Milly Alcock and Emily Carey Are Leaving House Of The Dragon. Ahead Of Episode 6, The Stars Share Thoughts On Handing Over Their Characters

Left: Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra sitting at a table during a feast. Right: Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower standing outside in House of the Dragon.
(Image credit: Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO)

Spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode 5 ahead. 

Big changes are ahead on House of the Dragon. Since the beginning, we have known that the two women at the center of the story, Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, would be played by two sets of actresses, one younger and the other older. The time has come for Milly Alcock and Emily Carey to pass off their roles as the princess and the queen to Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively. The two younger actresses spoke about what it was like to hand over the roles. 

For some background, Alcock and Carey have spent the first five episodes of House of the Dragon playing the younger versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent. They portrayed the duo through their teenage years and pivotal life-changing moments, such as Rhaenyra being named heir to the Iron Throne and Alicent becoming the queen of Westeros. Starting next week, the two will no longer be in the HOTD cast. They sat down with NYT to discuss the women taking over their roles, their excitement for the next five episodes, and why they couldn’t have played the older versions of the characters. Alcock explained:  

I’m so excited to see what Emma did with Rhaenyra. There’s no way I could have played her in the later stages of her life because I don’t have the same lived experience that Emma has. So I’m so keen.

Both actresses are young, Alcock is 22 and Carey is 19. They both said they could not play the older versions of their characters because they don’t have the life experiences themselves to relate to them. Carey agreed with Alcock’s above statement and added:  

I love the way you worded that, Mil. That’s so true. When people say, ‘Do you wish you could do the rest of it?,’ I’m always like, ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t think I have the capacity. But I will be honest: It’s strange handing off a character that is so personal. As actors, we put so much of ourselves into the people we play. So it’s strange having to leave someone’s story halfway through. At the same time, it doesn’t feel unfinished because it’s going into obviously amazing hands with Olivia. It’s going to be really cool — and weird — to watch the show as a viewer and not be critiquing our own performances, and just take it in and appreciate the show for what it is.

The women explained that they do not know what is next for the characters, because they were not allowed to read the scripts for the second half of the season. So just like the rest of us, they will find out what the long-term repercussions of the catastrophic royal wedding are next week. 

One of the major takeaways from episode 5 of House of the Dragon revolves around the evolution of Rhaenyra and Alicent, seeing them evolve from teenage girls into players in the great political game for the throne. The princess and heir to the throne made some interesting, to say the least, decisions about her love life. While the queen figured out she had been lied to and made a massive statement against Rhaenyra at the wedding by wearing a green dress (the Hightower's symbol for war.) Making the political stances clear and setting up the time jump nicely. 

Playing these complex roles combined with being on one of the most popular shows of 2022 has to be challenging. Alcock has spoken about the struggles she has had being on HOTD because of its popularity. Both actresses have handled the challenge with grace and will be dearly missed. However, I’m super excited to see how D’Arcy and Cooke play the characters moving into the second half of the season. 

To see how the new actresses take on the Rhaenyra and Alicent and to find out how everything will be impacted by that insane wedding, check out House of the Dragon on HBO or stream with an HBO Max subscription on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET. 

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.