House of the Dragon will “do better” with dragons than Game of Thrones

Image: House of the Dragon/YouTube screen shot
Image: House of the Dragon/YouTube screen shot /

While Game of Thrones may had more than its fair share of dragon action, the upcoming prequel series House of the Dragon stands poised to flood our screen with the mythical fire-breathing creatures. By the time Daenerys hatched her dragon eggs on Khal Drogo’s pyre, dragons were extinct throughout Westeros and Essos. House of the Dragon takes place some 200 years earlier, when the Targaryen dynasty is at the height of its power and dragons rule the skies.

Earlier we reported that there will be 17 dragons in House of the Dragon; now we know for certain how many of those we’ll be meeting in season 1. Showrunner Miguel Sapochnik confirmed to Empire Magazine that nine dragons will feature in the show’s first season, and that a large effort was made to play up the different personalities of each of them.

“I’ve got a book which has hundreds of [concept] designs,” Sapochnik said. “The first thing you want is not to do Drogon. So I came up with a whole theory about how there were three different kinds of dragons, based on their different skulls. We came up with all kinds of stuff. But in the end, we ended up back at Drogon. [Laughs.] There’s something about Drogon. It’s like the Millennium Falcon. It hit something.”

"Each new dragon has its own personality. That’s what’s going on now in our last part of the animation – we’re applying personal character traits to each of the dragons. One of them’s got a [bad] leg. Another one’s much more like an eagle, because she’s kind of neurotic. And another one’s like a curmudgeonly old granny."

It’ll be exciting to see all those details on screen. Can you imagine having the gig to design a bunch of different dragons, really stretching to make each one unique from the others? Dream job.

House of the Dragon cast had a blast filming dragon scenes

Game of Thrones played up the bond between Daenerys Targaryen and her mount Drogon. The many dragons flown by members of House Targaryen hundreds of years earlier were known to make lifelong bonds with their riders; some would go on to accept other riders if they outlived theirs, others lived their remaining days in solitude. Something about the bond between dragon and dragonrider captures the imagination.

“There’s a very symbiotic connection between the dragon rider and the dragon,” explained Matt Smith, who plays Daemon Targaryen. “You’ve got to master it from an early age, and it’s a death-defying experience trying to tame it. For want of a better analogy, it’s a bit like Avatar.”

For Emma D’Arcy, who plays the princess Rhaenyra, filming scenes on the mechanical dragon mount was a blast. While Thrones had Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington on the mechanical mount in front of a bunch of green screen, House of the Dragon upgraded with newer visual effects technology so that the actors were actually surrounded by a digitally generated sky.

“We had an animatronic buck, which is controlled by a device that the director can use to plan each flight path,” recalled D’Arcy. “Honestly, having done my first day on the buck, my takeaway was that every member of production ought to have the right to have a go. They should allot time slots. The most acting I had to do was wipe the grin off my face, because I can’t overstress how thrilling it is.”

George R.R. Martin: The dragons will in House of the Dragon will be “better” than Game of Thrones

Last up, we’ve got A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin himself weighing in on the dragons. Martin talked with Hollywood Spotlight for their latest deep-dive issue, “The Complete Guide to House of the Dragon.” It’s on sale now at newsstands across the United States, and it’s filled with nearly 100 pages of terrific coverage about Game of Thrones and the upcoming prequel series.

Martin is particularly excited to see a couple of specific dragon moments from his book Fire & Blood adapted to the screen, which we will cryptically refer to as Storm’s End and the God’s Eye. And while Martin can’t pick any one dragon he’s most excited to see (though he’s curious how the show will depict Sunfyre, the most beautiful dragon of them all with gleaming golden scales), he sounds pretty confident that House of the Dragon will improve on the dragons from Game of Thrones, especially when it comes to differentiating between the numerous beasts.

“I’m also hoping to see a different interpretation of the dragons than we saw in Game of Thrones, particularly in their colors,” Martin said. “I often describe the dragons by their colors — red, blue, green, and their crests and the bones of their wings are often different colors, too.”

"We kind of lost that in Game of Thrones, with Dany’s three dragons. One is supposed to be black, one is green, and one is white, with secondary colors. But when you saw them in the show, they were all kind of similar to each other. One was black, I guess the other was green, but it was a very dark green, almost like black, and the white one wasn’t really very white. I think we’re going to do better with this new show. I would like all of the dragons to be distinct, so that when you see a dragon fly in, you know at once, that’s Caraxes, that’s Vhagar, that’s Syrax."

From the sounds of things, many efforts were made to make Martin’s wish come true. We’ll be able to see for ourselves when House of the Dragon debuts on HBO and HBO Max on August 21.

Next. All the dragons on House of the Dragon, ordered by size. dark

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