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House of the Dragon: Everything we know so far

House of the Dragon on HBO
(Image credit: HBO)

House of the Dragon is preparing to take flight — after a short delay. HBO's Game of Thrones prequel about the Targaryen dynasty is currently in production, but recently had to pause filming for a few days due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Once filming resumes, House of the Dragon will get back on track for a 2022 premiere. The cast has already been spotted on set and HBO has released official photos — including one featuring Matt Smith as a Targaryen prince (looking very different from his other royal role, Prince Philip on The Crown).

Winter already came and went on Game of Thrones, which concluded its eight-season run in May 2019. HBO wanted to follow up on the biggest show in its history, so the network began developing five potential Game of Thrones spinoffs. They moved forward with one: House of the Dragon. 

House of the Dragon had a bit of a winding road to existence. HBO first selected an entirely different project for a spinoff, set during the time of the Age of Heroes. But after filming a pilot starring Naomi Watts, that project was scrapped. 

Then, HBO made a surprise announcement that it had gone ahead and ordered 10 episodes of House of the Dragon. The series is based on George R.R. Martin's fantasy novel "Fire & Blood," which chronicles the House of Targaryen's rule, beginning with Aegon I Targaryen's conquest of Westeros some 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.

Writer Ryan Condal (Colony) and Game of Thrones veteran director Miguel Sapochnik will serve as co-showrunners. Sapochnik directed blockbuster Game of Thrones episodes, including Hardhome, The Long Night and the Emmy-winning Battle of the Bastards. 

Here's everything we know about House of the Dragon so far.

House of the Dragon latest news (updated: October 5)

  • HBO Max has released the first trailer for House of the Dragon, which you can watch below
  • Filming on House of the Dragon was paused for a few days due to a positive COVID-19 test among cast and crew. Production will resume after isolation and quarantine.
  • Graham McTavish (Outlander, The Hobbit) has confirmed he'll appear in House of the Dragon, after being spotted in leaked set photos.

House of the Dragon trailer

HBO Max has just released the first trailer for House of the Dragon, giving us our first proper look at what Westeros was like 200 years before Game of Thrones.

It looks very much like the Westeros we knew, albeit rather dark and full of the platinum-hair that was a notable trait among the Targaryens and other noble Valyrian families. 

The Iron Throne has also had a makeover, looking a lot more monstrous than it ever did during Game of Thrones and more akin to what George RR Martin envisioned when writing the books.

Unfortunately the trailer doesn't reveal much of what we can expect, aside from the possibility of those famous Targaryen dragons showing up and causing carnage — something that was lacking in Game of Thrones' later seasons.

House of the Dragon release date rumors

House of the Dragon does not have a release date, but HBO has an idea of when the show will air.

HBO announced the series order in October 2019. In late July 2020, the first rounds of casting began. But that still leaves a lot of steps: filming, editing, visual effects. The latter may take a significant amount of time, since a Targaryen-focused series will have to include dragons. 

"My guess is sometime in 2022," HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys told Deadline in January 2020. "Obviously it’s a big, complicated show."

Production is set to begin in April, according to Casey Bloys, chief content officer at HBO and HBO Max.

If it's anywhere near as complicated as Game of Thrones, consider this: Season 8 required nine months of filming, then took nine months until its premiere. If House of the Dragon follows a similar timeline, then we're looking at a release date circa March or April 2022. That would actually make a lot of sense, since almost every season of GOT premiered in those months.

House of the Dragon set photos

HBO released the first set photos from House of the Dragon, marking the start of production on the show. One of the pics, shared on Twitter, provides a look at the cast members at a socially-distanced table read.

House of the Dragon cast table read

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO also tweeted out individual images of the House of Dragon cast members at the table read, which a fan on Instagram helpfully put together in a collage. It includes Considine, Smith, Cooke, Toussaint, D'Arcy and Ifans.

The first set photos of the cast filming scenes have emerged. Matt Smith and Emma D'Arcy were spotted filming on a beach in Cornwall, England. They're both sporting wigs to have the white-blond hair of Targaryens. Smith is Prince Daemon, while D'Arcy is Princess Rhaenyra. More on the characters below.

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HBO released official photos of the cast in costume as their characters. The pics reveal Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen and Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen; Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon (aka the Sea Snake);  and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower.

House of the Dragon cast and characters

The House of Dragon cast is led by Paddy Considine, who will play King Viserys, according to Entertainment Weekly. He's described as being "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."

The other major House of the Dragon cast members are:

- Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, who is "the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen."

Cooke told Metro.UK that Alicent is "very different" from her recent role in the movie Pixie, whom she described as "really manipulative and conniving and selfish." Perhaps Alicent is one of the good eggs in this world.

- Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, described as "younger brother to King Viserys 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…" 

- Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, "the king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider.  Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man."

In February, four more cast members were announced: 

- Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon aka "The Sea Snake," who will be the lord of House Velaryon. Their bloodline is old as House Targaryen, and Velaryon earned his nickname for being the most notorious "nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros." 

- Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, a dragonrider who is wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon. She did not get the throne at the Great Council because — hold your surprise — "the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male."

- Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. As Hand of the King, Hightower is protecting the throne loyally, and sees the king's brother Daemon (Matt Smith) as the biggest threat to the monach.

- Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria. Mysaria had nothing when she arrived in Westeros. Now, after she's "sold more times than she can recall," she's actually got the trust and of Daemon, the heir to the throne.

- Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole, a member of King Viserys I Targaryen's Kingsguard. On his blog, George R.R. Martin wrote Ser Criston is "the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to lands or titles, all he has is his honor and his skill with sword and lance. He is a challenger, a champion, cheered by the commons, beloved of the ladies. He is a lover (or is he?), a seducer (or is he?), a betrayer (or is he?), a breaker of hearts and a maker of kings … Welcome to Westeros, Fabien. And do keep that sword sharp."

And after being spotted in leaked set photos, actor Graham McTavish confirmed he's part of the cast of House of the Dragon.

I’m really having a lot of fun," he told U.K. fashion magazine Stylist. "We’ve just started. It’s a very big project, so we’re getting to know each other. They’re lovely people. It’s great, but I can’t tell you too much. I can’t tell you really anything about the story! But it involves a lot of dragons.” 

It does not, sadly, seem to involve McTavish's co-star from Outlander, Sam Heughan. In the same interview, Heughan joked, "Am I in [House of the Dragon]?" He also revealed he auditioned for Game of Thrones seven times, for roles including Renly Baratheon and Ser Loras Tyrell.

House of the Dragon plot

House of the Dragon is set several hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones. It's based on Martin's novel "Fire & Blood," which chronicles the rule of House Targaryen from the beginning. The story starts with Aegon I Targaryen's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

House of the Dragon will focus on a particular part of the Targaryen history: The Dance of Dragons. It was a bloody and brutal Targaryen civil war that takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. (That's a little more than a century after Aegon I's conquest.)

Star Olivia Cooke has revealed that House of the Dragon won't have the gratuitous graphic violence against women that was commonplace on Thrones. She told The Telegraph that "I wouldn’t feel comfortable in being a part of anything that has just egregious graphic violence towards women for no reason whatsoever, just because they want it to be tantalizing in a way that gets viewers."

King Viserys I's death sets off a struggle for succession between his daughter from his first marriage, Princess Rhaenyra, and his son from his second marriage, Aegon II. Princess Shireen Baratheon recounted this story in a fifth-season episode of Game of Thrones. 

"Brothers fought brothers, dragons fought dragons," she reminded her father, Stannis. "By the time it was over, thousands were dead."

As Shireen noted, the conflict took its toll on the Targaryens, as almost all of their dragons died in the war. The beasts remained extinct for a century and a half, until Daenerys Targaryen hatched her three dragons in Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon episodes

House of the Dragon will consist of 10 episodes. While we don't know the episode titles yet, HBO has revealed the directors. 

House of the Dragon season 1 directors include Clare Kilner (EastEnders), Geeta Patel (The Witcher) and Greg Yaitanes (House). They join Miguel Sapochnik, who was previously announced as the director of the pilot. 

House of the Dragon concept art

In early December, HBO released two teaser images with the caption "Dragons are coming" as part of an announcement that filming begins in 2021. That basically fits in with our estimated timeline above.

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Kelly Woo

Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.