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Breaking Baz: ‘House Of The Dragon’s Emma D’Arcy Explores Masculine Desire And Ambition In Short Film They Star In And Produced

EXCLUSIVEHouse of the Dragon star Emma D’Arcy has produced their first short film with production partner Ellen Spence (The Essex Serpent) at new shingle Second Name Productions.

The 15-minute movie, titled The Talent and barely out of post-production, has already been nominated in the Best British category at the Iris Prize LGBTQ+ Film Festival, sponsored by Film4 and Pinewood Studios. Winners will be revealed next month at the festival in Cardiff, Wales.

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D’Arcy, who plays Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, takes on a character with no royal connections whatsoever in The Talent.

They play Tommy, described as a transmasculine production assistant, assigned as a dogsbody to cater to the caffeine needs of the cast and crew working on a high-end car commercial. “I was really excited to play Tommy,” D’Arcy told this column in a written statement (they declined an interview owing to the SAG-AFTRA strike). ”He’s a beautifully sympathetic character, striving, fumbling, deeply self-conscious, constantly misstepping. And the size of his internal journey is sort of at odds with his environment,” D’Arcy said of the runner, who boasts blue-streaked hair in the film that was shot on a virtual production stage at London’s Garden Studios.

Emma D’Arcy as Tommy on the set of ‘The Talent’
Emma D’Arcy as Tommy on the set of ‘The Talent’

D’Arcy collaborated with writer and director Thomas May Bailey on the project, which completed production last month.

The pair have worked together on several stage productions including a version of Romeo and Juliet at the Southwark Playhouse Theatre in south London where D’Arcy played star-crossed suitor Romeo.

I’ve rewatched The Talent a few times and it’s smart how Bailey has turned a fake car commercial into a metaphor for desire and ambition.

Leo Suter (Vikings: Valhalla, Victoria) plays a big-shot Hollywood star who shoots the cheesy car ad while waiting for production to begin on a  buddy-cop show. Sitting in the vehicle he’s being paid bucketloads of money to promote, he utters the cheesy line, “How do you choose a direction — you know where you want to be, but you don’t know the way there … the only wrong direction is not moving at all.”

Tommy takes this all in and it becomes his mantra for advancement. “What is another working day for everyone else on the film marks a defining psychic event for Tommy,” D’Arcy writes. “I think that’s the basis for a lot of the film’s humor: the sheer size of this young assistant’s feeling comes to eclipse everything around him.”

D’Arcy told us they enjoyed working with Bailey and cinematographer Anna MacDonald on The Talent, which offered a nuanced portrait of life on a set “with its hierarchies and bizarre formalities, all of which you’re somehow supposed to know but no one teaches you.”

Emma D’Arcy
Emma D’Arcy

My first set visit was several decades ago. The first lesson was: stand well behind the camera! Never forgotten that!

Other cast members on The Talent include Rhianne Barreto (Outlaws), David Mills (Florence Foster Jenkins), Karl Queensborough (The Crown), Robert Rapaport and Andrew Bone (Bohemian Rhapsody).

Executive producers are Marco Alessi, Ray Okudzeto and Matt Hitchens.

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