House Of The Dragon Star Emily Carey Talks About That Age Gap Sex Scene

Emily Carey as Queen Alicent in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of House of the Dragon on HBO, called “King of the Narrow Sea.”

HBO’s House of the Dragon skipped ahead in time again for its fourth episode, to the point when Queen Alicent (Emily Carey) and Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) were in their late teens and fully of age in the world of Westeros. It was also the first episode that featured on-screen sex scenes for their characters, which was a particularly daunting task for Carey, who was only 17 when they won the role of Young Alicent. Now, the actress has opened up about the sex scene between Alicent and Viserys, which was filmed with the then-47-year-old Paddy Considine.

Emily Carey (who uses she/they pronouns) as Alicent didn’t have a sex scene that was celebratory or even desired like what Rhaenyra was experiencing elsewhere in the episode. King Viserys summoned the Queen from her bed late at night, and Alicent basically had to lie there for him, all after helping him bathe earlier in the hour. The actress has shared that they were “scared” about the intimate scenes, but they had the help of an intimacy coordinator to make the process comfortable. They told Newsweek:

We have an intimacy coordinator who was amazing. Again, 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—anything that felt intimate was considered an intimacy scene, which I thought was great.

Carey was 18 by the time that they filmed for “King of the Narrow Sea,” but only 17 when they learned that playing the role of Alicent would involve a hands-on bathing scene and a sex scene. While the use of intimacy coordinators has been divisive among some actors (including former Game of Thrones star Sean Bean), Carey was full of praise for having one on hand for House of the Dragon

It had already been revealed prior to the premiere that House of the Dragon wouldn’t depict sexual violence in contrast to Game of Thrones, and the show has largely shied away from gratuitous sex scenes. Alicent’s sequence with Viserys in “King of the Narrow Sea” certainly served a purpose for the plot, rather than a sex scene just for the sake of having one. Emily Carey went on to elaborate on their fears for the intimacy they would have to perform for the episode, saying:

But, 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. And having that outlet of the intimacy coordinator, 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.

For a teenager facing the prospect of some very intimate scenes for what was bound to be a hit HBO show watched by tens of millions of people, having an intimacy coordinator helped them feel more comfortable. They also only had good things to say about Paddy Considine, with whom they’ve shared a large percentage of their scenes. Based on what Game of Thrones actress Gemma Whelan said about filming sex scenes for that show without an intimacy coordinator, it sounds like House of the Dragon made a great decision in bringing one in.

Emily Carey isn’t the only member of the cast to open up about filming intimate scenes for the new show. In fact, before the show even premiered, Matt Smith – whose Daemon has been part of many of the sex scenes – revealed that although there are more for his character than he’d prefer, the goal was to represent the source material rather than deliver anything gratuitous. All of the intimate scenes in the latest episode – including both of Emily Carey’s as Alicent as well as Milly Alcock’s as Rhaenyra with Daemon and then Criston Cole – served the plot and shed more light on their characters. 

Actress Olivia Cooke will take over the role of Alicent Hightower before the end of the first season, but the trailer for the next episode reveals that Emily Carey will still play the Queen for at least one more week. New episodes of House of the Dragon air on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and release at the same time for viewers with an HBO Max subscription.There are some key takeaways from “King of the Narrow Sea” worth considering ahead of what comes next.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).