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It’s a big news week for House of the Dragon. HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel released its official trailer (below), the show will make its Comic-Con debut on Saturday, and The Hollywood Reporter posted its deep-dive Dragon cover story. The story went behind the scenes to chronicle how HBO pivoted from its biggest hit ever to find its first follow-up show and then went onto the set of the U.K.-based series to hear from the cast, showrunners and creator George R.R. Martin.
Here, some of the most talked-about pieces of news to come out of the story about the show, which is set 150 years before the events in Thrones.
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Dragon has a unique structure that’s more like Netflix’s The Crown than Game of Thrones: There are several multi-year time jumps within the season (including a big 10-year leap roughly midway through the season) and cast changes (the female leads switch from Emily Carey and Milly Alcock to Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy). “This is how you tell this story correctly,” showrunner Ryan Condal says. “We’re telling a story of a generational war. We set everything up so by the time that first sword stroke falls, you understand all the players.”
The new series will do for births that Game of Thrones did for weddings. “In medieval times, giving birth was violence,” showrunner Miguel Sapochnik says. “It’s as dangerous as it gets. You have a 50/50 chance of making it. We have a number of births in the show and basically decided to give them different themes and explore them from different perspectives the same way I did for a bunch of battles on Thrones.” Dragon “pulls back” on the amount of sex from Game of Thrones but will still depict sexual violence inherent in its Middle Ages-inspired fantasy world: “carefully, thoughtfully and [we] don’t shy away from it,” Sapochnik says. “If anything, we’re going to shine a light on that aspect. It shouldn’t be downplayed or glorified.”
HBO’s mysterious, rejected Bloodmoon pilot by writer Jane Goldman and starring Naomi Watts was described as “adult, sophisticated and intelligent, and there was a thematic conversation at the center of it about disenfranchisement in the face of colonialism and religious extremism.” But even ultimate insider Martin has never been allowed to see the result. “It wasn’t unwatchable or horrible or anything,” said one executive. “It was very well produced and looked extraordinary. But it didn’t take me to the same place as the original series.”
The new series sought to “change the conversation” concerning diversity and the world of Game of Thrones, casting Steve Toussaint as a white character from the books: The powerful Lord Corlys Velaryon, aka the Sea Snake, the wealthiest character in Westeros. “I loved Game of Thrones, but my only caveat was, ‘Where’s everybody else in this world?’” Toussaint says. “Because it’s a diverse world Martin has created if you look [beyond Westeros], and I think this show comes closer to that.”
Martin reacts to seeing the first nine episodes with plenty of enthusiasm: “It’s powerful, it’s visceral, it’s dark, it’s like a Shakespearean tragedy,” he says. “There’s no Arya — a character everybody’s going to love. They’re all flawed. They’re all human. They do good things. They do bad things. They’re driven by lust for power, jealously, old wounds — just like human beings. Just like I wrote them.”
HBO brass pushed back on the idea that backlash from the final Thrones season will impact viewership of Dragon. “It was a social media backlash,” opined HBO and HBO Max content chief Casey Bloys. “I think in multiple parts of our society, we are reminding ourselves that Twitter is not real life. We knew it was going to be divisive and, of course, you want all fans to be happy, but that’s never going to happen. There weren’t a lot of people walking around despondent or upset. It’s a take that reads well but probably doesn’t fully reflect viewer feelings.” If the ratings are strong enough, HBO is ready to renew the series quickly after its Aug. 21 premiere.
While nothing is yet set in stone, Dragon‘s civil war storyline might only span three or four seasons. But that might not mark the end of the show. Dragon could, in theory, then leap decades forward in time, or backward, to chronicle other events in the Targaryen dynasty (such as Aegon’s Conquest) with an entirely new cast. “The Targaryens span both directions,”. “So as a spine to other possible stories and spinoffs … this is a great place to start.”
For more, see THR‘s cover story, “Inside House of the Dragon: The Epic Mission to Find the Next Game of Thrones.”
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