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HBO's Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon has finally arrived, welcoming fantasy fans to Westeros nearly two centuries before Daenerys Targaryen was born. Dany's Targaryen ancestors are at the height of their power and influence, with the only threat coming from the heir issue. When King Viserys I names his daughter Rhaenyra as his heir, going against all sexist conventions, it sets the stage for an all-out Targaryen civil war, with Rhaenyra on one side and her friend-turned-foe Alicent Hightower on the other.
Like Thrones, HotD is brimming with talented actors, from industry veterans, to newcomers, to a former Prince Philip. Read on for our guide, welcoming the show's sprawling cast.
The heart of House of the Dragon lies with Rhaenyra, the rebellious crown princess and dragonrider. Though she's expected to raise heirs rather than be one, she's also a growing tactician who has her own ambition for the throne. When her father breaks centuries of tradition and names her as heir, it precedes a clash for the crown that sets off a Targaryen civil war.
The first season of the prequel includes a time jump, with young Rhaenyra played by Australian actress Alcock. She's starred in several Australian drama series, and received the Casting Guild of Australia's Rising Star Award in 2018.
Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra
Playing adult Rhaenyra is D'Arcy, a London-born film and stage actor who is nonbinary and uses gender-neutral pronouns. They've previously appeared in the Prime Video action series Hanna, the British comedy/horror Truth Seekers, and the 2020 film Misbehaviour.
Paddy Considine as King Viserys I
King Viserys succeeded his grandfather Jaehaerys (opens in new tab) on the throne, having been voted in during The Great Council at Harrenhal. He's ruled over a period of peace and during the height of the Targaryens' power, but he only has one child and no male heir, so that period of prosperity will likely be thrown into chaos with his death.
Considine is a British actor and director who's best known for a series of indie films in the 'oos. Stateside, he's best known for playing Simon Ross in The Bourne Ultimatum, Claude Bolton in the HBO miniseries The Outsider, and Father John Hughes in season 3 of Peaky Blinders. He's also part of a rock band called Riding the Low.
Matt Smith as Prince Daemon
Viserys' younger brother Daemon is the presumed heir to the throne at the start of the series, though his hostile personality and antics leave him with very few allies at court. He's also a talented warrior and dragonrider, who thinks he'd be a better ruler than his brother.
House of the Dragon is the latest of Smith's roles in high-profile TV series. After working as a stage actor, he was catapulted to international fame while playing the Eleventh Doctor in the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who. He then went on to play Prince Philip in the first two seasons of Netflix's The Crown. He's also appeared in the films Terminator Genisys (alongside his Thrones descendant Emilia Clarke), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Last Night in Soho, and Morbius.
Sian Brooke as Queen Aemma
Viserys' wife and Rhaenyra's mother Aemma (who deserved so much better) is played by Brooke, a British actress who trained with the National Youth Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She's best known for playing Elizabeth in the fourth season of Sherlock, Deidre Young in Prime Video's Good Omens, and Karen in the Apple TV+ series Trying.
Alicent is the daughter of Hand of the King Otto Hightower, who has grown up in the Red Keep alongside most of the royal family, including her close friend Rhaenyra. Though the girls are besties at the start of the series, the trailer hints that they'll be at odds as adults (probably because of the building connection between Alicent and Viserys).
London-born actress and model Carey made her stage debut when she was nine, landing roles in UK productions of Shrek the Musical and The Sound of Music. She later played the child versions of Diana in 2017's Wonder Woman and Lara in 2018's Tomb Raider.
Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower
Playing Alicent after the time jump is English actor Olivia Cooke, who's best known for playing Emma Decody in the Psycho prequel series Bates Motel. She also starred in the films Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl; Ready Player One; Thoroughbreds; and Sound of Metal.
Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower
Hightower has served as Hand of the King for two Targaryens, advising Viserys as he did his grandfather, King Jaehaerys. He's competent and wise though he has two hidden agendas: his dislike of Daemon, and his desire to raise his family's power (hence him sending his daughter Alicent to comfort the widowed King).
Welsh actor Ifans probably appeared in at least one of your favorite films or shows since the '90s. His stacked resume includes portraying Spike in Notting Hill, Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and Mycroft Holmes in CBS' Elementary. He also recently reprised his 2012 role as Spider-Man villain Dr. Curt Conners, a.k.a. The Lizard, in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Steve Touissant as Lord Corlys Velaryon
Lord Corlys, also known as the Sea Snake, is Viserys' Master of Ships and head of the Royal Fleet, as well as the king's cousin by marriage. He's the head of House Valeryon, a powerful house that's richer than the Lannisters, has the biggest fleet among the houses, and has a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen. Along with heading the second most powerful house, Corlys is still bitter about the realm rejecting his wife Rhaenys for queen years ago.
Barbadian-British actor Touissant has been a prolific actor since the '90s, and has appeared in the film Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, the HBO Max miniseries It's A Sin, and the Prime Video series Fortitude and Small Axe. Fun fact: before landing a main role on House of the Dragon, Touissant auditioned for Thrones several times throughout its run.
Eve Best as Rhaenys Velaryon
King Viserys' cousin Rhaenys is a Targaryen princess and dragonrider, who married Lord Corlys and has two children with him, Laena and Laenor. She was a contender for the crown following King Jaehaerys' death, and had a stronger claim than Viserys, but since she was a woman she was passed over. She's now known as "the Queen Who Never Was," though her son Laenor can be a serious contender for the throne following Viserys' death.
Best is a London-born film, TV, and stage actor who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She's best known for playing Dr. Eleanor O'Hara in Showtime's Nurse Jackie, Wallis Simpson in the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech, and Headmistress Dowling in Netflix's Fate: The Winx Saga. She's also received two Tony nominations and a Drama Desk Award for her work on Broadway.
Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
Ser Criston is the Dornish common-born son of the Steward of Blackhaven, who arrives in King's Landing with nothing but his skill with a sword. As the season goes on, he'll get much closer to young Rhaenyra.
British actor Frankel studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, before making his film debut alongside Thrones alum Emilia Clarke in the 2019 film Last Christmas. He's also appeared the BBC miniseries The Serpent and the 2019 NYPD Blue reboot.
Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
Ser Westerling is one of the longest serving members of the Kingsguard, having joined during King Jaehaerys' rule. He's also Young Rhaenyra's sworn shield and very loyal to House Targaryen. (For Thrones fans who recognize the surname, his descendants, the Westerlings, are a minor house that swore fealty to the Lannisters and surrendered to Robb Stark in season 2.)
McTavish is best known for playing warrior Dougal MacKenzie in the another beloved fantasy adaptation, STARZ's Outlander. The Scottish actor and author has also appeared in The Hobbit film trilogy, AMC's Preacher, and FOX's Prison Break, among other projects. He's also a prolific voice actor for both video games and animated shows and films.
Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
Mysaria is a slave from Essos who became a prostitute in Westeros. She has a special romantic relationship with Daemon, enough that he brings her with him as he flees King's Landing at the end of episode 1.
Japanese-British actress Mizuno worked as a high-fashion model and danced with several ballet companies before making her film debut alongside Oscar Isaac in the sci-fi film Ex Machina. She's best known for playing bride Araminta Lee in the film Crazy Rich Asians, and she also appeared in La La Land, Netflix's Maniac, and FX's Devs.
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