HOTD
Matt Smith, Milly Alcock as Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon

Here's How HOTD's Actors Really Feel About The Show's Sex Scenes

Thanks the gods (both the old and new) for intimacy coordinators.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Game of Thrones was about magic, dragons, and direwolves, but it was equally known for sex and violence. As the follow-up prequel series, House of the Dragon has a fine line to walk, showing the same base desires that drive Westeros, but in a radically different social climate. These quotes from House of the Dragon’s actors about the show’s sex scenes reveal how the series is changing its intimate moments — both onscreen and behind the camera.

Warning: Spoilers through House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 5 follow. Conversations and criticism surrounding how women characters are treated and how sexually violent scenes are portrayed were constant throughout Game of Thrones’ airing on HBO. And although House of the Dragon has toned down the sexual violence, the sex (and violence) is still there, and there’s still a lot of it.

What’s different now is how the show presents these scenes. So far, the first season of HOTD has been praised for portraying sex through the female gaze — at least through one eye. This can be credited in large part to how the series handles sex behind the scenes. Where Game of Thrones sex scenes were largely unchoreographed messes made up as they went along, House of the Dragon has an intimacy coordinator to facilitate these sensitive scenes.

Here’s how the actors in the series feel about filming sex scenes in House of the Dragon.

01

Emily Carey (Young Alicent)

Ollie Upton/ HBO

As the actor who played the teen version of main character Alicent Hightower, Emily Carey told Newsweek she was initially scared of filming her sex scenes with her character’s husband, Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, an actor 30 years her senior.

“Still being 17, the first scene that I read from the show was my sex scene and my intimacy scenes, that includes the scene where I'm bathing the king ... it scared me, because at that point I still hadn't met Paddy. I didn't know how much of a joy he was and how easy he was going to make [the scene], and all I saw was, you know, a 47-year-old man and me. I was a bit concerned,” Carey said.

But having an intimacy coordinator, Miriam Lucia, made all the difference. "To be able to talk everything through and not be shunned, or not feel awkward, or not feel like, 'Oh, this isn't your job. I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable but can I ask you...' It was never any of that, it was just that open dialogue,” Carey said. "In the rehearsal room she was a massive help and on set she was a massive help. It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be."

02

Milly Alcock (Young Rhaenyra)

Ollie Upton/HBO

Milly Alcock, who played the teen version of Rhaenyra Targaryen, not only had sex scenes, but also a whole walk through a brothel where people were having sex. The scene took all day to film, and was, in Alcock’s words “pretty gnarly.”

“There were extras who we had just met who were like, 69-ing for 12 hours,” she told the New York Post, calling it “weird and silly.”

Alcock said having an intimacy coordinator choreograph her scenes well before they filmed helped a lot, as did her scene partners. “I felt very comfortable in all of those scenes,” she said. “[Co-star Matt Smith and I are] just kind of mates. So, it was quite comfortable.”

03

Fabien Frankel (Criston Cole)

Ollie Upton/HBO

One thing that helps is having a long time to prepare. For the intense sex scene Fabien Frankel shot with Milly Alcock, the episode’s director, Clare Kilner, started working with the duo seven months beforehand.

Frankel’s big worry was that sex scenes can come across as over-the-top, but discussing it really helped alleviate his concerns. “The big thing for me was about it not feeling like another gratuitous, sweat-glistening-off-their-back sex scene, 'cause it's just not like that,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Anyone who's ever had sex will tell you sex ain't that beautiful. It isn't some picturesque, amazing thing. It's awkward, especially when you are young. There's an uncomfortability that one has to sit in, and there's a discovery and understanding of each other's bodies — not to mention the practical side of the whole thing.”

Frankel continued: “I just remember back and forth texts, back and forth phone calls, back and forth meetings between Clare, myself, Milly, and our intimacy coordinator. But particularly me, Clare, and Milly going, ‘How do we make this human?’”

04

Matt Smith (Daemon Targaryen)

Ollie Upton/HBO

As bad boy Daemon Targaryen, Matt Smith has found himself sleeping with multiple characters, sometimes on camera, and sometimes off. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he admitted he would have preferred more of it to be off camera, “Yeah, [its] slightly too much if you ask me,” he said.

But the sex is part of author George R.R. Martin’s world, and Smith has accepted that. “You do find yourself asking, ‘Do we need another sex scene?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, we do,’” he said. “I guess you have to ask yourself: ‘What are you doing? Are you representing the books, or are you diluting the books to represent the time [we’re living in]?’ And I actually think it’s your job to represent the books truthfully and honestly, as they were written.”

House of the Dragon Season 1 continues with new episodes every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.