House of the Dragon — with its massive fire-breathing beasts, epic storytelling, glorious sets and costumes, and eye-popping special effects — will immerse viewers deep in a fantasy world.
But at the heart of this prequel to Game of Thrones, set two centuries earlier than the HBO hit, is something very familiar. That’s the relationship between two childhood best friends who grew up together (albeit in the rarefied confines of the Red Keep). They’re the king’s daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), and her best friend, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), whose father is the king’s top advisor.
Alcock and Carey play the younger versions of these two women (who are also played as adults by Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively) and spoke with us about their characters’ beginnings: what formed them, their intense friendship, and how outside forces vying for power change their lives.
“Rhaenera and Alicent are put together by circumstance, but they’re as close as you can get to being sisters without actually being sisters,” Carey says. “I think what makes them so close is that they are complete polar opposites in how they perceive the world around them.” But, she adds: “They have a huge amount of respect for each other.”
Of course, once they’re adults, the relationship between the free-spirited Rhaenyra and rule-following Alicent looks very different. But at this point, Rhaenyra is just happy to be in the sky atop her dragon. “[Rhaenyra’s] very regulated by rules and what she can and cannot do,” says Alcock. “So, I think she finds this kind of piece when she’s riding.”
Check out the video interview above for more from Alcock and Carey.
House of the Dragon, Series Premiere, Sunday, August 21, HBO and HBO Max