The Targaryen family’s storied past will soon unfold onscreen in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. It’s based on Fire and Blood, George R.R. Martin’s history of the Targaryen dynasty. But which era and which monarchs will the series bring to life? And when will it premiere? Here’s everything we know about the show so far.
Outlander‘s Graham McTavish is the latest performer to join the cast. He didn’t get a big announcement from HBO though. He confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter following leaked set photos that showed him in costume. It’s still unknown who he’s playing. We wouldn’t be surprised if he has an important role. But in Westeros no one is ever guaranteed to work there for long. HBO formally confirmed, which we saw via Variety, McTavish’s casting, sharing that he’ll play Kingsguard member Ser Harrold Westerling. Six others have also joined the House of the Dragon cast, including Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong; Jefferson Hall as Lord Jason Lannister; David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos; Matthew Needham as Larys Strong; Bill Paterson as Lord Lyman Beesbury; and Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong.
George R.R. Martin and HBO have announced Fabien Frankel will play Ser Criston Cole. Frankel has a Kevin Bacon-esque connection with the original series. He starred alongside Emilia Clarke in Last Christmas. He’ll be taking on a much bigger role on House of the Dragon though. Criston Cole is one of the most important figures of the Targaryen civil war. From HBO’s announcement: “Of Dornish descent, Ser Criston is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword.”
That only hints at Cole’s oversized legacy and how his actions reshaped the Realm forever. As Martin writes, “He is a challenger, a champion, cheered by the commons, beloved of the ladies. He is a lover (or is he?), a seducer (or is he?), a betrayer (or is he?), a breaker of hearts and a maker of kings.” He’s definitely one of the show’s major characters.
Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers), and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) will all be major players in Westeros. Cooke will play Alicent Hightower, the second wife to King Viserys I. She schemed to have her son seated on the Iron Throne. D’Arcy will play Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the would-be queen who was her father’s named successor. And Smith will play the “Rogue Prince,” Daemon Targaryen. Visery’s younger brother was a hero to some, a villain to others, and ultimately husband to his niece Rhaenyra. These are arguably the three biggest roles on the series, with each playing a major part in the Civil War that tore house Targaryen apart.
The show’s first officially announced cast member was The Outsider‘s Paddy Considine. He will play King Viserys I, the Targaryen ruler who foolishly did not anticipate the war of succession that would follow his death.
Joining them in them in important roles will be Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon a.k.a. “The Sea Snake; Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, Rhys Ifans as Hand of the King Otto Hightower; and Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria.
HBO will begin production for House of the Dragon in 2021. And they confirmed in December 2020 that the show will arrive in 2022.
The news also came with new art work for dragons.
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) December 3, 2020
The series is based on part one (of an announced two) of George R.R. Martin’s extensive Targaryen family history, 2018’s Fire & Blood. HBO said in a press release that the prequel is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones. That’s when Aegon the Conqueror united six of the seven kingdoms under his rule, launching a nearly three-century dynasty.
While we thought that might mean House of the Dragon would be an anthology series, the show will instead focus on the first Targaryen civil war, known as “The Dance of the Dragons.”
That war, roughly 130 years after Aegon stepped foot on what became King’s Landing, contributed to the extinction of dragons, House Targaryen’s greatest source of power. No one saw another dragon until Daenerys hatched three nearly 150 years later.
George R.R. Martin co-created the series with Ryan Condal (Colony, Hercules). Condal will write for the show and also serve as joint showrunner with veteran Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik.
Sapochnik led some of the biggest, most famous episodes on the original series. His résumé includes “Hardhome,” “The Winds of Winter,” “The Long Night,” and “Battle of the Bastards,” which earned him a directing Emmy. He will direct House of the Dragon‘s premiere and additional episodes.
One area we know the prequel will live up to the original series will be in the music department. Emmy-wining Game of Thrones‘ composer Ramin Djawadi will return to Westeros to score House of the Dragon.
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) February 2, 2021
The Canceled Prequel
The series is unrelated to the other Game of Thrones prequel that HBO passed on. Unlike House of the Dragon, which received a straight-to-order pickup, that series actually shot a pilot. Known unofficially as Bloodmoon, it was set thousands of years earlier, during the mysterious era when Westeros’s Age of Heroes descended into the first Long Night.
Originally published on July 29, 2020.
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