‘House of the Dragon’ Star Emily Carey Addresses ‘Queerbaiting’ Claims: ‘We Weren’t Making Them Gay’

House of the Dragon” is halfway through its first season, and the “Game of Thrones” spinoff is preparing for a major time jump. The series is about to skip forward 10 years, with older actors taking over several key roles. Milly Alcock, who plays Rhaenyra, will be replaced by Emma D’Arcy while Olivia Cook takes over the role of Alicent Hightower from Emily Carey.

Carey and Alcock have earned praise for their performances as the young queen and heir to the Iron Throne, but their characters have also been the subject of speculation. Many fans have noted that the close relationship between the two young girls seems to border on the romantic, with some accusing the show of “queerbaiting” by showing an LGBT connection without fully committing to making the characters gay.

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In an interview with Variety, Carey acknowledges that she was involved in conversations about the characters potentially having romantic feelings for each other, even if the more nefarious claims of queerbaiting are misguided.

“I mean, we kind of started that discourse,” Carey said. “We were in the rehearsal room… I believe it’s Episode 4. I was sat on the bench. It’s not necessarily something we had talked about yet. We were doing that scene, and Milly and I looked at each other like, ‘It kind of felt like we were about to kiss? That was really weird!’ And so we talked about it.”

Carey added that the young ages of the characters meant that decisions about their romantic and sexual feelings were not necessarily a binary choice.

“Being a queer woman myself, it was something that I was conscious of. But I wasn’t consciously putting it out there,” she said. “They’re 14-year-old girls, they don’t know the difference between platonic and romantic. They don’t even know what the words mean, let alone what the feelings mean.”

While the actress ultimately denies claims that the show deliberately suggested that the characters were romantically involved, she also doesn’t see an issue with fans choosing to interpret the relationship that way.

“We didn’t intend to play it. We weren’t ‘making them gay’ or ‘queerbaiting,’ or anything like that,” she said. “It’s just, if you want to read into it and see it like that, do it. If you want to see them as more than friends, do it. If you don’t, then don’t.”

New episodes of “House of the Dragon” air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO

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