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Fabien Frankel Cast as Criston Cole

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GRRM has finally gotten his wish to break some news regarding House of the Dragon, revealing that British actor Fabien Frankel has been cast in the role of Criston Cole, a knight who will remembered (and reviled) in later days as the Kingmaker. A classically-trained actor who attended RADA and LAMBDA, he is a relative newcomer with his first credits in 2019 (the Emilia Clarke romcom Last Christmas, no less!) Most recently he has appeared in The Serpent, a BBC-Netflix co-production.



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I wrote up a brief profile:

Fabien Frankel is the son of Anglo-Jewish actor Mark Frankel, and French advertising account executive Caroline Besson. Fabien's paternal grandmother was from an Indian-Jewish family in Mumbai, India. Mark Frankel was a prominent leading man in his brief career, but tragedy struck when he was killed in a car accident in 1996 at the age of 34, when Fabien was only two years old. Fabien has one sibling, brother Max, born after their father's death. Their family has a long history in the performing arts: Mark Frankel's grandmother was a concert pianist, and Mark's grandfather was a prominent violinist and conductor.

Fabien attended RADA [Foundation 2013-2014] (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and is a 2017 graduate of LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) with a BA (Hons) Professional Acting course (2014-2017). According to IMDB, some of his skills include: Languages English, French bi-lingual Advanced, level 3 Single Sword Stage Combat (Examiner's Gold Star award).

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Interesting that his father's mother was from a Jewish family living in Mumbai, India.

The casting sheet leaks weeks ago said they were looking for a "Mediterranean" looking actor, as if to imply that being from the Dornish Marches, there's some Dornish blood in him, by way of shifting borders (entirely possible). I wonder if they'll make a stray mention in the show "his grandmother was Dornish" or something.

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From his looks he is ideal for the role.

The point of Cole in the book is that he is a very attractive, charming fellow, popular with the women.

And if he is good at sword-fighting we might even get some good scenes in that department ... not that Cole has much chance to shine outside of the tourney ground.

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21 hours ago, The Dragon Demands said:

Interesting that his father's mother was from a Jewish family living in Mumbai, India.

The casting sheet leaks weeks ago said they were looking for a "Mediterranean" looking actor, as if to imply that being from the Dornish Marches, there's some Dornish blood in him, by way of shifting borders (entirely possible). I wonder if they'll make a stray mention in the show "his grandmother was Dornish" or something.

There were historically three Jewish communities in Mumbai, including Jews who came from Baghdad around the 18th century. There were quite a few Jews in Bollywood during the 20s-40s.

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Posted (edited)

He has dark eyes, though, and Ser Criston had green. But, considering that the rest of the stuff matches to a degree, I think he's fine. 

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

And if he is good at sword-fighting we might even get some good scenes in that department ... not that Cole has much chance to shine outside of the tourney ground.

His favorite weapon is the morningstar, so we might see more morningstars than longswords. And we actually have plenty of opportunities if we start at the beginning of Viserys I's reign. Tourney and melee at Maidenpool, the tourney in 111 AC, the tourney when Cole kills Joffrey Lonmouth.....

Edited by Jaenara Belarys

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On 4/15/2021 at 6:08 PM, Lord Varys said:

From his looks he is ideal for the role.

The point of Cole in the book is that he is a very attractive, charming fellow, popular with the women.

And if he is good at sword-fighting we might even get some good scenes in that department ... not that Cole has much chance to shine outside of the tourney ground.

We barely saw Jaime fight once on the tv show before he lost his hand

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1 hour ago, The Dragon Demands said:

We barely saw Jaime fight once on the tv show before he lost his hand

Yes, of course, I just thought I should mention that while it is good he can do his swordfighting it doesn't seem to be the *that* necessary, considering what Criston Cole actually does in the story. At least in the book.

I'm sure they will show the tourney stuff and perhaps even invent some further action for him. The most crucial pre-war fighting scene for him would be Rhaenyra's wedding tourney, of course, assuming they are going to include that in the show.

By the way, George's description of Criston Cole in context of this casting seems to resonate very well with my interpretation of him as a Littlefinger-like character. Cole has very humble roots - George calls him common-born - and it is indeed simply his talent (and one assumes his charisma and his political acumen) which allows him to rise as he did.

And, like with Littlefinger, his crucial motivation to really enter the political sphere and write himself into the history of Westeros in bloody letter is his entanglement with a woman of the highest birth.

He can be a very interesting character if they write him right. The writers could take Littlefinger's story with the Tully girls as a basis for his internal motivation after his fallout with Rhaenyra.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Yes, of course, I just thought I should mention that while it is good he can do his swordfighting it doesn't seem to be the *that* necessary, considering what Criston Cole actually does in the story. At least in the book.

I'm sure they will show the tourney stuff and perhaps even invent some further action for him. The most crucial pre-war fighting scene for him would be Rhaenyra's wedding tourney, of course, assuming they are going to include that in the show.

By the way, George's description of Criston Cole in context of this casting seems to resonate very well with my interpretation of him as a Littlefinger-like character. Cole has very humble roots - George calls him common-born - and it is indeed simply his talent (and one assumes his charisma and his political acumen) which allows him to rise as he did.

And, like with Littlefinger, his crucial motivation to really enter the political sphere and write himself into the history of Westeros in bloody letter is his entanglement with a woman of the highest birth.

He can be a very interesting character if they write him right. The writers could take Littlefinger's story with the Tully girls as a basis for his internal motivation after his fallout with Rhaenyra.

That's projection Kimdissi - where person who sees himself as manipulator sees them where there aren't. 

Ser Cole  isn't a player of the Game but a piece with mind of his own, and if anything he seems loyal to the Greens after split with Rhaenyra happens, unlike self-serving Littlefinger whose reflection might be more in Larys Strong, his undoing was ultimately division with Aemond  and being left without dragon support on retreat.

His shining moment during the Dance was taking the reigns after the Black initial victories, blood & cheese and many houses rallying for them - swaying the war in favor of Greens temporarily. 

He should be credited at least for taking Crownland houses, devising the Rook's Rest Trap.

Quote

 

The Red Queen, she was called, for the scarlet scales that covered her. The membranes of her wings were pink, her crest, horns, and claws bright as copper. And on her back, in steel and copper armor that flashed in the sun, rode Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was.

Ser Criston Cole was not dismayed. Aegon’s Hand had expected this, counted on it. Drums beat out a command, and archers rushed forward, longbowmen and crossbowmen both, filling the air with arrows and quarrels. Scorpions were cranked upward to loose iron bolts of the sort that had once felled Meraxes in Dorne. Meleys suffered a score of hits, but the arrows only served to make her angry. She swept down, spitting fire to right and left. Knights burned in their saddles as the hair and hide and harness of their horses went up in flames. Men-at-arms dropped their spears and scattered. Some tried to hide behind their shields, but neither oak nor iron could withstand dragon’s breath. Ser Criston sat on his white horse shouting, “Aim for the rider,” through the smoke and flame. Meleys roared, smoke swirling from her nostrils, a stallion kicking in her jaws as tongues of fire engulfed him.

 

He should have few fight scenes besides tourney - Duskendale or vanguard skirmish before taking Harrenhal, and training Aemond One Eye - their relationship has so much potential, especially reason for their separation in Riverlands.

Edited by Eltharion21

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2 hours ago, Eltharion21 said:

That's projection Kimdissi - where person who sees himself as manipulator sees them where there aren't. 

Ser Cole  isn't a player of the Game but a piece with mind of his own, and if anything he seems loyal to the Greens after split with Rhaenyra happens, unlike self-serving Littlefinger whose reflection might be more in Larys Strong, his undoing was ultimately division with Aemond  and being left without dragon support on retreat.

Anyone who becomes Hand of the King is a player of the game.

But the resemblance with Littlefinger is not so much that Cole is the same kind of manipulator - that I never said. Of course he isn't, very few people are as smart and talented as Littlefinger, and Cole definitely isn't.

The resemblance is that they are both clearly ambitious and used their talents (looks and charisma and feat of arms in Cole's case, looks and charisman and skills in the financial department in Littlefinger's case) to worm their ways into the hearts and minds of the powerful.

Rhaenyra and Alicent in Cole's case, Lysa Tully in the case of Littlefinger (and to a lesser degree Catelyn and even Cersei).

And the most obvious parallel is that - like with Littlefinger and Catelyn - Cole's ultimate motivation as a player of the game goes back to how his relationship with a highborn woman ended.

The Kingmaker was made by his relationship with Rhaenyra and its end ... just as the Littlefinger we know was made by the end of his relationship with Catelyn and the duel he fought with Brandon. Those are the formative events in the lives of those two men.

2 hours ago, Eltharion21 said:

His shining moment during the Dance was taking the reigns after the Black initial victories, blood & cheese and many houses rallying for them - swaying the war in favor of Greens temporarily. 

He should be credited at least for taking Crownland houses, devising the Rook's Rest Trap.

But he never shines as the guy he supposedly is - or perhaps by the time of the Dance no longer is, due to his age - one of the finest swordsmen in the Seven Kingdoms. That he does stuff nobody ever doubted.

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Posted (edited)

I don't know what's a good spot for this, but IMDB just updated that Simon Brindle, the Costume Armor Supervisor on Game of Thrones, will return to work on House of the Dragon.  @Ran

Here is a featurette he did back in the day about his job:

 

Edited by The Dragon Demands

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Posted (edited)
On 4/17/2021 at 4:35 PM, Lord Varys said:

Anyone who becomes Hand of the King is a player of the game.

But the resemblance with Littlefinger is not so much that Cole is the same kind of manipulator - that I never said. Of course he isn't, very few people are as smart and talented as Littlefinger, and Cole definitely isn't.

The resemblance is that they are both clearly ambitious and used their talents (looks and charisma and feat of arms in Cole's case, looks and charisman and skills in the financial department in Littlefinger's case) to worm their ways into the hearts and minds of the powerful.

Rhaenyra and Alicent in Cole's case, Lysa Tully in the case of Littlefinger (and to a lesser degree Catelyn and even Cersei).

And the most obvious parallel is that - like with Littlefinger and Catelyn - Cole's ultimate motivation as a player of the game goes back to how his relationship with a highborn woman ended.

The Kingmaker was made by his relationship with Rhaenyra and its end ... just as the Littlefinger we know was made by the end of his relationship with Catelyn and the duel he fought with Brandon. Those are the formative events in the lives of those two men.

Tell that to Eddard Stark.

I agree, it is rare to find class of manipulator like Littlefinger , even spiders tremble at the sight of mockingbirds.

On the matter of charisma and appearance I sort of disagree. Littlefinger used Lysa's infatuation that started in her childhood, even Sansa notes while he is laughing his eyes are not - trait of a sociopath which lot of people find very unattractive - at least sane ones. His other skill is making himself looking harmless to Lords  while being beneficial in making money and being mediator between different sides - all the time exploiting them for his gain.  His appearance ain't much - sharp features, short man of slender built, though he has great fashion sense I concede.

If Cole's achievement was in making a  7 year girl romanticize about him while he was 14 or more years her senior, I daresay that is pathetic accomplishment if he had to "worm" his way to princesses good graces . We already see how Daemon was "worming" his way - with gifts, flattery and mocking people around Alicent to his 13 year old niece.  Do we really need two sleazy guys each trying to bed underage princess in narrative, even one is too much?

After George's citation to me it seems he is meant to be blueprint of a complex character, not simple rendition of Mushroom, Eustace's or any other source about him.

Quote

 He has no claim to lands or titles, all he has is his honor and his skill with sword and lance.

He was motivated to split with Rhaenyra for whatever reason - maybe for reason of honor rather than simply being jilted or something in between, or it could had been for a love story - if not for Alicent/Larys/Daemon manipulation.  

Problem is you, or anyone else  doesn't know for certain how their  "relationship" ended and it would be ultimately choice of showrunners, unless they were given directions by George.

It was hardly Cole's decision to warm up to Alicent, rather she was his only option - she did slander him with "who watches the watchmen" quote, yet instantly decided to put him in care of her children later. Alicent likely wanted to recruit Cole to her cause so she  could use it against Rhaenyra , and it was her that saved him from Viserys when he killed Lonmouth and mauled other contestants in celebratory tourney. 

On 4/17/2021 at 4:35 PM, Lord Varys said:

But he never shines as the guy he supposedly is - or perhaps by the time of the Dance no longer is, due to his age - one of the finest swordsmen in the Seven Kingdoms. That he does stuff nobody ever doubted.

Nor does Jaime in his own opinion. 

Quote

 

Ser Jaime of House Lannister. Firstborn son of Lord Tywin and Lady Joanna of Casterly Rock. Served against the Kingswood Brotherhood as squire to Lord Summer Crakehall. Knighted in his 15th year by Ser Arthur Dayne of the Kingsguard, for valor in the field. Chosen for the Kingsguard in his 15th year by King Aerys II Targaryen. During the Sack of King’s Landing, slew King Aerys II at the foot of the Iron Throne. Thereafter known as the “Kingslayer.” Pardoned for his crime by King Robert I Baratheon. Served in the honor guard that brought his sister the Lady Cersei Lannister to King’s Landing to wed King Robert. Champion in the tourney held at King’s Landing on the occasion of their wedding.

Summed up like that, his life seemed a rather scant and mingy thing. Ser Barristan could have recorded a few of his other tourney victories, at least. And Ser Gerold might have written a few more words about the deeds he’d performed when Ser Arthur Dayne broke the Kingswood Brotherhood. He had saved Lord Sumner’s life as Big Belly Ben was about to smash his head in, though the outlaw had escaped him. And he’d held his own against the Smiling Knight, though it was Ser Arthur who slew him. What a fight that was, and what a foe. 

...

Defeated in the Whispering Wood by the Young Wolf Robb Stark during the War of the Five Kings. Held captive at Riverrun and ransomed for a promise unfulfilled. Captured again by the Brave Companions, and maimed at the word of Vargo Hoat their captain, losing his sword hand to the blade of Zollo the Fat. Returned safely to King's Landing by Brienne, the Maid of Tarth.
When he was done, more than three-quarters of his page still remained to be filled between the gold lion on the crimson shield on top and the blank white shield at the bottom. Ser Gerold Hightower had begun his history, and Ser Barristan Selmy had continued it, but the rest Jaime Lannister would need to write for himself. He could write whatever he chose, henceforth.

Whatever he chose . . .

 

 

Edited by Eltharion21

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55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

Tell that to Eddard Stark.

Ned played very badly, but he played. He even played back when he helped to make Robert king.

55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

On the matter of charisma and appearance I sort of disagree. Littlefinger used Lysa's infatuation that started in her childhood, even Sansa notes while he is laughing his eyes are not - trait of a sociopath which lot of people find very unattractive - at least sane ones. His other skill is making himself looking harmless to Lords  while being beneficial in making money and being mediator between different sides - all the time exploiting them for his gain.  His appearance ain't much - sharp features, short man of slender built, though he has great fashion sense I concede.

But he has charisma. He is well-liked by everybody, even in AFfC. Even the folks who are wary of him like Tyrion and Yohn Royce don't seem to hate or fear or loathe him. He is a nice guy.

I didn't say he was physically impressive - he is a glib-tongued, charismatic courtier. And he is attractive in his own way - the manliness he represents isn't the manly knight/warrior type, but that of the smart geek, say. He is popular enough with the women ... not to the degree of Jaime or Loras, of course, but still up to a point.

Sansa's description of Littlefinger is something she notices as one who is in his inner circle ... and it is, to a point, colored and shaped by what she already knows about him. She saw him murder his own wife, she knows what he did to arrange Joffrey's murder, etc. Ned and Tyrion also notice some things about Littlefinger, but they have no idea what kind of person he actually is ... and pretty much nobody else does.

55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

If Cole's achievement was in making a  7 year girl romanticize about him while he was 14 or more years her senior, I daresay that is pathetic accomplishment if he had to "worm" his way to princesses good graces . We already see how Daemon was "worming" his way - with gifts, flattery and mocking people around Alicent to his 13 year old niece.  Do we really need two sleazy guys each trying to bed underage princess in narrative, even one is too much?

Cole wormed his way into court life, into the king's trust, etc. Very much like Littlefinger did. He would have used different means, of course. And once Cole was there he played. We know he wasn't just popular with Rhaenyra, he was a favorite of all the women at court, not just the princess.

And the whole underage thing seems to be dropped by the show entirely. They seem to have aged up Rhaenyra, meaning the entire plot of the dashing knight hitting on a preteen girl is dropped ... as well as the plot of the randy uncle hitting on his teenage niece.

55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

After George's citation to me it seems he is meant to be blueprint of a complex character, not simple rendition of Mushroom, Eustace's or any other source about him.

Of course he is a complex character. Littlefinger is also a complex character. The fact that he is a psychopath doesn't lessen the complexity of his emotions/motivations around the Tully girls, their descendants, and his childhood at Riverrun.

55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

He was motivated to split with Rhaenyra for whatever reason - maybe for reason of honor rather than simply being jilted or something in between, or it could had been for a love story - if not for Alicent/Larys/Daemon manipulation.

That is not very likely - neither for the show, because it would be a boring plot on screen, nor for the historical book scenario considering this guy just couldn't let this thing go and had to betray his king, Viserys I, over whatever beef he had with his chosen heir.

The only honor a Kingsguard has is obedience to his king ... and Criston Cole betrayed him.

George's characterization of Cole is also about his roots. He doesn't even mention that he will become a Kingsguard. In the beginning he just has his looks, his skills, and his honor ... and that's how he will be introduced in the show. But once he has his white cloak he has more, and even more when he has the favor of the Heir Apparent, and more still when the king makes him Lord Commander. Then he sits on the Small Council and has a voice in the government of the Realm. Criston Cole is one of the most powerful people in Westeros long before he becomes Hand of the King.

55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

Problem is you, or anyone else  doesn't know for certain how their  "relationship" ended and it would be ultimately choice of showrunners, unless they were given directions by George.

George doesn't run the show, so, yes, it will be the decision of the show runners. And they will go with an interesting and complex setting.

55 minutes ago, Eltharion21 said:

It was hardly Cole's decision to warm up to Alicent, rather she was his only option - she did slander him with "who watches the watchmen" quote, yet instantly decided to put him in care of her children later. Alicent likely wanted to recruit Cole to her cause so she  could use it against Rhaenyra , and it was her that saved him from Viserys when he killed Lonmouth and mauled other contestants in celebratory tourney.

What kind of apologetic argumentation is that? Cole wasn't forced to side with Alicent or partake in her or her father's schemes to create a civil war.

And to be sure ... we don't even know who drove who in all that. Criston Cole is the Kingmaker and loathed for that ... not Otto Hightower who appears to be the real kingmaker, nor Queen Alicent, who seems to be the person the most responsible for the Dance (since she is the one who got Otto back to court, etc.).

If the show wants this title to have some meaning - and more to reflect George's original inspiration for that moniker, the Earl of Warwick during the Wars of the Roses - then Criston Cole won't just be 'the Kingmaker' because he literally put the crown on Aegon's head. Rather he will be the Kingmaker because he will be one of the main architects of the Green coup. And in that capacity he could even persuade and push Alicent and Otto to go through with things. He could be the driving force of the entire Dance.

That would make him an interesting character, worthy of featuring in this show. If he was just a stuffy background character they could just as well drop him. It is not that he actually does much in the story ... or anything that couldn't be given to another character.

And there are hints that Cole is actually pretty smart and nasty ... both with the Cargyll infiltration of Dragonstone (which is using the Kingsguard against each other, a very vile thing to do, worthy of Littlefinger if you ask me) as well as him coldly risking the lives of his king and prince just to kill enemy dragon(rider)s.

For Cole, victory doesn't really mean Aegon's or Aemond's victory. They could die. It would be enough for him, I guess, if Rhaenyra and her kin are dead. Peace and prosperity of the Realm, etc. don't matter to him at all.

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Posted (edited)

@Ran

Turns out my suspicions were correct, HBO updated their landing page with brief House of the Dragon character profiles to include one for Criston Cole, which reads:
 

Quote

https://www.hbo.com/house-of-the-dragon 

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole. Of Dornish descent, Ser Criston is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword.

 

Edited by The Dragon Demands

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3 hours ago, The Dragon Demands said:

@Ran

Turns out my suspicions were correct, HBO updated their landing page with brief House of the Dragon character profiles to include one for Criston Cole, which reads:
 

 

Thats funny because it has the same description of the Variety article I posted last Thursday. 

 

https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/game-of-thrones-prequel-series-house-of-the-dragon-cast-fabien-frankel-hbo-1234952650/

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