Tower of the Hand

Starring roles named in House of the Dragon

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Dec 11, 2020, 5:00 PM ET
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While everyone may be talking about Disney's major Star Wars and Marvel reveals, HBO wants to remind everyone that it's in the franchise game, too, by announcing today who will be headlining its first Game of Thrones spinoff, House of the Dragon. Joining the previously announced Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen are Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen.

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Let's start with the last name because it's a big one: Matt Smith, best known as the eleventh incarnation of Doctor Who (2010-2013). Most recently, Smith played Prince Philip in Netflix's The Crown, earning an Emmy nomination in 2018, and you'll see him on the big screen next year in Marvel's Morbius. There were rumors that HBO had been aggressively seeking Smith for the role of Daemon, whom HBO describes as: "The younger brother of King Viserys and heir to the throne, Daemon is a peerless warrior and a dragonrider who possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air..."

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Olivia Cooke had lead roles in the films Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015), The Limehouse Golem (2016), Thoroughbreds (2017), and Ready Player One (2018), as well as starring on TV in Bates Motel and Vanity Fair (2018). Cooke plays Alicent Hightower: "She's the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen."

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Last but not least is Emmy D'Arcy, an English actor who may be best known for her role in Truth Seekers (2020), an Amazon Original show created by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. D'Arcy plays Rhaenyra Targaryen: "The king's first-born child. She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything...but she was not born a man."

All the characters announced thus far are pivotal to the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war that predated Game of Thrones by 150 years. (Though it should be noted that the HBO show page still describes House of the Dragon as a new show that will tell the story of House Targaryen "300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.") But given the breakdowns and the notable lack of an Aegon Targaryen -- Rhaenyra's half-brother and principal rival to the Iron Throne -- we can surmise that House of the Dragon will begin several years before the Dance of the Dragons, perhaps with Viserys' courtship of Alicent after the death of his first wife (Aemma Arryn, mother of Rhaenyra). The new show could be Game of Thrones' version of The Crown, following the same characters from season to season, but with significant time passing between seasons.

The HBO page also confirms some of the crew involved: Clare Kilner (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, The Wedding Date) and Geeta Patel (Meet the Patels, The Witcher) will direct the series. Greg Yaitanes (Banshee, House) is director and co-executive producer.

House of the Dragon is expected to film in England in 2021 and to debut on HBO as early as 2022.

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