It feels like ages since HBO announced August 21 as the release date for House of the Dragona Game of Thrones “successor show” that follows a Targaryen civil war taking place in Westeros 300 years before the events of the original series, but we finally have the full trailer. Starring Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, and Emma D’Arcy, among others, the show is the only one GOT prequel currently green-lit despite at least three others reportedly in the works (a moment of silence for the Naomi Watts spinoff that never was). Although it may be difficult to live up to the expectations set by its epic, record-breaking predecessor, the first episode of House of the Dragon is already George RR Martin approved. “I’ve seen a rough cut of the first episode. And loved it. It’s dark, it’s powerful, it’s visceral … just the way I like my epic fantasy,” Martin wrote on his blog in December 2021.
“Ryan and Miguel have done an amazing job, and the cast … just as with GAME OF THRONES, most viewers will only have heard of a few of the actors, but I think you are going to fall in love with a lot of them, he added. “(Only to have your heart broken later when … but no, that would be telling).” From the trailer to the cast to the story lines, here’s everything that’s been revealed about the project taking us back to Martin’s universe.
House of the Dragon will follow the Dance of the Dragons, a Targaryen civil war that took place in Westeros and is referenced in Fire and Blood spirit The World of Ice and Fire. This particular battle of succession is also explored in two novellas, The Princess and the Queen spirit The Rogue Prince. HBO released the official trailer for the series July 20, and it features all manner of Game of Thrones goodness, including Milly Alcock’s Young Rhaenyra, the all-platinum-blonde Targaryen family, and an extremely dramatic cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs.”
House Targaryen representatives will include Considine as King Viserys Targaryen with Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, the king’s younger brother and heir to the throne, and D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the king’s firstborn daughter. Olivia Cooke will play Alicent Hightower, the daughter of the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). Steve Toussaint is set to take on the role of Lord Corlys Velaryon, also known as the Sea Snake, a nautical adventurer whose house boasts the world’s largest navy. Eve Best will play his wife, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon. Finally, Sonoya Mizuno will be Mysaria, an “unlikely ally” of the prince. On May 5, 2021 HBO released three photos of the cast looking very beachy.
While Game of Thrones was based in Northern Ireland for its entire run, House of the Dragon has opted to shoot in England instead. According to two Radio TimesHBO confirmed in 2020 that House of the Dragon‘s production headquarters would be at Leavesden Studios (the site of the Harry Potter films) in Watford, England. Fans also speculated early on that some scenes were shot in Cornwall, England, after noticing that a stone archway seen being constructed there appears to have a Velaryon crest.
Wed April 27, 2021, The Daily Mail spotted Smith and D’Arcy walking together in costume on a beach along the southwest coast of Cornwall. Repping the colors of House Targaryen’s coat of arms, Smith is dressed down to his boots in black, while D’Arcy wears a gown with several shades of red. Both dragonriders, of course, are sporting icy blonde wigs that would make Daenerys proud.
House of the Dragon has been coming under fire for comments co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik made in The Hollywood Reporter about the role sexual assault and gender-based violence would play in the upcoming show. Game of Thrones was known for its dragons, but also its “sexposition” scenes and graphic depictions of sexual violence. When asked about how the prequel would handle such stories, Saopchnik said the show “pulls back” on the sex scenes, while not shying away from violence against women. “You can’t ignore the violence that was perpetrated on women by men at that time,” he said. “It shouldn’t be downplayed and it shouldn’t be glorified.” Many responded that you can’t exactly claim to need historical accuracy for a time and place that is, in fact, completely made up.
Writer and producer Sara Hess did damage control Vanity Fair, clarifying the show’s position. “We do not depict sexual violence in the show,” she said. “We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator…There are many ‘historical’ or history-based shows that romanticize powerful men in sexual/marriage relationships with women who were actually not of an age to consent, even if they were ‘willing.’ We put that onscreen, and we don’t shy away from the fact that our female leads in the first half of the show are coerced and manipulated into doing the will of adult men.”