House of the Dragon Has One Major "Game of Thrones" Difference: Cooke

While we've learned that the upcoming prequel series is only the beginning of WarnerMedia's plans to expand the "Game of Thrones" universe, HBO's House of the Dragon is the one that will test the waters to see if GoT fans are interested in returning to George RR Martin's world once more or if the series finale was a burnt bridge that can't be rebuilt. Series star Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Sound of Metal) wants to make it clear that's there's going to be one big difference between the two shows: how violence against women is handled.

Olivia Cooke at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Ready Player One' held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, USA on March 26, 2018. Editorial credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com
Olivia Cooke at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Ready Player One' held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, USA on March 26, 2018. Editorial credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

In an interview with The Telegraph, Cooke explained that the actor would've never taken the role of Alicent Hightower if it featured the type of violence many accused "the first few seasons" of GoT of promoting. "I wouldn't feel comfortable in being a part of anything that has just egregious graphic violence towards women for no reason whatsoever, just because they want it to be tantalizing in a way that gets viewers," Cooke explained. "I was lucky enough to read the [prequel] script before, and it has changed a lot from the first few seasons [of 'Thrones']. I don't think they'd be in their right minds to include any of that anymore." And Cooke also knows the pressure the show's under to perform from a fanbase expecting GoT-level quality while also soothing the anger of many still not too happy with the series finale. "I saw too many clips, just being alive at the time, so I knew what was going to happen," Cooke said. "What happened with Daenerys, I was ok with it, because I was expecting it, but it's hard, you know…I'm a bit nervous about the new one. You're never gonna please everyone, so I've just got to not listen to that stuff."

Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon (Image: HBO)
(Image: HBO)

Speaking of HBO's upcoming House of the Dragon, check out the teaser with a 2022 promo at the end (followed by an overview of the series and more)- with Cooke, Emma D'Arcy (Truth Seekers), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill), Steve Toussaint (It's A Sin), Eve Best (Hedda Gabler), and Sonoya Mizuno (Devs) joining Paddy Considine (The Outsider, The Third Day) on the prequel series.

Cooke's Alicent Hightower is the daughter of Hand of the King Otto Hightower, raised in the Red Keep and close to the king and his inner circle. Described as 'the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms,' Hightower has both 'courtly grace and a keen political acumen.' D'Arcy's Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen is the king's first-born, a pure Valyrian-blooded child who is a dragonrider. Some say Rhaenyra was 'born with everything… but she was not born a man." Smith's Prince Daemon Targaryen is King Viserys' (Considine) younger brother and heir to the throne. Described as a "peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…" Previously-cast Considine plays King Viserys Targaryen, chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather's legacy. But good men do not necessarily make for great kings.

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Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon (Image: HBO)

Toussaint's Lord of House Velaryon comes from a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen. As "The Sea Snake," the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world. Danny Sapani was previously in talks for the role. Ifans's Otto Hightower is The Hand of the King, Ser Otto loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne. Best's Princess Rhaenys Velaryon. A dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, "The Queen Who Never Was" was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male. Mizuno's Mysaria came to Westeros with nothing and has been sold more times than she can recall. She could have wilted… but instead, she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne.

Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon (Image: HBO)
Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon (Image: HBO)

Written by a writing team headed by Condal and including Sara Lee Hess and based on Martin's novels, the 10-episode series has Game of Thrones director Sapochnik ("The Battle of the Bastards," "The Winds of Winter") directing the pilot and additional episodes, and partnering with Condal as co-showrunners. Martin, Condal and Sapochnik executive produce alongside Hess and Vince Gerardis. In addition, Clare Kilner, Geeta V. Patel, and Greg Yaitanes round at the directing team, with Yaitanes also co-executive producing. With Martin's novel Fire & Blood covering 150 years in the history of Westeros, there is definitely not a lack of other potential characters to consider. The initial reports that casting was underway also referenced that the Dance of Dragons (the Targaryen Civil War that destroyed nearly all of Westeros) is in the series' long-term plans, with the series expected to begin a slow build towards the bloody event.

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.