You might not recognize Harry Lloyd when you see him on his new show, Manhattan, a World War II–set drama about the Manhattan Project premiering this Sunday on WGN America. Free of the blond locks he sported as Daenerys Targaryen’s brother Viserys in the first season of Game of Thrones, Lloyd shifts from playing the so-called beggar king to Paul Crosley, one of the scientists working under top-secret conditions to develop nuclear weapons. While in New Mexico (which is both where Manhattan is shot and where it takes place), Lloyd recently snuck in a visit with noted Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin (“Just breakfast, no drinks!”), so he was in full GoT nostalgia mode when Vulture caught up with him recently to discuss his new show, epic Targaryen hair, and how Viserys would fare in Los Alamos. [Note: Game of Thrones spoilers to follow.]

Outside of Robert Oppenheimer, most of the characters in Manhattan are fictitious. Does that make your job easier? Or more difficult?

The interesting thing is, when you play a real-life character or someone based in a book, you always come up against people’s preconceptions of what they have in their heads. So it’s nice here that people will be looking at what you’re doing versus how you’re doing it. When you play Denis Thatcher [his role in The Iron Lady] or Viserys, people are like, “Oh, yeah, I knew you were going to have to do that scene,” and then they’re looking at your choices. But with Paul, I think they’ll be more surprised at which direction the character goes. I think that’s the same for a lot of the characters in Manhattan — where they start off and where they finish, you really don’t know where it’s going. I remember getting the scripts and assuming this next episode was going to deal with this, and it never did. The premise, this strange world with its secrets, and [where] the stakes are so high, there are so many different stories to tell. You really don’t know where it’s going to end up, other than that the bomb will get dropped in August 1945. But within that, we need to be kept on our toes.

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It’s an incredibly well-written script, and an incredibly well-written character that’s very complex. The script felt so natural I felt like I was reading a transcript of people talking, not like it was written dialogue. I loved everything about it. I loved that it was a movie about people finding family and learning to love themselves. I loved that it was subtly complex with this whole other internal world that was inside of Grace that I was able to create on my own.