Warning: Major spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon Season 1. If you aren't caught up, please exercise caution.
Partway through the first season of HBO’s smash hit series, House of the Dragon, fans have fallen in love with several characters in the fantasy drama series set nearly 200 years prior to the events of Game of Thrones. But while some faces, like Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen, Paddy Considine’s King Viserys I Targaryen, and several other members of the House of the Dragon cast will be around a little while longer, other characters will soon age up and be portrayed by entirely different actors and actresses.
Looking at promotional material like the various images and trailers released prior to the 2022 TV show’s release, it’s easy to see that some of the most important characters will look a whole lot different sooner or later. To help make sense of the incoming time jump and new members of the cast, we’ve put together a handy guide to keep track of it all. Let’s break down who’s getting older and who’s taking over in House of the Dragon’s first season…
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy)
For the first half of House of the Dragon’s first season, Milly Alcock has portrayed Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen as the oldest child of King Viserys I Targaryen and the heir apparent slowly began to come of age in the Red Keep of King’s Landing. The young and talented actress has done a tremendous job with her take on the conflicted princess, even if she has dealt with struggles from appearing on such a hugely popular show. With some incredible moments throughout the series so far, including those scenes with Daemon Targaryen, she has had a memorable run as one of the show’s key characters.
But, Alcock will soon be replaced by Emma D’Arcy, but not as part of some random and last-minute cast shakeup. Instead, she will step in to portray an older Princess Rhaenyra following the show’s biggest time jump to date (previous jumps were anywhere from six months to a couple of years). D’Arcy, who revealed they are nonbinary in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter prior to the show’s August 2022 debut, previously appeared on shows like Wanderlust, Wild Bill, Hanna, and Truth Seekers prior to setting their sights on Westeros in addition to taking on roles in movies like Misbehavior and Mothering Sunday.
There is still no word on whether or not there will be flashbacks featuring the younger princess following the big time jump, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke)
Lady Alicent Hightower, Rhaenyra’s best friend and closest confidant who later became her stepmother after becoming the second wife of Viserys I, has been portrayed by Emily Carey for the first half of House of the Dragon’s first season. However, that will soon change, when Lady Hightower, like her former best friend, is portrayed by an older actress following the incoming multi-year time jump. Carey (who uses she/they pronouns), has been at the center of some of the show’s most pivotal moments so far, including some key scenes with King Viserys, both before and after tying the knot.
But, Carey will step aside for another actress to take on the role of a slightly older Alicent. And that actress is Olivia Cooke, who TV viewers will surely recognize from her portrayal of Emma Decody on the A&E psychological drama series, Bates Motel, as well as Modern Love, Vanity Fair, and most recently Slow Horses. Throughout her career, she has also appeared in massive Steven Spielberg blockbusters like Ready Player One and Academy Award-winning dramas like Sound of Metal. Her other film credits include Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Quiet Ones, Life Itself, and most recently, Fireheart.
Lady Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell)
Lady Laena Velaryon (Nova Fouillis-Mosé), the daughter of Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen appeared a handful of times in the first few episode of House of the Dragon, first as she watched the Heir’s Tournament in the series premiere, and then later on when her parents attempted to arrange a marriage between the young girl to the much older king (her mother’s younger cousin). However, the king, on account of the large age gap (she was still just a child), rejected the proposal despite the political alliance it would have strengthened between the two families.
After the time jump, Nanna Blondell will step in to take on the role of an adult Laena. Those who have read George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood are aware of the family's future, but we won’t be spilling those beans just yet. Prior to landing the role the young woman after she comes of age, the Swedish-born actress landed a number of parts on shows like Real Humans, The Inner Circle, Hassel, Andra Avenyn, and Twin.
Blondell also has a number of film appearances to her name, including Sisters in Arms, Red Dot, and Attack on Finland. She also made an appearance in the Black Widow cast as Ingrid, one of the Red Room Assassins from early on in the 2021 Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.
Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan)
And then there is Ser Laenor Velaryon, who has been portrayed by Matthew Carver in his earlier years. The son of Corlys and Rhaenys and brother of Laena has had a smaller role than other characters so far, but it probably won’t remain that way forever.
After House of the Dragon goes through its major time jump, Ser Laenor will be portrayed by John Macmillan, who has been in a little bit of everything throughout his career. This includes TV shows like Sherlock, Silk, Back, and The Nevers, and movies like Fury, Maleficent, and World War Z. He also provided the voice for the character Varl in the successful 2017 PlayStation exclusive, Horizon Zero Dawn, and its 2022 sequel, Horizon Forbidden West. No word on if he’ll reprise his role in the Netflix adaptation revealed by Deadline in August 2022.
As was the case on Game of Thrones for all those years, expect to see even more surprises as we move forward. But, remember you will need access to HBO on cable or with an HBO Max subscription to watch it all unfold.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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