Emma D’Arcy recalls four-hour audition for House of the Dragon

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

If you’re a well-known actor, you can land roles without having to audition; or if you do, the auditioning is minimal. The producers come to you. For example, I don’t imagine Matt Smith had to do a ton of prep work before landing the role of Daemon Targaryen on House of the Dragon, since he was already a known quantity from his work on shows like Doctor Who and The Crown, and would bring his fans to the party. Or if he did have to prep, it was nothing compared to what his costar Emma D’Arcy went through.

D’Arcy plays Daemon’s wife and niece (ew) Rhaenyra Targaryen, the hopeful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. D’Arcy did a great job in the first season of House of the Dragon and quickly became a breakout star, but before the show, they were an unknown, and they had to do a ton of work to convince the producers that they were the right fit.

“I auditioned [via self-tape] for three months during the pandemic after losing a year of work, so in some ways, I think my hands were tied,” D’Arcy said during a roundtable interview organized by The Hollywood Reporter. “Halfway through the process, the then-showrunner, Miguel Sapochnik, called to ask me if I owned a wig. A proper person would’ve asked someone who does hair for advice…I had a bag of hair in my color from another job, and me and my partner, we literally stuck it to my head, which took about two hours every time I self-taped.”

HBO “took a punt” on Emma D’Arcy, because they “couldn’t bring an audience”

And all that was before D’Arcy got in the room with House of the Dragon showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal. “At the end of that, I did a four-hour in-person audition,” they said. “And then I didn’t hear anything.”

Jennifer Coolidge, another HBO star who was part of this roundtable, couldn’t believe that, since she herself had “never had an audition more than five minutes.” D’Arcy was happy to share:

"I feel like, by the end of three months, I had taped every scene in the show. Because they took a punt on me, I guess, in that I couldn’t bring an audience. I just remember that it was good for a while and then it was awful. And then after a few hours, they said, ‘Great, you can go home and get drunk, we’ll be in touch.’ Then Miguel came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Can we do one more?’"

Apparently, the producers even had D’Arcy perform scenes from the first five episodes, when Rhaenyra is younger and played by the actor Miley Alcock.

Of course, D’Arcy got the part, and the rest is history. It is unusual to cast an unknown like D’Arcy in such a prominent role in such a big series, and I commend HBO for being willing to take that risk. But man, D’Arcy had to work for it. Now that they’re a name herself, I predict less strenuous auditions going forward.

D’Arcy will return as Rhaenyra in the second season of House of the Dragon, which is filming right now. Expect it to premiere on HBO and Max sometime in the summer of 2024.

Next. Emma D’Arcy: Rhaenyra Targaryen is an “expert” on grief. dark

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