Emma D’Arcy knows how Rhaenyra’s story ends on House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon Episode 10
House of the Dragon Episode 10 /

Emma D’Arcy’s role as Rhaenyra Targaryen on House of the Dragon catapulted them to stardom. Speaking with The Guardian, D’Arcy talked about hot-gluing strips of Targaryen blonde hair to themself for their audition, insulating themself from the more bracing aspects of fame, and catching up on Game of Thrones, which D’Arcy had never seen before getting cast as Rhaenyra.

“I got to encounter the ‘drug’ of the show so close to shooting,” D’Arcy said, recalling their binge watch. “I could ride the wave of adrenaline of the old series into shooting a new one.” As for D’Arcy’s favorite character, it might not be who you’d expect: “I had a real soft spot for the Hound!”

I knew D’Arcy was cool.

Emma D’Arcy: Daemon Targaryen is “a deeply problematic character’

D’Arcy’s role on the show was kind of unique, since they played an older version of Rhaenyra Targaryen who only came in after five episodes had passed. For the first half of the first season, the younger Rhaenyra was played by Milly Alcock. “It is a weird thing. We shared custody of this person,” D’Arcy said. “As we got closer to episode six I was quite anxious; people had just lost actors they’d spent five hours with and connected to.”

And D’Arcy’s introduction was a doozy: we watched in graphic detail as Rhaenyra gave birth to her son Joffrey, the first of two explicit birth scenes that D’Arcy played. “It is a really natural process and one that has historically had an incredibly high mortality rate for women,” D’Arcy said of all the birth scenes on the show, which have sometimes been dinged as excessive. “It is telling and interesting that that’s the thing we prefer not to see on screen. I guess the questions it poses to me are: what do we want to see? What are we comfortable with seeing female characters doing?”

And the controversies didn’t stop there. Rhaenyra got involved in a romantic relationship with her uncle Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith. Their relationship was all kinds of creepy, although Daemon ended up being a fan favorite. “I think he is a deeply problematic character,” D’Arcy said. “Getting to see Rhaenyra being groomed as a child by her uncle confirms it, and refuses to allow an audience to wholly ignore the problematic nature of their relationship.”

"Within cinema, there is a long history of creating love interests out of problematic – particularly male – characters. What’s interesting in House of the Dragon is that it utilizes that same trope. You know, like audiences have responded to Matt playing Daemon as this ‘very sexy, masculine love interest’, but simultaneously, I hope that the show is continually acknowledging the problematic nature of it all."

In House of the Dragon season 2, Rhaenrya will stop controlling her inner Targaryen fire

As for what’s next, season 1 left off with Rhaenyra learning about the death of her son Lucerys at the hands of her half-brother Aemond; she got a look on her face that suggested she was fully ready for war. “She is trying to navigate her own Targaryenism,” D’Arcy said. “She has been trying to work out how best to mitigate that very volatile fire in her blood. But when Luke dies, the control required to dampen that inner fire suddenly runs out.”

We’ll see that fire rage across Westeros over the next couple seasons. If you’ve read George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood, then you know how Rhaenyra’s story ends. D’Arcy knows, too, although neither she nor we will give away any spoilers. “It’s a good old antihero storyline,” D’Arcy said. “What a privilege to follow that all the way to the end.”

House of the Dragon should return for new episodes sometime in 2024.

George R.R. Martin: HBO Max changes have “impacted” Game of Thrones spinoffs. dark. Next

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