House of the Dragon star Ewan Mitchell on why Aemond Targaryen lives to the same code as Robert De Niro in Heat

Alicent and Aemond in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

Aemond Targaryen is one complicated guy – it's hard to ever know what he's really thinking, especially when it comes to his family. 

That's been particularly obvious in House of the Dragon season 2, with Alicent and Aemond's relationship seeming particularly strained; Alicent even seems afraid of her son. 

According to Aemond actor Ewan Mitchell, the complicated family dynamics stem from a difficult childhood. "It's that idea that Aemond, although he was the second son, he very much felt like he should've been the first. He never really felt that unconditional love from his mother. He was neglected, he was the only child in the family to not receive a dragon egg. And kids, they need that unconditional love to develop a balanced view of themselves," he says. "And Aemond, he had to find that unconditional love in other surrogates: in Vhagar, this older she-dragon. He had to find it in Madame Sylvi." 

This isolation is something Aemond has in common with an iconic movie character. "There's this quote from Michael Mann's Heat, Robert De Niro's character says, 'Don't get attached to someone you're not prepared to walk out on in thirty seconds flat when you feel the heat around the corner.' That's the code that his character lives by to manoeuvre his world without getting caught by the police," Mitchell explains. "And Aemond has a very, very similar code that in part protects him from feeling like that kid that he was and never wants to be seen as that hurt ever again. And that's why he's so easily able to walk out on the Madame in episode 3. He's caught in a vulnerable spot, he's humiliated, and that facade comes into play, that code comes into play, and he walks out on her. 

"But what I think is quite interesting is that idea of, what if Alicent challenges that code? What if it's not as black and white for her?" Mitchell adds. "Because, effectively, Alicent, his mom, was the only person that in episode 7, when the doctor's fixing up Aemond's eye, she was the only voice that was very much backing Aemond. And that's something that he'll never forget." 

House of the Dragon season 2 airs weekly on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW in the UK and HBO in the US. 

For more from our interview with Mitchell, check out the actor on the dramatic episode 4 ending, how Michael Myers inspired his portrayal of Aemond, and the rivalry between Aemond and Daemon. You can also read more on House of the Dragon with our deep dives below: 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.