It was revealed Wednesday, days ahead of the third episode drop for HBO's House of the Dragon, that Miguel Sapochnik would be drastically scaling back his duties on the Game of Thrones prequel. The franchise veteran, who directed some of the standout episodes of the original series, would be stepping down as co-showrunner and director and just be involved as an executive producer moving forward.
"We have this English phrase 'gutted,'" Toussaint tells EW on the West of Westeros podcast. "I was like, 'Oh no!' Ryan rang me, because I've been shooting something in Belgium. And so, I got a call from Ryan one night, just saying, 'Listen, this is about to break. I want you to know what's happening and everything's going to be fine,' and so forth. And it's Miguel's decision. So I was disappointed."
Condal, who co-created House of the Dragon with Thrones architect George R.R. Martin, will now be the sole showrunner in season 2. Alan Taylor, another standout directing name from the first series, will be stepping in to executive produce and direct episodes moving forward.
Toussaint understands the reason for Sapochnik's leave, which was due to fatigue he felt working on the Thrones franchise for so many years, EW has learned.
"When we were doing the premiere in London, I was having a chat with Alex, his wife... This is before, obviously, we knew. It was full-on with him, because he was constant," the actor behind Lord Corlys Velaryon on House of the Dragon recalls. "Of course, he had to direct and do his own bits, obviously his own episodes. And then, of course, he has to overlook the whole thing, make sure the look is still in line with the whole story. I think they're still right now cutting the last couple of episodes, so it's a huge amount."
"While personally I'm disappointed, because I think he has a great artistic vision, I understand, for the good of his health, he's got to take a long break and recharge himself and decide what else he wants to do next to that," Toussaint adds. "I think the world's his oyster, because he's so incredibly talented."
Ollie Upton/HBO Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon on 'House of the Dragon'
Sapochnik, who has a first-look deal with HBO to develop other projects, had released a statement last week when news broke about the changing of the guard.
"Working within the GOT universe for the past few years has been an honor and a privilege, especially spending the last two with the amazing cast and crew of House of the Dragon," he said. "I am so proud of what we accomplished with season 1 and overjoyed by the enthusiastic reaction of our viewers. It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally. As I do so, though, I am deeply comforted to know that Alan will be joining the series. He's someone I've known and respected for a long time, and I believe this precious series could not be in safer hands. I am so glad to remain a part of the HBO and House of the Dragon family and, of course, I wish Ryan and his team success and all the best with season 2 and beyond."
House of the Dragon airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max every Sunday.
Listen and subscribe to EW's West of Westeros podcast to hear more from our interview with Toussaint.
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