House of the Dragon: HBO Halts UK Production After Positive COVID Test

HBO's expansion of George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" universe ran into the one thing even dragons can't defeat: the growing number of COVID cases in the UK, where Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal's House of the Dragon is being filmed. Deadline Hollywood is reporting exclusively that production on the prequel series has been shut down for two days following "a positive case in Zone A", which includes the production's cast and crew. As of now, production is set to resume on Wednesday with the individual who tested positive in isolation, and those in close contact with the individual are also required to quarantine (in accordance with industry guidelines). The news comes on the same day that the British government is reopening the country, even in the face of growing positive numbers in England (52,000 individuals testing positive and 49 people died on Friday, July 16, for example). Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak found themselves in self-isolation after close contact with the health secretary, who tested positive for COVID.

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

HBO's "Game of Thrones" prequel House of the Dragon also stars Emma D'Arcy (Truth Seekers), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Sound of Metal), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill), Steve Toussaint (It's A Sin), Eve Best (Hedda Gabler), Sonoya Mizuno (Devs), Paddy Considine (The Outsider, The Third Day),  Fabien Frankel (The Serpent), Graham McTavish (Outlander), Milly Alcock (Reckoning), and Emily Carey (Get Even).

D'Arcy's Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen is the king's firstborn, 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. 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… 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.' 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.

house of the dragon
House of the Dragon (Image: HBO/WarnerMedia)

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. Frankel's Ser Criston Cole is of Dornish descent, the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. Cole has no claim to land or titles- all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword. Alcock and Carey star as younger versions of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, respectively.

House of the Dragon: HBO Halts UK Production After Positive COVID Test
House of the Dragon (Image: HBO/WarnerMedia)

Written by a writing team headed by Condal and including Sara Lee Hess and based on George R.R. 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.

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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.
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