Steve Toussaint has revealed he received racist abuse online after he was cast as Corlys Velaryon in upcoming Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon.
The 57-year-old British actor, who is of Barbadian descent, has previously starred in Doctor Who, Line Of Duty and Death In Paradise.
Speaking to the Radio Times about his lead role in the highly anticipated HBO series, Toussaint said: “When they announced (my casting), one of the first things I saw on social media was a drawing of the character (from the books) next to a picture of me.
“And then there was the racist abuse that came with that.”
In the books by George RR Martin on which the series is based, the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes. However, in the new series the clan are reimagined as black nobles with long silver dreadlocks.
Reflecting on the backlash from fans of the series of books, Toussaint continued: “I kind of thought, ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that.
“But as this guy is the richest (character) in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.
“In House Of The Dragon (our colour) is just a given – I quite like that.”
Despite the risk that acknowledging the backlash could give it greater prominence, Toussaint said he thought it was important to address it.
“I don’t want this to be my story,” he said.
“But I’m not going to deny that it happened. Because it does. It’s out there. And it should never be something that puts someone off from doing something they want to do.”
The actor also revealed he has wanted to be a part of the fantasy franchise for some time. After being unsuccessful in auditioning for series five of Game Of Thrones, he later hoped to land a role in The Long Night – another prequal series which was later canned.
After being offered the role of Corlys, a nautical adventurer known as The Sea Snake, Toussaint felt the previously failed attempts were meant to be.
He said: “When (House Of The Dragon) came up it felt as if I’d missed those others so I could be in it.”
House Of The Dragon will be available on Sky Atlantic and streaming service Now from August 22.
The full interview with Steve Toussaint is available in Radio Times.