What You Don't Know About The House Of The Dragon Cast

"Winter is coming." There was a time when we all knew the ominous catchphrase. After all, during its eight-season run on HBO, "Game of Thrones" became the most popular TV show of all time (via Time). In fact, as of 2022, it is still the fourth most popular show worldwide (via Insider). Based on the fantasy book series by George R. R. Martin, "Game of Thrones" followed the ancient Stark, Targaryen, and Lannister families as they battled for the Iron Throne in the fictional medieval era kingdom of Westeros.

In August 2022, Westeros returned with "House of the Dragon," an HBO prequel set two centuries before the events of the original series. And rabid "GOT" fans are already thrilled to dive headfirst back into the world of sword fights, scheming, and dragons. The show's premiere reportedly broke records with almost 10 million views (via Collider).

Chances are you've been hooked on the new Targaryen succession battle since episode 1, but here are a few things you may not have known about the cast of "House of the Dragon."

Paddy Considine was waiting for a role like Viserys

As King Viserys Targaryen, Paddy Considine plays a key role in the new "Game of Thrones" prequel — he sits on the Iron Throne and rules over the kingdom of Westeros.

In all likelihood, you've come across Considine's work before. The actor has appeared in films like "Dead Man's Shoes," "In America," "Tyrannosaur," and more. In more recent years, his face has become even more familiar thanks to his roles in "Peaky Blinders" and HBO's "The Outsider."

But despite all of his success, "House of the Dragon" may just be Considine's most exciting project to date. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, when he first heard that he was in the running to play the king in the "Game of Thrones" prequel, he was "cautious." "Sometimes I've been offered things in the past and it sounds exciting, and then you get the script and you just have three scenes or something," he said. "I didn't want to be in the background waving a sword." But as soon as he read the script, he knew this role was everything he wanted. "It was a really rich, beautiful and conflicted character. A beautiful character," he revealed. "I've been waiting for a role like this, if I'm being honest."

Emma D'Arcy knew nothing about Game of Thrones going into House of the Dragon

Emma D'Arcy, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, plays Rhaenyra Targaryen in "House of the Dragon" — an ancestor to Emilia Clarke's Daenerys in "Game of Thrones." While the two characters may be separated by nine generations, they share the same fiery spirit and defiant determination to win what they see as their rightful spot on the Iron Throne.

As of this writing, "House of the Dragon" is D'Arcy's biggest role, having appeared in only a few other shows such as "Wanderlust," "Hanna," and "Truth Seekers." Thanks to their relative anonymity, D'Arcy didn't initially understand just how big their role was. In fact, as they told iNews, they thought they were simply auditioning for a spoof of the original show.

Even after D'Arcy realized she wasn't auditioning for a parody, she didn't connect the dots, having never seen "Game of Thrones." "I'm very naive, and the job was untitled, so I thought it was just another fantasy series," she told Vogue. "I just don't think there's any way that I would have dealt with the pressure of the auditions process if, at that time, I had the love for 'Game of Thrones' that I have now."

Matt Smith has set his sights on something other than 'being successful'

Matt Smith plays Daemon Targaryen in "House of the Dragon." He is the king's brother and, in addition to Rhaenyra, a potential heir.

After a few small TV roles, Smith burst onto the scene when he was cast as the 11th Doctor in BBC's iconic "Doctor Who." Since then, you may have seen him in "The Crown," "Morbius" and "Last Night in Soho." For Smith, "House of the Dragon" is an exciting turning point. "It's strange, as an actor, you're sort of rolling the dice with every job, and it could go either way," he told Rolling Stone. "So you know, it's felt challenging. Has it been as good as some people's trajectories and careers? Probably not. Is it as bad as some others? Probably not. Am I somewhere in the middle? Probably, yeah."

Of course, with "House of the Dragon," Smith is set for a new career high — and new big opportunities are sure to come his way. But as Smith explained, increasing his fame is not necessarily his goal. "For me, it's not about being successful," he said. "It's about being actively challenged and engaged."

Eve Best lives a simple life in Italy

In "House of the Dragon," Eve Best plays Rhaenys Velaryon. While this may be one of her larger roles to date, the actress has enjoyed a hugely successful career, with roles in "The King's Speech," "Nurse Jackie," "A Woman of No Importance," and numerous other TV shows. But it's on stage where Best has really stood out.

She has played several iconic roles in London and on Broadway over the years, including leading roles in "Hedda Gabler," "Antony and Cleopatra," "Macbeth," "Three Sisters," "The Cherry Orchard" and more. She has won one Olivier and been nominated for two Tonys. "I've done more stage than screen, mainly because the parts I've been offered on stage have been significantly more interesting," she told The Guardian.

As she also explained, her life isn't exactly what you'd expect from a famous HBO star. In fact, she lives in Italy. She bought an Italian farmhouse and moved there after the Brexit vote "while [she was] was still European," she said. "I'm growing produce and making my own olive oil," she said. "It's hard work but a huge source of joy and peace. I wear overalls all day, my hands are dirty and I'm pretty feral, but a simpler way of life suits me for now."

Rhys Ifans signed onto House of the Dragon after learning who else was cast

Rhys Ifans is already a pretty familiar face to most moviegoers and TV aficionados alike. Over the years, he's put in memorable performances in "Notting Hill," "Elementary," "The Amazing Spider-Man," and "Snowden." And now, he's playing Otto Hightower, Hand of the King, and father to Gwayne and Alicent Hightower.

Even though starring in the HBO show would have been a huge opportunity for any actor, Ifans based much of his decision on who would be his castmates. "I heard in lockdown that I was going to do it, I got a script and read a few episodes," he revealed (via Indy100). "I think Paddy Considine, Matt Smith and Olivia Cooke were already on board, three actors I really admire, they'd obviously read it and liked it, so I thought 'if they're in, I'm in.'"

Emily Carey has made a career out of playing young versions of different characters

As the young version of Alicent Hightower, Emily Carey has a big part to play in "House of the Dragon." As the character gets older, the part is taken over by Olivia Cooke — and this isn't the first time Carey has played a young version of a character. In fact, so far, her career has been full of these roles — "six or seven" times over, as she told Glamour. In 2017, for example, she played the young version of Gal Gadot in "Wonder Woman" and in 2018, she starred as the young version of Alicia Vikander in "Tomb Raider."

"A lot of my younger versions have been one scene or a flashback or a walk-on," she divulged to Glamour. However, she said her role is much different in "House of the Dragon." She explained, saying, "With this, I got to go into a lot more depth. The creative freedom that I had with the role was something that I've never had before."

Olivia Cooke was happy to be less than famous before House of the Dragon

As the adult version of Alicent, Olivia Cooke becomes one of the rivals of her childhood friend Rhaenyra. While this is far from Cooke's first role, it's one of her first huge mainstream hits. Before "House of the Dragon," she preferred appearing in indie dramas like "Katie Says Goodbye" or "Sound of Metal," although she did appear in Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One."

For Cooke, keeping her career low-key has always been preferable. "I'm in good stead now because I've worked solidly but never reached celebrity status, which I'm pleased about," she told the Independent in 2021. "I'm pretty anonymous still because I don't go to all those parties."

Of course, with "House of Dragon," Cooke is set to lose her anonymity once and for all. "If I think about it too deeply I get amazing anxiety," Cooke told W Magazine. "Because I've never had [fame] and I've managed to be really fulfilled in the career that I've had, I think in my head it's not going to happen to me."

Fabien Frankel is following in his father's footsteps

In "House of the Dragon," Fabien Frankel takes on the role of Criston Cole, a knight who eventually becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Before joining the cast of "House of the Dragon," the actor appeared in the film "Last Christmas" alongside "Game of Thrones" alum Emilia Clarke. He also starred in the Netflix series "The Serpent."

Frankel was thrilled to join the "Game of Thrones" universe."We [Frankel and Matt Smith] both watched the show; we love the show," Frankel told Screenrant. "And I think that we feel very lucky to join a dynasty of television."

Through his work, Frankel is carrying on the legacy of his father, actor Mark Frankel. Although Fabien's father died when Fabien was a baby, he has felt a connection to him throughout his career. "As I've started working, people from his life have magically appeared and found me," he told Vogue. "I've gotten to know him through them and that's been lovely."

Sonoya Mizuno used acting as a way to explore her own identity

Sonoya Mizuno plays Mysaria, a dancer who catches the eye of Daemon, in "House of the Dragon." You may recognize Mizuno from "Ex Machina," "La La Land," "Crazy Rich Asians," "Maniac" or "Devs."

The actress, who is half-Japanese, came to the world of acting while exploring her identity. She was in her 20s when she first traveled to Japan and began to connect with that side of heritage. "It's like you're shut off from half of your body," she told HighSnobiety of her upbringing.

Although she began her career as a ballet dancer, Mizuno has been able to continue exploring her identity by taking on acting roles. She's also focused on challenging racial stereotypes in casting. "I think there's a thing now where people say you can only play the race that you are, but what happens when you fall in between?" she said. "What happens when you are Japanese, Irish, Argentinian, English, and you've never lived in these countries? You don't have the accents of those countries, but you're going to make me Japanese all the time. It's not really as thoughtful as people think it is."

Graham McTavish was almost in the original Game of Thrones

In "House of the Dragon," Graham McTavish, known for "The Hobbit," "Rambo" and "Outlander," plays Harrold Westerling, a knight. He is a perfect fit for the role but, according to Express, he almost turned down the opportunity — just as he did in the original "Game of Thrones" series. That's right. He was reportedly offered a major role in "GOT," but he did not accept. Thankfully, he did end up accepting a role in "House of the Dragon."

As the actor told The Sunday Post, his friend, showrunner Ryan Condal, let the actor pick between two roles in the spin-off series. "When it came closer, he said there were two possible characters I could play, but one of them died in episode four, so of course I went for the other one!" he said. He added that working with Condal on the show was surreal. "This is not something you hear happening very often, where someone has an idea, writes it, meets with the original writer, who loves it, then approaches HBO and they say yes," he revealed. "Every day when we were working on it, I would say to Ryan, as we were surrounded by hundreds of people and massive sets, 'Can you believe this?'"

Steve Toussaint was inspired by Gary Oldman

Steve Toussaint is best known for "It's a Sin," "Small Axe" and "Deep Water, but after 2022, chances are, you'll know him as Lord Corlys Velaryon from "House of the Dragon." As a major character in the series, Toussaint is sure to become a big name in Hollywood. But there was a time when Toussaint had no plans to join the industry at all.

"I grew up in SE London: New Cross/Deptford, that sort of area," he explained to Fabric Magazine. "And sometimes people would go, 'Haha, you're funny, you should be an actor,' but I didn't know anybody who was an actor from my neighborhood, so it was never something that I thought was within my reach." Although Toussaint didn't have any ambitions to pursue acting professionally, he did end up playing Wole Soyinka in a university play. "But I still didn't think that acting was something that people from Deptford did," he admitted. "So, when I finished university I started temping, working in banks." Luckily, Toussaint got some inspiration from an unlikely source — Gary Oldman. Toussaint happened to see him in "Prick Up Your Ears" and he suddenly realized, as he put it, "Oh my God, people like me can be actors."

For David Horovitch, acting is the best therapy

In "House of the Dragon," you'll spot actor David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos, one of the king's councilmen. Mellos is far from being Horovitch's first role — in fact, the actor has appeared in dozens of well-known films and TV shows over the past five decades. Think "Emmerdale," "Just William," "102 Dalmatians," "The Young Victoria" and "Holby City." With over 100 credits to his name, he's something of a British film and theater icon.

But for Horovitch, acting isn't just a profession — it's much more personal. As the actor explained to The Irish Times back in 2007, acting became an important form of therapy after the unexpected, unexplained death of his 36-year-old son. He ended up taking on a role in the play "Honor" that year. "As someone said to me just before I came over, in the very best sense, acting can be a form of therapy," he said. "Therapy is not easy, and it's not easy doing this play, but it has been wonderful for me, actually."

Bill Paterson 'had no desire to be an actor'

Bill Paterson plays Lord Lyam Beesbury, the master of coin, in "House of the Dragon." Paterson is a staple figure of the British TV scene, with credits in "Rebecca," "Fleabag," "Outlander," "Little Dorrit," and more. While it's hard to think of Paterson doing anything but acting, he actually had other plans as a young man.

"I had no desire to be an actor," he once told The Guardian. "But I started going along to the Citizens theatre in Glasgow in my mid-teens and got completely obsessed." As Paterson's obsession with theater grew, he began to work for a theater company. However, he later became a quantity surveyor for a building company. Dissatisfied, he returned to his love of theater by becoming a drama teacher. "I was asked to be in a schools' play, and the next thing I knew I was an actor," he said. Sounds like fate if you ask us!

Gavin Spokes is a very familiar face to London theatergoers

In "House of the Dragon," Gavin Spokes plays Lyonel Strong, master of laws to the king. While this role may make Spokes a TV star, his main claim to fame is his work on stage. On the West End, Spokes has appeared in "Guys and Dolls," "Company," "Quiz," "One Man, Two Guvnors" and "Hamilton" (via Broadway World).

As Spokes explained to "The Acting for Stage and Screen Podcast," his stage and screen experience has given him a mastery of acting for both mediums. "In a way, there is no difference. But actually there is a massive difference," he said. "And what it's really to do with is having incredibly clear thoughts — particularly for screen acting, because a camera just picks up absolutely everything." As Spokes went on to explain, changing between the two mediums used to be tricky, but over the years, it's become easier. 

Milly Alcock dropped out of high school to pursue acting

Milly Alcock plays the younger version of Rhaenyra Targaryen in "House of the Dragon." The young actress's success story has been like something out of a movie. Alcock dropped out of high school and quickly found herself winning roles (via Schon!). Prior to the "Game of Thrones" prequel, she appeared in numerous TV shows in quick succession, including "High Life," "Pine Gap," "Fighting Season," "Reckoning," and "Upright," to name a few.

But, of course, "House of the Dragon" takes her onto a whole new playing field. At first, Alcock didn't even know what she was auditioning for. "I got a self-tape for an unknown HBO project, and I went to shoot it with a friend of mine," she explained to the Evening Standard. Her friend figured out that it was a scene from "Game of Thrones." Within two weeks, she had landed the coveted role. Alcock has since had to adjust to life in the spotlight — including having fans waiting outside of her hotel. "I've only ever lived my life as me and now people care," she said. "It wasn't like I've done other big jobs."