HBO has revealed the three lead actors for its new Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon. On Friday, the cable channel announced that Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith would star in the new series, set about 180 years before Jon Snow took The Black. The three will be at the center of a war for succession that will practically tear House Targaryen apart.
Olivia Cooke will play Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon, while Emma D'Arcy will play her political rival, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Matt Smith will play Prince Daemon Targaryen, one of the fans' favorite characters in this epic new series. House of the Dragon is based on events described in novellas by George R.R. Martin and recently expanded upon in his Westerosi history book Fire & Blood.
Cooke, D'Arcy and Smith join actor Paddy Considine, who had already been cast as King Viserys Targaryen. In the books, Rhaenyra is Viserys' only child, so he formally names her his heir, but then he remarries Alicent Hightower and has sons. After Viserys died, Alicent tries to install her sons on the throne while Rhaenyra expects to take it for herself, leading to a civil war for succession known in-world as "The Dance of the Dragons."
This story is perfect for another HBO adaptation of Martin's work, as it showcases everyone's favorite part of the original series: the dragons. Here in Westeros' past, there are dozens of dragons and dozens of dragon-riders in House Targaryen, and many of them fight on opposite sides of the war. That means plenty of flying scenes, mid-air battles and lots of fire and blood.
Cooke, 27, is best-known to fans for roles like Art3mis in Ready Player One, Emma Decody in Bates Motel and Lain Morris in Ouija. D'Arcy, 28, is best-known for playing Astrid in Truth Seekers, Sonia Richter in Hanna and Hazel in Misbehaviour. Smith, 38, is best known for starring in Doctor Who for the last decade and playing Prince Philip on The Crown.
HBO announced the directors for Season 1 as well, including Clare Kilner of EastEnders, Geeta Patel of The Witcher and Greg Yaitanes of House. They join Miguel Sapochnick, the long-time Game of Thrones direct known for action-heavy episodes like "The Battle of the Bastards."
Sapochnick will direct the pilot episode of House of the Dragon and be a showrunner on the series, alongside writer Ryan Condel. The first season will consist of 10 episodes, just like the early seasons of the original series. House of the Dragon is entering production in England in 2021 and is expected to premiere some time in 2022 on HBO.