House Of The Dragon Cast – Why The HBO Hit Made Confusing Changes
The House of the Dragon cast went through a major change when the series had a time jump and multiple characters were recast.
House of the Dragon is one of HBO‘s biggest hits in years and it has a huge cast to match. The Game of Thrones prequel series takes place approximately 200 years before the original show and while viewers will certainly hear a lot of familiar family names, none of the characters we watched live or die (or in Jon Snow‘s case, both) over the seasons are in the House of the Dragon cast.
Instead, House of the Dragon focuses on an entirely new cast of conniving, morally questionable characters and we are here to explain them. One of the most confusing things about the show is that there is a mid-season time jump of approximately six years, causing the recasting of a lot of the actors, but oddly, not all of the actors.
As you’ll see below, many of the younger characters have multiple actors listed, while the older characters do not.
First up, the ruling house of Westeros:
THE HOUSE OF THE DRAGON CAST MADE MAJOR CHANGES TO HOUSE TARGARYEN
Emma D’Arcy & Milly Alcock – Rhaenyra Targaryen:
If there is a main character in the sprawling House of Dragon cast, it’s Rhaenyra Targaryen. She is the only surviving child of the current Targaryen King, and her appointment as heir to the throne (unprecedented for a woman) sets off a chain of events that eventually leads to bloodshed.
This recasting was one of many that occurred in the series, leading to some initial confusion when it first happened. The casting of Emma D’Arcy as the mature Rhaenyra from the youthful Milly Alcock is one of the first signs she is moving beyond her nickname of the “Realm’s Delight.”
Matt Smith – Daemon Targaryen:
The younger brother of the current Targaryen King, Prince Daemon is known for his volatile temper, skill in battle, and tense relationship with his elder brother. He wields a Valyrian steel sword (much like Jon Snow does in Game of Thrones) and, at the beginning of the show, is the next in line to the throne. Rhaenyra’s naming as heir complicates things for him.
Matt Smith stayed the same throughout the time jump, a welcome sign for fans of the series and the actor himself.
Paddy Considine – Viserys Targaryen:
The reigning King of Westeros, Viserys I is an even-tempered man who was given the throne by a council of lords over his older cousin Rhaenys. This member of the cast of House of the Dragon is more concerned with the day-to-day stability of the kingdom instead of glory and is prone to indecision.
In contrast with his Targaryen ancestors who were conquerors and great warriors, Viserys is a mostly gentle ruler who longs to build a great city and fears a prophecy that only kings of his line know.
Paddy Considine played the character throughout the show, in increasing amounts of makeup and CGI to indicate his failing health of a mysterious wasting disease.
Eve Best – Rhaenys Targaryen:
Rhaenys was the oldest child of the heir of the previous King Jaehaerys I, but was passed over as monarch due to her gender, in favor of her younger cousin Viserys. She acceded to this in order to avoid a civil war and for the good of the Seven Kingdoms, becoming known as the “Queen Who Never Was.”
Since then, she has married into the wealthy and powerful Velaryon family, becoming the wife of Corlys and co-ruler of Driftmark. Of all the House of the Dragon‘s cast members, she is perhaps the one with the most justified grievance but hides it with a mask of civility and patience.
Eve Best portrayed her character throughout the entirety of the first season, including a climactic appearance via dragon considered to be a highlight of the show.
Tom Glynn-Carney & Ty Tennant – Aegon Targaryen:
Aegon is the firstborn son of Viserys and his second wife, Alicent Hightower. He is named for his ancestor Aegon the Conqueror, but unlike his legendary forebear, he is known for his hedonism and amorality more than anything else.
Primarily under his mother’s care, he is a petulant and childish man, though he does not actually seem interested in becoming king, preferring to spend his time gambling, drinking, and assaulting maids.
Ty Tennant played Aegon for his initial appearances, followed by Tom Glynn-Carney after the time jump.
Ewan Mitchell & Leo Ashton – Aemond Targaryen:
The second son of Viserys and Alicent, this House of the Dragon cast member is a quietly intense child who later grows to be one of the fiercest warriors in Westeros, maintaining a black-and-white sense of morality. As one of the last members of his generation of the family to become a dragon rider, he holds a deep sense of resentment against his cousins, which later exploded into terrible consequences.
Leo Ashton plays Aemond for the first part of the season, with Ewan Mitchell later taking on the role.
Phia Saban & Evie Allen – Helaena Targaryen:
The only daughter of Viserys and Alicent, she is quiet and uninterested in the politics and schemes around her, preferring her study of insects. She has an odd and deliberate way of speaking that seems disconnected from the actual events that are occurring around her and seems to sometimes nearly speak in prophecy.
Helaena is initially played by Evie Allen, and then Phia Saban.
Bethany Antonia & Shani Smethurst – Baela Targaryen:
Baela is the elder daughter of Daemon and his wife, Lady Laena Velaryon.
Baela is initially played by Shani Smethurst, then Bethany Atonia.
Phoebe Campbell & Eva Ossei-Gerning – Rhaena Targaryen:
This House of the Dragon cast member is the younger daughter of Daemon and Laena.
Rhaena is played in her first appearances by Eva Ossei-Gerning and then by Phoebe Campbell after the time jump.
At least at the beginning of House of the Dragon, the Targaryens are closely allied with a lesser, but still influential family:
Rhys Ifans – Ser Otto Hightower:
Otto is the head of House Hightower and the Hand of the King (the de facto executive officer of the kingdom) under Viserys I. While he appears loyal to his king, he does not have the same sense of duty to peace and order in the kingdom as his ruler. He is willing to play the Targaryen family against each other in pursuit of his own ends.
At times, this House of the Dragon cast member seems to view himself more as the actual monarch than Viserys and schemes to have his bloodline eventually take the throne, achieving a major goal by marrying his daughter Alicent to the much older Viserys.
Rhys Ifans plays Otto Hightower throughout the series.
Olivia Cooke & Emily Carey – Alicent Hightower:
Alicent is the childhood best friend of Rhaenyra. Alicent and Rhaenyra begin the show as close confidantes, but with the unspoken knowledge that the latter will one day be queen. When Alicent becomes the second wife of Rhaenyra’s father Viserys, it causes a rupture in both their friendship and the established hierarchy of power in the court.
She is loyal to her father and diligent in her role but sometimes chafes at what is required of her. This causes her later to ally herself with Larys Strong to acquire independent sources of information, but at an unpleasant cost.
The younger Alicent is played by Emily Carey, and the older by Olivia Cooke.
The only family except the Targaryens descending from Valyria is:
Steve Toussaint – Corlys Velaryon:
Corlys is the head of House Velaryon, an ancient family that has formed its power base around the sea. As such, Corlys is the most notable and skilled mariner in Westeros. He is constantly engaged in battle with pirates and the force of the Free Cities of Essos, led by a man known as the Crabfeeder.
He is also a member of King Viserys’s Small Council as Master of Ships, but finds himself constantly sidelined by Otto Hightower’s contingent and his warnings about the safety of the kingdom are ignored.
Steve Toussaint plays Corlys throughout the show.
John Macmillan & Theo Nate – Ser Laenor Velaryon:
Laenor is the son of Corlys and Rhaenys and a brave warrior. This House of the Dragon cast member marries Rhaenyra, though their union is fraught and rumors abound about their children.
Both Rhaenyra and Laenor acknowledge their marriage is essentially a political tool, though they do seem to have affection for each other. Over time, Laenor’s feelings of subordination seem to build on him.
Laenor is played first by Theo Nate and then by John Macmillan.
Harry Collett & Leo Hart – Jacaerys “Jace” Velaryon:
The firstborn son of Laenor and Rhaenyra, he is aware that the court whispers about his and his brother’s parentage.
The younger Jace is played by Leo Hart, then by Harry Collett.
Elliot Grihault & Harvey Sadler – Lucerys “Luke” Velaryon:
The younger son of Laenor and Rhaenyra, his relationship with his Targaryen cousins has always been fraught and tense with violence.
The younger Luke is played by Harvey Sadler, then by Elliot Grihault.
Nanna Blondell & Savannah Steyn – Laena Velaryon:
The daughter of Corlys and Rhaenys, she eventually marries Prince Daemon and bears his children.
Laena is initially played by Savannah Steyn, and then by Nanna Blondell after the time jump.
The House of the Dragon cast also includes a particular body of knights. Traditionally, the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms has a personal bodyguard of the finest knights in Westeros, known as:
THE KINGSGUARD – A HOUSE OF THE DRAGON CAST GROUP THAT GOES UNCHANGED
Fabien Frankel – Ser Criston Cole:
Ser Criston is a common-born knight who is chosen by Rhaenyra for the Kingsguard, though their relationship breaks many customs of Westeros. He initially makes a name for himself by besting Prince Daemon in a tourney, which also unfortunately makes him a deep enemy.
Ser Criston is played throughout the show by Fabien Frankel.
Graham McTavish – Ser Harrold Westerling:
Ser Harrold is an experienced knight whose primary duty is to protect Rhaenyra at all costs.
Graham McTavish plays Ser Harrold in the first season of House of the Dragon.
Elliott Tittensor – Ser Erryk Cargyll:
One of two twin brothers who serve on the Kingsguard, it is likely that their loyalties will be tested by the emerging political tension. He eventually sides with Rhaenyra’s faction.
He is played by Elliott Tittensor, the real-life twin brother of:
Luke Tittensor – Ser Arryk Cargyll:
The other twin of the pair, he eventually sides with the Aegon faction of Targaryens.
Both Luke and Elliott Tittensor play their roles for the season.
Ryan Corr – Ser Harwin Strong:
Ser Harwin is famed as an enormously strong warrior, the lover of Rhaenyra, and the father of her children, though Laenor is officially their sire. It is an open but unspoken secret throughout the court, as sullying the reputation of the princess would be lethal.
While the House of the Dragon cast is dominated by the Targaryens and their Velaryon cousins, there are other notable representatives from various powerful families:
THE NOBLE HOUSES
Matthew Needham – Larys Strong:
The younger brother of Ser Harrold, he hides a Machiavellian and amoral mind behind a simple, gentle demeanor. Of all the House of the Dragon cast members, he might be the most dangerous.
Jefferson Hall – Jason Lannister and Tyland Lannister:
The twin Lannister brothers are both powerful members of the court, with Ser Tyland eventually making his way to positions of authority on the Small Council.
Both brothers are played by actor Jefferson Hall.
And finally, there are those who do not belong to any power in the court of Westeros:
Daniel Scott-Smith as Craghas Drahar:
Also known as the Crabfeeder, he is a brutal and ruthless military leader who is in constant conflict with House Velaryon for control of the seas. Known for crucifying his fallen enemies with the tide to be eaten by crabs, he is in the pay of the Free Cities of Essos to disrupt the trade routes of the Seven Kingdoms.
Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria:
A former prostitute turned master of information, her motives remain unclear. Although she is introduced in the company of Prince Daemon, she appears to have no particular loyalty to him and sells information to many people for her own ends. If she is allied with anyone, it seems to be to the smallfolk of King’s Landing.