Rhaenyra Targaryen actor asked not to meet with her older replacement

House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO
House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

We’re two episodes deep on House of the Dragon, HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, and already fans have fallen in love with Milly Alcock’s performance as Rhaenyra Targaryen, the newly christened heir to the Iron Throne. Game of Thrones had a habit of launching the careers of unknown actors, and it looks like House of the Dragon could follow suit.

Alcock was too young to watch Game of Thrones when it was on, but she knew that landing this role was a big deal. “I got the call and I obviously couldn’t tell anyone and I just kind of like sank to the ground,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “I asked my friend if he had any wine and I couldn’t really tell him why. He thought something really awful had happened. He was like: ‘Someone’s sick, someone’s dead, something catastrophic has happened.’ I couldn’t tell anyone for so long.”

After that, she worked with dialect coaches to nail Rhaenyra’s accent, spent hours at the library studying George R.R. Martin’s books, and according to The Wrap, made “big graphs of all the Houses and all the rankings within the Houses [to get an] understanding of what was at stake within the world.” She took this seriously, y’all.

And of course she binged Game of Thrones. “It’s just such a clever show,” she said. “No one is safe. And I think that that is something that audiences aren’t given a lot of the time. We kind of have this in the back of our mind like, ‘Oh, they’re not going to kill off the main character.’ … It’s like, ‘No, Game of Thrones really likes to flip that on its head; that’s why I loved it. I was like, ‘No one is safe.’ It exceeded my expectations every time.”

Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy were discouraged from meeting each other

If you’re worried about Rhaenyra, rest assured that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. However, Alcock is. She plays Rhaenyra for the first five episodes of the series, after which we will skip forward in time and pick up with Rhaenyra when she’s an adult, now played by Emma D’Arcy.

You might think that Alcock and D’Arcy got together and compared notes on their performance, but apparently showrunner Miguel Sapochnik discouraged them from doing that. “Me and Emma were like, ‘Let’s meet up,’” Alcock remembered. “We wanted to have a meeting with [director Miguel Sapochnik] and have a discussion about Rhaenyra’s progression as a character. And Miguel didn’t want us to meet — which was really interesting! So we never had that discussion. Miguel was like, ‘Just trust that you both have it.’ I think he was aware we would be trying to mimic each other.”

That said, Sapochnik and co-showrunner Ryan Condal did give Alcock notes, telling her to lean into Rhaenyra’s stillness. “She’s quite stoic in the way that she like presents herself, and I’m quite a fidgety person,” Alcock said. “And [Ryan and Miguel] kept reminding me that there’s strength in stillness. She doesn’t have to prove herself, she has that status.”

Hopefully that’s enough to ensure continuity when the switchover happens. In the meantime, we have a few more episodes to enjoy Alcock’s performance as Rhaenyra before D’Arcy steps in. New episodes air on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. CST.

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