Things Even 'Game of Thrones' Superfans Don't Know About 'House of the Dragon'
1) The plot is loosely based on real-life events.
The author behind the novels HBO adapted to create Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, drew inspiration for the House of the Dragon plot from the English Civil War of the 12th century. He was particularly interested in the battle for the throne that occurred between King Henry I's daughter Matilda and her cousin, Stephen.
3) The show was renewed for a second season less than a week after its premiere.
In the five days following its debut, House of the Dragon had 20 million viewers. No wonder HBO renewed it almost immediately.
4) Promotion for 'House of the Dragon' began before the first season wrapped.
April 2021 was the "Iron Anniversary" (or 10-year celebration) of Game of Thrones. What was HBO's gift to fans? Its first tease of House of the Dragon, which had just begun filming.
5) The throne was redesigned for the prequel.
If that iconic seat looks different to you, there's a reason. To better fit the description of the throne in George R.R. Martin's novels, the new prop was designed to be larger and asymmetrical.
6) Matt Smith previously worked with a 'Game of Thrones' actress.
The actor who plays Prince Daemon Targaryen in HOTD and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen in GoT) were both in 2015's Terminator Genisys. And, yes, she did offer up a warning about the hair and makeup. Smith told Jake's Takes: "I spoke to Emilia about that years ago, and she's like, 'God, I have to go through an hour-and-a-half every day of putting the wig on.'"
7) Steve Toussaint auditioned for multiple roles on 'Game of Thrones.'
But he was never booked. "I was just hardly ever seen for it," he revealed to Entertainment Weekly. Now, he plays one of the most powerful people in Westeros in House of the Dragon, Corlys Velaryon. "I'm glad I got this rather than that," he said.
8) Viserys's dagger is a nod to 'Game of Thrones.'
True GoT fans would recognize this dagger anywhere. It was previously used in one of the most important scenes in the final season. No spoilers, but here's a hint: It involves Arya.
9) Some characters appear older than they are in the books.
Milly Alcock, for instance, was 21 years old when she portrayed 15-year-old Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen on the show—but in the books, the character was only 9 years old at the same point in the plot.
10) Prince Daemon Targaryen was cast with Matt Smith in mind.
Showrunners couldn't imagine anyone else in the lead role's white-blond wig. "Matt is really the only person we talked about," showrunner Ryan Condal told Den of Geek. "We would say, 'Like a Matt Smith or a Matt Smith type' when talking about Daemon."
11) All the fire you see is real.
"Because there's no electricity in this world, everything is lit by fire," Milly Alcock told The Hollywood Reporter. As a result, she said the set would get very hot and sweaty.
12) The cast had to learn a fake language.
Matt Smith told GQit's a combo of Latin and Arabic: "I thought, when I read so many of those scenes, 'Oh God, this is gonna be a pain.' But I really enjoyed those scenes." He says the language brought out a more natural side of his character's personality.
13) The Red Keep sets weren't built on separate stages.
To allow for long, continuous shots, the castle was constructed to look and feel real. "You could have moved into the Red Keep and literally lived there. All of us could have," Paddy Considine, who plays King Viserys Targaryen, told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was ridiculous. I've never been on a set where you just keep walking around and finding rooms and staircases."
14) Emmy D'Arcy and Milly Alcock were told not to speak before filming.
Despite both playing Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (at different ages), director Miguel Sapochnik advised them to steer clear of one another so that they wouldn't end up copying each other's performances.
15) The cast was sent signed copies of George R.R. Martin's book.
"I was going to read it, then I thought, no. What I have to represent is what they've written in the script, and they're going to take liberties with it for dramatic purposes. So I didn't want to read his interpretation or know what happened to my character," Toussaint told Men's Health.
16) Mechanical bull-like machines were used for the dragon scenes.
Milly Alcock told fans at Comic Con that the machines reminded her of what you'd find at a bar or pub. Add in a harness and being lifted six feet off of the ground and you're set.
17) There will be 17 dragons throughout the series.
Writers worked hard to give each one its own look and personality. "The biggest difference about this series is the fact that dragons exist in this [era], whereas they were an extinct species that came back to life in the original show," showrunner Ryan Condal told The Hollywood Reporter.
18) Olivia Cooke didn't watch 'Game of Thrones' until after her audition.
Once she was in the running to play Lady Alicent Hightower, she binged all eight seasons. "People had told me to watch it before that, of course, but I’m one of those people that has to do things on my own time," she told Vogue.
19) The show took 10 months to shoot.
Which is a long time, especially when you stay in character on set. Showrunner Ryan Condal told The Hollywood Reporter, "If you get to know Matt, I'd suggest you do it when he's out of costume because there’s something that happens when he puts on that wig."
20) Matt Smith was injured on set.
While doing a stunt in Portugal, the actor hit a disc in his neck. He finished filming the rest of the season, but had to go to physical therapy as a result.
21) The series has George R.R. Martin's approval.
"George is not an effusive guy," showrunner Ryan Condal told The Hollywood Reporter. "But he loved the pilot so much that Miguel and I both got text messages with more exclamation points than I've ever seen in one place from that man." Now that's an endorsement.
Kevin Winter - Getty Images
22) George R.R. Martin especially liked Paddy Considine's performance.
While some of the show characters stray from Martin's books, he doesn't consider it to be a bad thing. "I am vastly impressed by the show's version of King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, who gives the character a tragic majesty that my book Viserys never quite achieved," Martin wrote in a blog post.
23) Fabien Frankel had a tough time wearing all the armor.
His struggles portraying Ser Criston Cole ended up bringing the cast together on set. "We laughed our asses off because you have to — even if it was just laughing at Fabien trying to sit down in the armor," Matt Smith told Insider. "That gave me such joy every day. Poor Fabien. Bless him. He was in the armor the whole time and that's not easy, but there were some wonderful big characters on that set."
24) Some of the cast felt pressure joining the 'Game of Thrones' world.
Emily Carey, who plays a young Queen Alicent Hightower, started watching Game of Thrones in pre-production, but then stopped because she found it overwhelming. "It adds a certain amount of pressure that it's a preexisting show," Carey told Collider. "And not just that, but it's the biggest TV show, possibly ever. It's impossible to not feel the pressure and the weight of that."
25) Births play a big role in the show.
"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,” showrunner Miguel Sapochnik told The Hollywood Reporter.
26) Director and co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik is done after season one.
He was reportedly exhausted after putting three years of intense planning and development into House of the Dragon—however, he'll stay on in a smaller capacity as executive producer. Alan Taylor, who worked on Game of Thrones, will step in as an executive producer and direct in the second season.
Albert L. Ortega - Getty Images
27) Showrunners already know how the series ends.
"Endings are the easiest thing to do in television," Ryan Condal told The Hollywood Reporter. And, yes, HBO is on board with the top secret idea. At least "today," he added.
28) The civil war storyline might end sooner than you'd think.
29) Naomi Watts was attached to a canceled spin-off series.
The network reportedly spent a whopping $30 million on a pilot for a show about the ancestors of the Lannisters and Starks. "I said to [HBO chief content officer] Casey [Bloys], 'this just doesn't work and I don't think it delivers on the premise of the original series,'" former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt shared in the book Tinderbox: HBO's Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers. "And he didn't disagree, which actually was a relief. So we unfortunately decided to pull the plug on it. There was enormous pressure to get it right and I don't think it would have worked."
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30) This probably won't be the last 'Game of Thrones' spinoff.
A new series centered around fan-favorite character Jon Snow is reportedly in development (which Kit Harington is attached to!), along with seven other GoT-related projects—three live-action prequels, three animated projects, and a stage play.
The "Game of Thrones" prequel, House of the Dragon, is now on HBO Max. Learn about the cast, playing Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen, being on set, and more.