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Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy as Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon

Prepare To Scream Over These New Photos From 'House Of The Dragon'

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The end of HBO's Game of Thrones was never going to be the end of the story. The series' wild popularity more or less ensured there would be a spinoff no matter how controversially the show ended. HBO execs took care in testing different ideas, with five scripts solicited and an entire pilot made and scrapped before deciding on which direction to go. Now, the resulting series, House Of The Dragon, has begun filming. Even better, HBO has already released details and images from the new show.

From the beginning, George R.R. Martin, the author of the book series that inspired these HBO shows, insisted any spinoff would not be a sequel to GOT. It had to come from earlier in history, though exactly where to set a prequel was not an easy decision. In his books, Martin has backfilled tons of history and world-building for Westeros, with details that stretched as far back as 10,000 years before the current day, in the "Age of Heroes."

The initial show put to pilot focused on that very-far-back period, but when it was spiked in favor of House of the Dragon, it was not clear where the new show would focus. The title pointed to the 300-year reign of the Targaryen dragon lords, but a lot happened during that period too.

Here's what's known so far:

'House Of The Dragon' Teaser

When HBO announced the Great GOT Spinoff Showdown winner in 2019, it did so with a teaser. The above clip doesn't give much away about House of the Dragon, other than that it promises a new period in Westerosi history and a time of dragons. But it did direct fans to the source the show will pull from: George R.R. Martin's first volume of his history of the Targaryen reign, Fire & Blood.

On May 5, 2021, the first images from the series were released, leading off with Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen.

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Here's Corlys Velaryon, the head of Westeros' most powerful navy.

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And finally, Queen Alicent Hightower and her father, Otto Hightower. As you can see from his pin, he's the Hand of the King.

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'House Of The Dragon' Cast

Filming for House of the Dragon began in April of 2021. HBO teased the show with images from the first table read on Twitter.

In October 2020, HBO announced Paddy Considine (The Bourne Franchise) had been cast in the first significant role for House of the Dragon.

Considine will play King Viserys Targaryen, whose reign spanned from 103-129 AC. Viserys was a wise ruler, but his love for his family kept him from seeing their true ambitions. His later years set up the events that would eventually lead to the Westerosi Civil War.

On Dec. 11, HBO confirmed three more major characters, rounding out the major Targaryen leads.

Matt Smith, known for his run as the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who and Prince Philip on the first two seasons of The Crown, plays Daemon Targaryen. He is the younger brother to Viserys and uncle/husband of Viserys' eldest, Princess Rhaenyra. Daemon is a scheming warrior and is believed to have killed Rhaenyra's husband to marry her and cement a path to the throne.

Emma D'Arcy, best known for Hanna and Truth Seekers on Amazon, plays Princess Rhaenyra, Viserys' only surviving child from his first marriage and chosen heir. She has trained for the throne her entire life.

Best known for A&E's Bates Motel, Olivia Cooke plays Alicent Hightower, Viserys' very ambitious second wife. She is famed for her beauty, but she possesses a keen political mind.

Unfortunately for Rhaenyra, Viserys' rise to the throne a generation back cemented male primogeniture over firstborn women. When Viserys dies, many in the Small Council refuse to support her claim to the throne. Instead, they back Alicent's claim her young son, Aegon, should inherit, despite the late king's wishes.

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With filming beginning in April, four more cast members were announced on Feb. 11, 2021, starting with Eve Best (Nurse Jackie) as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon; the woman passed over for the throne in favor of King Viserys a generation ago. Her loss is what sealed male primogeniture.

Her husband, Lord Corlys Velaryon, will be played by Steve Toussaint (Judge Dredd). Known as "The Sea Snake," this Essos adventurer is also from a Valyrian bloodline, though not a Targaryen. He's also super-rich, more so than even the Lannisters, and has his own navy. He and Rhaenys will be a powerful ally to whichever side they choose to back, and history suggests they would naturally sympathize with Rhaenyra.

Also joining the cast, Rhys Ifans (Harry Potter) as Otto Hightower, The Hand of the King, and Alicent's father. Sonoya Mizuno (Crazy Rich Asians) has also been cast as Mysaria, a former Essos slave girl who has risen to become Daemon Targaryen's closest adviser.

'House Of The Dragon' Plot Details
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Fire & Blood's first volume begins with the arrival of Aegon and his conquest of Westeros. The book covers the reign of the first seven Targaryens kings, from Aegon I taking control in 3 BC through Aegon III in 157 AC. That's 160 years of Westerosi history the show could have chosen to cover.

With the reveal the series will start with an older Viserys in his 40s, the show confirmed its focus is on the Targaryen Civil War years, aka the Dance of Dragons.

On one side: Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen. Rhaenyra has spent her life as Viserys' eldest and her father's chosen heir. As noted above Daemon schemed to become her husband, fully expecting it as a path to power.

On the other: Viserys' second wife, Queen Alicent, and Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, who just so happens to be also be her father. They claim Alicent's son, Aegon, is the rightful king as his father's only living male heir.

HBO also revealed that the directors for House of the Dragon Season 1 would include newcomers to the franchise Clare Kilner (EastEnders), Geeta Patel (The Witcher), and Greg Yaitanes (House). They join already-announced veteran Miguel Sapochnik, who also serves as showrunner with Ryan Condel (Colony).

'House Of The Dragon' Theories
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Even though the series has anchored itself in a specific era, there are still tons of questions about what will be included.

For instance, the Starks retreated to the North after kneeling to the dragon lords. But the family is well-loved by fans and the heart of the Game of Thrones series. Will the new show leave them out? How about the Lannisters? The Targaryen tradition of intermarrying means families like theirs are unable to gain a foothold of power. Will the show include Cersei's ancestors scheming from the sidelines?

'House Of The Dragon' Premiere Date
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HBO has not yet set a release date for House of the Dragon. But the reported current plan is for the series to arrive in 2022.