By Katie M. Lucas/HBO
The actor behind Daario Naharis breaks down the ambush at Daznak, his character’s relationship with Dany, and why she should heed his advice.
HBO: Daario gives Dany lots of advice this season. What empowers him to speak so frankly?
Michiel Huisman: I think he really cares for her and he wants what’s best for her. I’m not necessarily saying that he would be the best possible advisor, but he speaks honestly. He sees there are not a lot of people around her at the moment capable of telling her the truth, so he figures that she needs it.
HBO: Why suggest that she burn all the masters?
Michiel Huisman: Being the warrior that he is, he has this fatalistic sensibility. He’s also trying to bring a sense of reality. Daario sees Daenerys as very talented ruler, but she’s up in her penthouse; Daario’s trying to tell her what’s happening on the street. The only language the people of Meereen speak is that of a strong message from a strong hand. It’s a horrible suggestion, but my god, if only she’d done what he suggested, [“The Dance of Dragons”] would have been such a different episode.
HBO: This season, we learned Daario was an experienced pit fighter. Is that how you pictured his backstory?
Michiel Huisman: I had had conversations about it with [series creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] in early stages. So it was not much of a surprise, but I was really happy to share it with the audience. That background informs a lot about who my character is. Every time you get the opportunity to refer to it, that makes the audience understand Daario a little better.
HBO: Daario proposed to Dany. Did he think there was any chance she’d say yes?
Michiel Huisman: No. He knows she’ll never say yes. I think he’s not showing all his cards. He’s playing to see how she responds, and the way she responds is to be expected. I think it shows how smart he is, really, when he says, “If you’re not free to marry me, you’re the only person in this whole city who’s not free.” I love that about him. I love that I get to poke at Dany like that.
HBO: When the ambush takes place at the Great Pit, did Daario ever foresee a rebellion of this size?
Michiel Huisman: I can’t imagine that it crossed Daario’s mind that so many people in the ring and in the stadium could be at risk. He figured the threat would be nothing he wouldn’t be able to handle with a few of his guys.
HBO: Amidst the chaos, does he have a moment to process Hizdahr’s death?
Michiel Huisman: Yes. I haven’t seen the episode yet, but I hope that registers. Daario thinks that Hizdahr’s going to do something to Dany and then he gets stabbed in the back like, 20 times. I hope that moment reads where I’m thinking, “OK… I guess I was wrong about this dude.”
HBO: What was it like shooting the scenes at the Great Pit?
Michiel Huisman: It took two weeks to shoot that sequence of everything falling apart in the ring and Dany leaving on the back of the dragon. The logistics were insane. At some point there was a whole tent of crew that I’d never seen before – they were just the visual effects guys coming over for the dragon. It was an amazing experience to walk on a set like that, in the south of Spain. The scope was unlike anything else.
HBO: Did you perform your own stunts?
Michiel Huisman: Yep. That’s me. I trained for a few days on the choreography. I loved it.
HBO: What’s running through Daario’s head when Dany flies away on Drogon?
Michiel Huisman: He’s flabbergasted. Blown away. It’s almost divine to see her fly away on the dragon. It couldn’t have been better… I’ve been telling her to use those dragons! Finally, she’s listening.