Olivia Cooke talks House of the Dragon sex scenes, playing a grandma at 30

Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower) is 30 years old. Tom Glynn-Carney, who plays Alicent's son King Aegon, is 29. "It is a strange dynamic that I’m very aware of."
House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon /

HBO's Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon returned the other night with its season 2 premiere, which featured dragons chasing away peasants, sex scandals in the Red Keep, and a child murder. It was like we'd never left.

One of the biggest surprises of the night involved Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), who started up (or maybe continued; the episode wasn't clear) an extramarital affair with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), the Lord of the Commander of the Kingsguard for her son King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney). Both of these characters are extremely pious and buttoned up about sex, so it was surprising to see them get down like this. Although maybe their shared sexual repression helps them connect.

“I think, initially, it’s teenage for Alicent,” Cooke told TV Line. “She’s never allowed herself to act on the feelings that she has. She was in a pretty passionless marriage. Now, her body is doing things that she didn’t think it was capable of.” At the same time, the affair comes with “a great amount of shame for her."

As for Criston Cole, actor Fabien Frankel thinks the sex offers "a relief for the both" of these "incredibly repressed" people. My bet is that neither of them acknowledge the affair in public, and just barely to each other. Repression will do that.

Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Cooke also detailed what it was like shooting those scenes with the show's intimacy coordinator. "She was a physical boundary for us, which was amazing, and she was the one who would go up to the directors and say what we were and were not comfortable with, which just takes the awkwardness out for the actors. Because you're then not having to petition for your own boundaries, and your own safety."

"It becomes a little bit like choreography, so much so that you know I was really grateful to her. But one day she came up to me and we were doing a sex scene and she was like, 'Olivia, can you just arch your back, and look like you're into it a little bit more.' And I was like 'great thank you' because I was thinking about everything else under the sun."

Alicent Hightower's son is played by an actor one year younger than Olivia Cooke, and it's weird

Alicent has never had a fulfilling sex life. She was married off to an old man as a teenager and was soon having babies while her best friend Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) was off finding herself. Alicent is now a widow and a grandmother — her son King Aegon has two kids...well, had two kids — but she's still young.

That said, it's kind of wild that Olivia Cooke is 30 years old and that Tom Glynn-Carney, who plays her son, is 29. "I have really complicated feelings towards it," Cooke told The Times. "If they can create dragons, they could have made me look younger — and then older. Or maybe they should have cast actors in their forties? It’s happened now and I’m grateful for the role, but I’ve just turned 30 and I’m playing a grandma."

Cookie chocks this disparity up in part to Hollywood's persistent fear of putting middle-aged or older women in the spotlight. "There is a real reticence to see women age on screen. A real reticence," she said. "And it’s hysterical to play. Because Tom is a year younger and I’m, like, ‘Son, come here! Come on to the bosom! It is a strange dynamic that I’m very aware of. But I also don’t want to slag off the show — it’s just something Emma [D’Arcy] and I have talked about a lot."

Next. House of the Dragon boss explains book changes to Blood and Cheese scene. House of the Dragon boss explains book changes to Blood and Cheese scene. dark

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