Gayle Rankin teases her "wild" turn as Alys Rivers in House of the Dragon season 2

Alys Rivers is one of the most intriguing new characters fans will meet in House of the Dragon season 2, and Gayle Rankin most definitely has the charisma to play her.
"Cabaret" On Broadway Photo Op
"Cabaret" On Broadway Photo Op / Bruce Glikas/GettyImages

Like the second season of Game of Thrones, the second season of HBO's prequel show House of the Dragon will introduce us to several new characters. There's Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor), the lord of Winterfell at the time of this story. There's Amanda Collin as Jeyne Arryn, Clinton Liberty as dragon-riding bastard Addam of Hull, and many more. Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon will need allies as they go to war over the Iron Throne, and the world of the show is about to expand.

One of the most intriguing is Alys Rivers (Gayle Rankin), a mysterious woman who lives at the massive, crumbling castle of Harrenhal. If you've read George R.R. Martin's book Fire & Blood, you know that Alys goes on to have a fairly big role in the story of the Dance of the Dragons, but in season 2, we'll just start to get to know her. "My particular storyline is quite, for the moment, contained," actor Gayle Rankin told Town & Country. "Contained, let's say—very wild, but contained."

In addition to working as a servant at Harrenhal, Alys is also something of a local witch, brewing potions for people and sharing prophetic visions. "I'm obsessed with her," Rankin said. "I've always given the opportunity to play people who are pretty prophetic, which is cool, but it's a lot of pressure! She's so fucking cool. I want to really ground her and find her humanity—I always try to find my way into that, but she has a lot of power, too. Just really exciting. I don't think we've seen half of it yet, so that will be fun."

In season 2, we know that Rhaenrya's husband Daemon Targaryen will travel to Harrenhal. Daemon interacts with Alys in Fire & Blood and we expect the same thing to happen on House of the Dragon. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Rankin said that working on the show was a "joyous" experience, and that she approached her performance as “a kind of Shakespeare cosplay, but with reverence.” With its medieval trappings and penchant for high tragedy, that sounds about right for a Game of Thrones show.

Like a lot of characters, Alys is only sketched in the pages of Fire & Blood. It will fall to House of the Dragon to fill out her character, as it did in the first season with characters like King Viserys I Targaryen. Then again, part of the appeal of a character like Alys is that there's something dangerous and unknowable about them. I'm interested to see how House of the Dragon walks that line. “Alys is a very mysterious character," Rankin told The Cut. "I guess that is Gayle Rankin’s MO. The mystery. The enigma.”

Rankin is a star on the rise. In addition to appearing in shows like GLOW on Netflix and Perry Mason on HBO, she's starring opposite Eddie Redmayne in a new Broadway production of Cabaret at the August Wilson Theatre in New York. Appearing on House of the Dragon, which returns on HBO and Max on June 16, can only raise her profile further.

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