From breakout stars like Milly Alcock to show business veterans like Matt Smith, the House of the Dragon cast has risen to popularity over the last month. Let’s take a look into the actors’ previous work that led them to the Game of Thrones prequel.
HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon is already halfway through its first season and is bringing spectacular performances to our screens every week. The show takes fans back to Westeros, set 172 years before the main series, which ended in 2019. Based on author George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Blood novel — specifically, the last third of the book — House of the Dragon depicts the history of House Targaryen, a notable family from the original show. While most of the cast will stay stagnant, the show will see two major changes to the leading female roles in the middle of the season. Before the show shifts to the older versions of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, here’s a look at what the cast members have done leading up to their current roles.
The 22-year-old Australian actress depicts the teenage version of Rhaenyra Targaryen, the princess and named heir of King Viserys I. Before landing her big HBO gig, the rising star was one of the two featured leads in the Australian TV show Upright, which began production for season two earlier this year. The show is about two misfits who create an unlikely bond as they navigate their way through the Australian desert to deliver a family piano.
Additionally, Alcock has had recurring roles in mini-series like Reckoning, about two families set on a collision course after a serial killer is believed to have returned, and Fighting Season, a mystery drama about the return of Australian soldiers from their Afghanistan deployment. She’s also been seen in the Australian show The Gloaming and the horror movie The School. As her Game of Thrones featured role nears an end, which she has wonderfully played, we hope this opens the door for much more work in the future.
Playing the opposite of Alcock is 19-year-old Emily Carey as young Alicent Hightower, the new Queen. The British actress started her career as a child star on the London stage before landing the recurring role of Grace Beauchamp on the show Casualty, a BBC medical drama. She’s also been seen playing the younger versions of Lara Croft in 2018’s Tomb Raider and Diana in 2017’s Wonder Woman. Carey also got the leading role as Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna in the 2020 film Anastasia: Once Upon A Time. To add another 2020 role, she was Mika in Netflix’s teen drama series Get Even, a story about four girls who work to expose bullies at their school and end up being framed for murder. The young and talented actress is just getting started with her career, and we’re certainly anticipating her next casting announcement.
Cast as Rhaenyra Targaryen before her younger counterpart, British actor Emma D’Arcy also got their start in the theater world. The nonbinary actor auditioned for the role with no idea it was a precursor to the massive success that is Game of Thrones, which D’Arcy had never even seen. Previously, they were in featured roles in two Netflix series: alongside Toni Collette as Naomi in 2018’s Wanderlust, about a therapist who tries to save her marriage after an accident, and as Astrid in Truth Seekers, a comedy horror about a group of paranormal investigators. They can also be seen in the 2021 romance Mothering Sunday and the 2020 drama Misbehaviour. D’Arcy is expected to reprise their role for season two of the show, which has already been renewed.
Perhaps one of the more recognizable faces of the new cast, Olivia Cooke is probably best known for her role as Emma in the TV series Bates Motel, a great psychological thriller about Norman Bates (played by Freddie Highmore) in his pre Psycho days. Also starring the queen of horror Vera Farmiga, the show is underrated and can’t be recommended enough. 28-year-old British actress Cooke is also the lead in the 2014 horror movie Ouija. She’s also seen in the highly rated Steven Spielberg 2018 film Ready Player One as Samantha, AKA Art3mis, a main supporting character and crush of the lead, played by Tye Sheridan. Other notable roles include the 2017 black comedy film Thoroughbreds, where she stars alongside Anya Taylor-Joy, 2015’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl as the titular “dying girl,” and 2018 drama Life Itself. Cooke now gets to add Game of Thrones to her vast resume, and she’s also expected to return for season two.
Playing the scheming uncle to Rhaenyra and brother of the King as Daemon Targaryen, English actor Matt Smith is best known for his role on Doctor Who as the Eleventh Doctor from 2010-2014. He also starred as Prince Philip in The Crown from 2016-2017, which got him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actor in a drama. Recently, he’s also been notably seen in films such as 2021’s Last Night in Soho as Jack and the 2022 Marvel-Sony movie Morbius as villain and brother of the superhero Milo. Smith also stars as Martin Bright in the 2019 drama Official Secrets and in Terminator Genisys as Alex, a T-5000 Terminator — fun fact, the lead of the movie is Game of Thrones lovely star Emilia Clarke. With years of experience under his belt, Smith takes on his new role, which he is expected to reprise in season two.
As King Viserys Targaryen I himself, Paddy Considine is a British actor, director, and screenwriter. He’s been seen on a couple of other HBO productions: miniseries The Outsider as Claude Bolton, a psychological thriller based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, and miniseries The Third Day, as Mr. Martin, another psychological thriller of a man and a woman’s arrivals on a mysterious island at different times. As for movies, Considine is featured in Edgar Wright’s comedies Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013), two installments of his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. In 2007, he was also in The Bourne Ultimatum as reporter Simon Ross, and Mike Wilson in 2005’s Cinderella Man. Some of his other noteworthy movie roles include Dr. Mann in Wolf (2021), Jago in Miss You Already (2015), Porter Nash in Blitz (2011), Peter Hunter in Red Riding: 1980 (2009), and Pat Morrigan in How to Build a Girl (2019). He wrote and directed the 2011 drama Tyrannosaur starring Olivia Colman, as well as 2017’s Journeyman, which he also stars in with Jodie Whittaker. Considine’s Viserys has been seemingly falling apart in front of our eyes over the past five episodes, so his reign is not looking too hopeful.
Welsh actor Rhys Ifans plays Hand of the King and father of Alicent, Otto Hightower, deliberately trying to wean his daughter into the ruling family. Previously, he was in the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill as Spike, roommate of Hugh Grant’s character. Ifans is also the villain of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, playing Dr. Curt Connors AKA Lizard, which he reprised nearly 10 years later in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Harry Potter fans might recognize him as Luna Lovegood’s father Xenophilius in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. He’s also a part of The King’s Man (2021) ensemble cast as Grigori Rasputin. Alongside co-star Matt Smith, he was also in Official Secrets. To add, he’s the older version of Earl of Oxford in period drama Anonymous (2011), Adrian in Adam Sandler’s movie Little Nicky (2000), Seth Gilbert in comedy She’s Funny That Way (2014), and Galloway in Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (2014). Ifans’ well-rounded career as an actor just further expands with the fantasy that is HotD.
British actress Eve Best plays Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, originally a Targaryen, who’s the “Queen Who Never Was” and cousin to Viserys. She’s best known for her roles as Dr. Eleanor O’Hara in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and Monica Chatwin in the 2014 miniseries The Honourable Woman. She is also Wallis Simpson in the 2010 historical drama The King’s Speech. Most recently, she had a main role as Farah Dowling in Netflix’s Fate: The Winx Saga season one. Best is also a profound stage actress, being nominated for Tony Awards in 2007 and 2008 for A Moon for the Misbegotten and The Homecoming, respectively. We look forward to the bigger role she has to play in Game of Thrones as the story plays out.
Playing opposite Best as her onscreen husband Ser Corlys Velaryon, known as the Sea Snake for his naval power, British actor and writer Steve Toussaint is of Barbadian descent. He played Seso in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), an action fantasy released by Disney. In 2005, he played Roland in Beyond the Gates, a movie based on David Belton, a BBC news producer who worked in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide. From 1994-2000, he was one of three cast members that appeared in every season of the British crime drama The Knock about the activities of customs officers, starring as Detective Barry Christie. Toussaint was Col. Ratcher in Flight of Fury (2007), an action thriller about an Air Force pilot. We’re hoping to find out more about the Velaryon family and their entanglement with the Iron Throne.
Just as Game of Thrones was, House of the Dragon is an ensemble show, so there are sure to be plenty of other actors introduced and still to come that we haven’t touched upon. The show airs on HBO and HBO Max Sundays at 9 p.m. EST.