Are you ready to delve right back into the “Game of Thrones” universe? In the prequel “House of the Dragon”, viewers will get to witness the downfall of House Targaryen, civil war, and of course, lots of fire-breathing action from the dragons. In addition, fans will also be introduced to many new characters – one of which is Rhaenyra Targaryen.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the face of Milly Alcock on many “House of the Dragon” posters and fan art. The Aussie actress plays the young Rhaenyra Targaryen where she is born into royalty and privilege. In this interview, Milly Alcock talks about finding her character, how she got cast, and a little teaser about her dragon Syrax.
Q: Who are you playing in House of the Dragon?
I play the young Rhaenyra Targaryen. She is the daughter of the king, Viserys [Paddy Considine] and his only child so there’s also that added tension. She’s thrust into a position that she didn’t think was possible and she kind of has to navigate the world surrounding it and how everybody else feels about it.
Q: What sort of person is Rhaenyra?
She is decisive. She knows what she wants — she just doesn’t know how to get what she wants. She’s born a royal and of high status so she has a position of privilege where she doesn’t have to conform. It means she can get away with being outspoken and not playing by the rules. Which is why we love her, but also why we hate her.
احدث الصور للكوين رينيرا pic.twitter.com/r9GECqBcol
— Rhaenyra (@milly_alcock_) August 6, 2022
Q: What’s in her way?
Er, men? Men are in her way. Because basically, the whole trajectory of her life is decided by men. And usually decided for men. Because she’s a woman they dismiss her, reject her ideas and overlook her constantly. So she’s having to fight that battle.
Q: How did you come to be cast?
It felt very fluky. Because it was literally two self tapes I did in Australia for ‘an unknown HBO project’ during the pandemic. And then like two weeks later I got a phone call and my life changed.
And your hair changed. Presumably that’s a Targaryen wig you’re wearing on screen
Yes. The maintenance of bleaching would have killed my hair — all of us would have been bald by the end of it. But we have a phenomenal hair and makeup team because pretty much all of the cast had weaves or wefts or beards or some sort of hairpiece, but it was so seamless so big shout out to Roz and Kevin, [Culora and Alexander; hair designers], who were basically the gods of hair. I remember trying on the wig for the first time and I thought, ‘There she is. This is real. This is happening.’ Then I would take it off very gently every day after work and I’d look in the mirror and go, ‘Oh.’ It was a bit underwhelming looking at myself!
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Q: How did your life change?
I live in Sydney and we were having major lockdowns, it was a global pandemic. And then I jumped on a plane and moved to London. I was staying in Primrose Hill, very la-di-da and it was my first time living on my own. I learnt a lot. It was hard. But it was so rewarding. And I was so fortunate to have such amazing cast and crew and creators around me. They were aware that I was a 21-year-old by myself in a global pandemic on the other side of the world, doing a job where I was so out of my depth.
Q: Who did you bond with on the cast?
I became very close with Emily Carey [Alicent Hightower]. We met virtually before the show, because Alicent and Rhaenyra have such an important relationship and seeing how that relationship shifts is really key to the story. I met with her and we both had the same feelings about this job. We’re both young women, both doing a major show that usually is based around men. So we both developed a kindred relationship. I adore her and, like Rhaenyra, I’m very protective of her: I feel like she’s my little sister.
Tengo una obsesión con Milly Alcock en el papel de #RhaenyraTargaryen y ni siquiera se ha estrenado la serie… 🤭
Espero poder verla por lo menos durante la primera mitad de temporada. pic.twitter.com/HDCaY77rG2
— Syrax | #HouseoftheDragon (@Syrax130AC) August 1, 2022
Q: What was the shoot like for you?
I mean to give you some perspective, I’ve only ever done Australian TV. So it felt like someone picked me up from Australia and dropped me in the middle of the ocean without a life raft. Very “Life of Pi”, just like stranded and I’m hallucinating and is this real? What’s going on? But it was incredible. It was my first time shooting on a soundstage. My first time shooting with craft services. I remember my first day I went to pay for my coffee from the free coffee cart – in Australia, it’s literally a bucket of biscuits and mintees. That’s it. But I absolutely adored it and you adapt very quickly because you realise that this kind of precision and care is required to do justice to the story that we’re trying to tell. Because the world is so detailed, it allowed all of our heads of department — whether it was costume, armoury, art department or make up — it gave everybody the time and the resources to hone in on those details. That is what made Game of Thrones what it is so hopefully that will make House of the Dragon wonderful too.
Q: What sort of details wowed you?
Obviously since it’s medieval there’s no electricity, so everything is lit by fire. Because when light reflects it hits the ground, to make the ground look really beautiful they would hose down every floor — indoor, outdoor, soundstage — so that the light would reflect off that in the right way. All of my costumes and everybody’s costumes, all the embroidery that you see is all handmade. Even the way a blade would hit the light or the way the engraving within it would reflect – it went through multiple people to be seen as is on the screen. So, yeah, it’s incredible.
my little princess 😍 pic.twitter.com/SfMKgJ1lxe
— Rhaenyra (@milly_alcock_) August 6, 2022
Q: Rhaenyra is a dragon rider. Who is her dragon?
It’s Syrax. Miguel [Sapochnik] told me that they’re basing the personalities of each dragon off an animal, which I thought was really interesting. Syrax is based on an eagle. The thing to understand is that within the context of our world your dragon is like a pet. It’s like a dog — and everybody has a relationship with their dog. I believe that we’re attracted to things that are like us. And to have that closeness there has to be kind of a kindred spirit within that relationship. What that actually meant for me was a bit of interacting with a fake blue screen, patting it a few times. It was kind of funny, but it looks good!
Catch “House of the Dragon” when it premieres on 22nd August on HBO GO.
Images by HBO GO.