Who is Ser Criston Cole from House of the Dragon and who is the actor playing him?

He's already setting fan and character hearts alight

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of The Dragon
(Image credit: Gary Moyes/HBO/Future)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for House of The Dragon season 1 episode 4, and steamy romantic liaisons!

The latest episode of House of The Dragon saw a new and important character come to prominence, and receive the romantic interests of a certain member of the Targaryen household. Having remained largely in the background until now, Ser Criston came rampaging into the action on his stead, to offer gallantry where quite frankly it wasn't needed. His moves did however, serve to bring this lesser known cog in the wheel to the forefront. With a potentially storyline disrupting role predicted for the remainder of the show, exactly who is Ser Criston Cole everyone is talking about - and who is the actor playing him?

He's not the only new man sparking interest in the show, with many having questions about Laenor Velaryon and how he's a dragonrider. Any follower of House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones know that it is House Targaryen who own and use a number of dragons to exert their power. But this young character seems to have a special connection some aren't aware of.

Who is Ser Criston Cole in House of The Dragon? 

Ser Criston Cole is also known as Criston the Kingmaker, and started as a knight from House Cole before rising to Lord Commander of the Kingsguard for Viserys I Targaryen. 

Ser Criston was born at Blackhaven in the Dornish Marches in 82 AC. When celebrating the ascension of King Viserys I Targaryen to the Iron Throne he won the attention of the then 7-year-old Princess Rhaenyra, while jousting with Daemon Targaryen. After the pair met, King Viserys indulged Rhaenyra’s fondness of Criston by naming him her personal sworn shield. In 105 AC, Criston became a member of the Kingsguard - picked by Rhaenyra when she was named heir to the Iron Throne.  

He gallops to the rescue of Rhaenyra, when she hot footed it away from her baby brother Aegon’s birthday party in a rage at having her claim to the throne weakened. The pair grow close and become romantically involved - but if the show follows the original source material, this will be a short-lived liaison. 

At some point Ser Criston will be named the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and grow close to Allicent. With Criston and Rhaenyra eventually becoming enemies, Criston could be in the process of being set up as the latest villain of the series. 

How old is Ser Criston Cole?

Ser Criston Cole is 33 years old during the current House of The Dragon timeline. According to George R. R. Martin's books, he is 16 years older than Rhaenyra, who Viserys states to be 17-years-old at one point during the episode. However, it is unknown if Ser Criston's age has also been altered on screen.

Looking back to episode 2, Rhaenyra is 15-years-old. Following the episode 3 time jump, she is now 17 and celebrating (or not) her half brother’s second birthday. This is a departure from the books, which put Rhaenyra at only 9-years-old when her father marries Alicent, meaning she would still only be 11 when she meets Ser Criston. Altering her age to 17 for this time period is an obvious alteration to make. 

Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole in House of The Dragon

(Image credit: Sky/HBO)

Who is the actor playing Ser Criston Cole in House of The dragon?  

Fabien Frankel plays Ser Criston Cole in House of The Dragon. Frankel is a British actor born in London, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before gaining a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Frankel began his career on stage, in the 2017 stage production of The Knowledge at Charing Cross Theatre. His first television appearance was in the 2019 romantic comedy film Last Christmas. In the same year, he portrayed Theo Sipowicz in a pilot for the potential ABC spinoff series of NYPD Blue. In 2021, he landed the role of Dominique Renelleau in crime drama The Serpent. He is set to appear in upcoming independent comedy Venice at Dawn. House of The Dragon is his highest profile role to date.

Does Rhaenyra sleep with Criston Cole? 

Yes, Rhaenyra does sleep with Criston Cole - both in the books, and the TV show. He is also the first person Rhaenyra goes to bed with.

Rhaenyra first meets up with Daemon, who takes her for a crazy night out in King’s Landing. There’s chaos and debauchery everywhere, and Daemon eventually decides an orgy is the best place to end their evening - this is to teach Rhaenyra to "take what she wants”. The two kiss and nearly have sex, but Daemon calls a halt to the whole thing - this can only be good, he is her uncle after all and the the yuck factor is high. 

Still excited from the events of the evening, Rhaenyra visits Ser Criston in his bedroom. She playfully seduces him, and the two spend the night together. 

House of The Dragon: season 1 episode 4 ending explained 

Daemon’s lover Mysaria, pays a child to spill the beans to Viserys that Daemon and Rhaenyra had sex. When Viserys confronts him, Daemon doesn’t deny the rumor, and viewers wondered why - it is part of his grand plan to pretend Rhaenyra is now ruined for a future husband, to allow him to marry her and make his claim to the Iron Throne that he so desperately wants. 

Daemon also planted the seed in Rhaenyra’s head during the trip to Kings Landing, that she’d never be accepted as Queen, and to let Aegon become heir. When Viserys confronts Rhaenyra, she denies that she and Daemon slept together, although doesn’t divulge that she did have sex with someone that night - just not Daemon. 

However, Viserys still has her sent moon tea - a drink to prevent pregnancy and induce abortion. This proves that Viserys no longer trusts her word, and will go to any lengths to defend her claim to the throne, and the Targaryen lineage. He doesn’t want his daughter’s name ruined with any children born out of wedlock, or rumours that she’s no longer fit for a noble marriage. 

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.