House of the Dragon star Steve Toussaint opened up about the racist backlash he faced after getting cast on HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones spinoff.
The Judge Dredd actor, 57, will play the franchise’s first Black lead character, Corys Velaryon, in the prequel series, which premieres on Sunday, August 21. “I didn’t realize it was a bigger deal until I was racially abused on social media when it was announced,” the U.K. native told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published on Monday, August 15. “Yeah, that s–t happened.”
After his casting was announced in February 2021, Toussaint recalled that a social media user shared an artist’s rendering of Corlys and expressed their disappointment that he was chosen for the role. “Then someone else referred to me by the N-word,” the Doctor Who alum added. “There was also a Black American chap who is a big fan of the show who contacted me saying that he gets abuse because he championed me for the part.”
Toussaint was surprised by the racist commentary, but he explained that he tried not to let it affect him. “On platforms like Reddit, which I’m not on, there are such discussions going on about it,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh wow,’ and then I thought, ‘OK, this means a lot to some people, but I can’t allow that to bother me.’”
The Prince of Persia star isn’t the first actor of color to speak out about facing racist abuse from alleged fans of sci-fi and fantasy series. John Boyega, who played Finn in the most recent Star Wars trilogy, has been open about the fact that racist trolls diminished his experience of starring in the films. The Attack the Block star, 30, also believes racism was one reason his character was sidelined as the movies progressed.
“What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience.’ Nah, nah, nah,” the London native told British GQ in September 2020. “I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
“It seems that some of the fan base, from this influential fan base, have decided to attack Moses Ingram online and send her the most horrendous, racist DMs,” the Moulin Rouge! actor, 51, said in a video shared via Twitter in May. “I heard some of them this morning and it just broke my heart. It just sickened me to my stomach to hear that this had been happening. We stand with Moses, we love Moses. And if you’re sending her bullying messages, you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind.”
Before the show premiered, the 28-year-old actress revealed that Lucasfilm execs warned her that she would probably face harassment from racist Star Wars viewers. “It was something that Lucasfilm actually got in front of, and said, ‘This is a thing that, unfortunately, likely will happen. But we are here to help you; you can let us know when it happens,’” Ingram told The Independent in May.
The Queen’s Gambit alum went on to note that she has “no problem” blocking social media users sending her racist messages, adding that she was pleased Obi-Wan Kenobi would “bring the most diversity” to the Star Wars universe.
“To me, it’s long overdue,” she explained. “If you’ve got talking droids and aliens, but no people of color, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s 2022, you know. So, we’re just at the beginning of that change. But I think to start that change is better than never having started it.”
House of the Dragon premieres on HBO Sunday, August 21, at 9 p.m. ET.