House Of The Dragon's Olivia Cooke Explains How Queen Alicent Will Differ From Her Younger Counterpart

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower wearing a green dress.
(Image credit: Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO)

As Emily Carey says goodbye to House of the Dragon and her character Queen Alicent Hightower, Olivia Cooke is on her way in to play the older version of the Queen of Westeros. We saw Alicent reach a breaking point in Episode 5, after she realized she was being deceived by Rhaenyra. She arrives at the royal wedding in a green dress, a color that symbolizes war to the Hightower family. As many of the HOTD characters, including Alicent, age up in the next episode, we’ll see an older, more mature, and likely more aggressive version of the former Lady Hightower. With this, Cooke has explained how this version of the character differs from her younger counterpart.

Olivia Cooke explained what it was like for her to take on the role that people have compared to Cersi from Game of Thrones. It was during an interview with EW that Cooke said the showrunners told her that Alicent is like “a woman for Trump.” That’s quite the comparison and a stark departure from Emily Carey's version of the character. With this, Cooke explained that she chose to find another way into the character's psyche: 

I just didn't want to give them any more mental real estate than they already had. So I tried to find a different route into her, but I could see what they were saying with this complete indoctrination and denial of her own autonomy and rights. I just couldn't be asked to go down that road.

Such a comparison definitely had to be surprising for the actress. However, it seems like she could understand where the producers were coming from in some regard and ultimately, gravitated towards the character's autonomy and personal rights. And with that, Alicent has certainly been through it so far it.

In the first five episodes, we see Alicent go from Rhaenyra’s best friend to Viserys’ wife and queen as a young teenager. She has to have sex with someone much older than her and give birth to multiple children while she is still extremely young. Her father was also fired as hand to the king, and he left her alone in King’s Landing. Finding out the rumor that Rhaenyra and Daemon possibly slept together in the brothel and then finding out the princess lied by omission seemed to be her last straw. Now, after the ten-year time jump, it seems like the queen is even angrier than she was at the end of Episode 5.  

HBO recently released a clip from Episode 6, which shows Rhaenyra carrying her baby to the queen immediately after giving birth. We see the princess walk through the castle in pain, and as CinemaBlend's Laura Hurley wrote in her analysis of the clip, this drops the hint that the feud between the two is burning brighter than it was in the first five episodes. And it seems like Alicent is not pulling any punches. Olivia Cooke provided some explanation as to why Alicent does these such mean things in the second half of the season, saying: 

She does some fucking despicable stuff. But then you've got to think, she's trying to protect her son. She's trying to uphold the patriarchy. She's trying to uphold the legitimacy of the crown. All these things that she feels are so much bigger than she is. I think that's why when she can't control that, she turns to faith more as some sort of tangible element of control, because she doesn't have any in her life whatsoever.

It seems like in the time jump Alicent is trying to get all the power she can in response to the trauma and powerlessness she faced when she was younger. Olivia Cooke’s comments about Alicent being “indoctrinated”  and denying “her own autonomy and rights” made her motivations a bit clearer for the actress.

We’ll have to wait and see how Alicent evolves in the coming episodes, which air on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and can be streamed with an HBO Max subscription. It seems like she is turning into someone fighting against the current power, and specifically Rhaenyra, to make her mark on the game of thrones. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.