Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and telling the story of House Targaryen, to say that HBO, Miguel Sapochnik & Ryan Condal’s upcoming drama series prequel House of the Dragon is highly anticipated would be an understatement. While doing press for his postapocalyptic Apple movie Finch, Sapochnik offered some perspective on how the look, feel & tone of the series will compare with GOT as well as what the experience of being a showrunner has been like- here are the highlights:
On the Importance of Balancing GOT Respect with Letting HOTD Be Its Own Series: “I think we were very respectful of what the original show is. It wasn’t broken, so we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. ‘House of the Dragon’ has its own tone that will evolve and emerge over the course of the show. But first, it’s very important to pay respects and homage to the original series, which was pretty groundbreaking. We’re standing on the shoulders of that show and we’re only here because of that show. So the most important thing for us to do is to respect that show as much as possible and try and complement it rather than reinvent it. And I was involved in making the original show, so I feel like that’s been useful. Like, I’m not arriving going, ‘Let’s change everything! Let’s do a different color palette!’ No, I quite like the color palette.”
That said, we can’t say, ‘Well, when we did ‘Thrones,’ we did it this way …’. If you start every sentence with that, you’ve lost. This is something else and should be something else. It’s a different crew, different people, different tone. Hopefully, it will be seen as something else. But it will have to earn that — it won’t happen overnight. Hopefully, fans will enjoy it for the thing that it is. We’ll be lucky if we ever come close to what the original show was, so we’re just putting our heads down and getting on with it and hoping what we come up with is worthy of having a ‘Game of Thrones’ title.”
On How It Feels Going From Director to Showrunner: “It’s a lot of work. It’s a pretty interesting shift. I’m producing other directors and getting involved in a lot of the minutiae. Directing feels really simple by comparison. I feel vaguely elated on my directing days because I don’t have to think about anything other than directing. I’ve also learned, as I learned on Finch, that it’s becoming more and more important to me as I’m getting older to work with people I like. The journey is the destination and if you can’t enjoy the journey, then the destination has so much less meaning. I’ve got a group of filmmakers on House of the Dragon I have a lot of fun working with. I’ve never had that level of repeat business of working with the same people again and again. The way I work with [GoT veterans] Fabian Wagner, my DP, and Tim Porter, my editor, we have fun and make jokes and we never used to have that. I can’t tell you how important that is. Because there’s not a lot of funny stuff going on in the world of Thrones, so it’s quite nice to spend time with people you enjoy spending time with.:
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel House of the Dragon also stars Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Sound of Metal), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill), Steve Toussaint (It’s A Sin), Eve Best (Hedda Gabler), Sonoya Mizuno (Devs), Paddy Considine (The Outsider, The Third Day), Fabien Frankel (The Serpent), Graham McTavish (Outlander), Milly Alcock (Reckoning), Emily Carey (Get Even), Ryan Corr (Mary Magdalene), Jefferson Hall (Halloween, Vikings), David Horovitch (Miss Marple), Matthew Needham (Chernobyl), Bill Patterson (Fleabag, Good Omens), Gavin Spokes (Brexit, Hamilton), Wil Johnson (), John Macmillan (), Savannah Steyn (), and Theo Nate ().
D’Arcy’s Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen is the king’s firstborn, a pure Valyrian-blooded child who is a dragonrider. Some say Rhaenyra was “born with everything… but she was not born a man.” Smith’s Prince Daemon Targaryen is King Viserys’ (Considine) younger brother and heir to the throne. A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air… Cooke’s Alicent Hightower is the daughter of Hand of the King Otto Hightower, raised in the Red Keep and close to the king and his inner circle. Described as ‘the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms,’ Hightower has both ‘courtly grace and a keen political acumen.’ Previously cast Considine plays King Viserys Targaryen, chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy. But good men do not necessarily make for great kings.
Toussaint’s Lord of House Velaryon comes from a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen. As “The Sea Snake,” the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world. Danny Sapani was previously in talks for the role. Ifans’s Otto Hightower is The Hand of the King, Ser Otto loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king’s brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne. Best’s Princess Rhaenys Velaryon. A dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Queen Who Never Was” was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male. Mizuno’s Mysaria came to Westeros with nothing and has been sold more times than she can recall. She could have wilted… but instead, she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne. Frankel’s Ser Criston Cole is of Dornish descent, the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. Cole has no claim to land or titles- all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword. Alcock and Carey star as younger versions of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, respectively.
Corr’s Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong is said to be the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms. Ser Harwin is the eldest son to Master of Laws Lyonel Strong and heir to Harrenhal. Hall’s Lord Jason Lannister is the Lord of Casterly Rock and twin to Ser Tyland Lannister. Hall will also play Tyland Lannister, the crafty and calculating politician, twin to Lord Jason Lannister. Horovitch’s Grand Maester Mellos is a voice of reason and trusted advisor to King Viserys. McTavish’s Ser Harrold Westerling has served in the Kingsguard since the days of King Jaehaerys; he is a paragon of chivalry and honor. Needham’s Larys Strong is the younger son of Master of Laws Lyonel Strong, brought to court by his father. Paterson’s Lord Lyman Beesbury is the Lord of Honeyholt and Master of Coin on King Viserys’s small council. Spokes’ Lord Lyonel Strong is the Master of Laws to King Viserys and Lord of Harrenhal. Johnson is Ser Vaemond Velaryon, younger brother to Coryls Velaryon & commander in the Velaryon navy; Macmillan is Ser Laenor Velaryon, son of Corlys Velaryon & Rhaenys Targaryen; Steyn is Lady Laena Velayron, daughter of Corlys Velaryon & Rhaenys Targaryen; and Nate is Ser Laenor Velaryon, son of Corlys Velaryon & Rhaenys Targaryen.
Written by a writing team headed by Condal and including Sara Lee Hess and based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood novels and set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the 10-episode series has Game of Thrones director Sapochnik (“The Battle of the Bastards,” “The Winds of Winter”) directing the pilot and additional episodes, and partnering with Condal as co-showrunners. Martin, Condal, and Sapochnik executive produce alongside Hess and Vince Gerardis. In addition, Clare Kilner, Geeta V. Patel, and Greg Yaitanes round at the directing team, with Yaitanes also co-executive producing.