happens in those 10 years in between.”
As a result, both twins “do change, even within the first season,” the actor adds, noting that “fundamentally they’re going to change massively as the show goes on.”
With that in mind, Hall hopes that fans are initially disappointed by what they get of House Lannister, and the twins in particular, early on. “This is a story about the Targaryens. And the Lannisters do play a strong role in it, but not from the offset,” he says, warning fans “to be patient as far as that’s concerned. Because they are introduced to the story… and they are supporting that story. That’s not to say they don’t have a very strong, pivotal role within it as time goes on, but to begin with, for sure, it’s gonna be a waiting game.”
House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.