Will 'House of the Dragon' Finally Give Targaryens Purple Eyes?

HBO's Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, will focus mainly on the Targaryens, [...]

HBO's Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, will focus mainly on the Targaryens, giving the network a chance to set some things straight. In the books the shows are based on, the Targaryens typically have purple eyes — particularly the ones who can ride dragons — and while Emilia Clarke didn't wear them while playing Daenerys in the original show, fans are hoping that the second series will utilize them. We won't know for sure until we see a teaser for House of the Dragon, but there's reason to hope for some book-accurate purple eyes this time around.

Purple eyes are a defining characteristic of House Targaryen in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin, but they proved too much trouble for the TV show. In the special features of the Game of Thrones Season 1 Blu-ray set, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said that "actors act with their eyes, and [purple contact lenses] really hurt the emotion." The lenses are reportedly difficult for actors to wear and distracting while using CGI to recolor their eyes proved more difficult than it was worth to the showrunners. However, in a series all about the scions of Old Valyria, the standards may be higher.

In discussions about House of the Dragon on social media, many fans have pointed out that Henry Cavill wears yellow contact lenses at all times on The Witcher. Some take this to mean that eye color-changing technology has come a long way since Game of Thrones started, or that Cavill has less of a reaction to the lenses. However, in an interview with Metro, Cavill admitted that they could be detrimental to his health.

"I was only allowed to keep them in for three hours a time," he said. "Drying out isn't the problem, it's that part of your eye, it's the only part of your body that receives oxygen from the air rather than blood. And so if you're covering it up, you're not getting any oxygen to it, and over a long period of time, you will do damage to your eyes. It's just not worth it."

Experts reportedly warned Cavill that he could go blind if he wasn't careful with the contacts. Some fans question why CGI can't be used to re-color the eyes instead, and that is becoming more of a viable option these days. However, it too can impact the gravity of a performance. The Crown director Ben Caron told The Guardian that he tried having Olivia Colman's eyes re-colored for Season 3 of The Crown, but found that "it didn't feel like her. CGI-ing her eyes seemed to diminish what she was doing."

These instances seem to diminish the chances that all or even some of the Targaryens on House of the Dragon will sport their canon purple eyes, but not entirely. As many fans online point out, the show has a massive budget and more resources than the original had when it began. It also has the time to plan around these kinds of choices to make them work with each actor individually.

It's also worth noting that not all the Targaryens have purple eyes even in Martin's books. Some have blue or green eyes, which still match their silver-blonde hair nicely. This might have to suffice since as far as we know none of the actors in the cast so far have ultra-rare natural purple eyes.

The show could always project purple eyes onto characters who get very little screentime — perhaps an elderly Targaryen relative, or a young one with a grim future. Fans who have read Fire and Blood will likely get what I'm hinting at without spoiling the show. House of the Dragon is filming now and is slated to premiere on HBO sometime in 2022. It is based on the latter portion of Martin's Fire and Blood, which is available now in print, digital and audiobook formats here on Amazon.

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