“House of the Dragon,” the much-anticipated prequel of the highly-rated cable television drama series “Game of Thrones,” (“GOT”) has given fans all around the world an exhilarating thrill, as they all wait for its release this summer of 2022. With all the twists and turns in the narrative, along with the mixed reactions of the viewers to how the original series ended, everyone wanted to know how its actors reacted to the new series.
- 1 “Game of Thrones” started it all
- 2 Get to know what “House of the Dragon” was all about
- 3 Reaction from “GOT” cast members when the prequel was announced
“Game of Thrones” started it all
In 2007, HBO cable TV bought the production rights for the huge, expensive TV adaptation of one of George Raymond Richard Martin’s best-selling novel series. The author only agreed after insisting that he should have a say in the production aspect, including scriptwriting and hiring people for the production crew. He’s credited as co-producer of the TV series.
Based on the epic fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire”
George R. R. Martin was heralded as the American version of J.R.R. Tolkien, the English novelist and poet who wrote the highly successful “Lord of the Rings.” While George already had novels that since the 1970s had been made into TV series and movies, he hadn’t had any luck in getting much success from them. Some of his TV pilots were rejected, and a few which made it on TV yielded mediocre results. It came to a point that he gave up on doing TV, and went back to writing novels, because he didn’t want to deal with cutting the key elements in the story anymore, reflecting budget cutbacks. This shift of focus gave birth to the epic fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which became a best-seller not only in the US but around the world;even then, the TV series didn’t religiously follow what had originally been written.
“Game of Thrones” became a global phenomenon
TV producers, writers and directors David Benioff and D.B. Weiss created the TV adaption of the seven-part book series, that launched the global phenomenon called “Game of Thrones.” The drama series lasted for eight seasons and 78 episodes, and was considered a goldmine by HBO, since it generated over two million viewers during its season premiere, and ended on a high note with close to 20 million people watching the final episode from HBO global platforms.
It’s become a global phenomenon, but in the context of golden age TV, is Game of Thrones actually any good? https://t.co/aj8U6VoC4u
— FT Weekend (@ftweekend) April 12, 2019
21st Century Rulers and Royals were “GOT” fans, along with the critics
Some of the most powerful leaders in the world at that time, such as US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard were devoted fans of the series. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II even took time to look around the “GOT” set, during one of her official visits to Northern Ireland but declined to sit on the Iron Throne. It was later revealed that the Queen wasn’t allowed to sit on any foreign throne, real or fictional. “GOT” was certainly well-received by critics, receiving numerous awards from the Screen Actors Guild, Peabody, and Emmy Awards. The popularity of the show even manifested in people naming their children after the beloved characters in the series.
The ending of the “GOT” generated mixed reviews
According to social media, many fans were disappointed when the original series ended, and debated why the creators chose that path. Active fans of “GOT” took their frustrations to another level – they gathered around two million signatures just to protest, and petition the producers to reshoot the final season. The drama series had such a huge fan base, that even a year after it ended, they still dominated Twitter by posting their dismay. When a poll was conducted on Twitter, Facebook, and in some major publications, the result was that around 60% disliked it and 40% approved of it. George R.R. Martin said that the book would have a different ending, and regretted that he wasn’t able to finish it before the TV series ended.
Get to know what “House of the Dragon” was all about
The executives at HBO knew that the viewers wanted more from the epic story. They started planning and writing the sequels in 2017, and to ensure that they would create something different from “GOT,” which was still airing at that time, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss weren’t part of the creative team. This time, it was George R.R. Martin and screenwriter-producer Ryan J. Condal who collaborated in creating the TV adaptation of its prequel, calling it “House of the Dragon.” The chosen showrunner for the TV production was Ryan along with Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the pilot episode of the new series.
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It wasn’t the first planned prequel series to be produced
George would refer to these prequels as ‘successor series’, because he didn’t want to classify them as “GOT” spin-offs. However, the label didn’t take-off, since TV couldn’t market them as such, as viewers might just become confused with the term. When “GOT” franchise executives talked about producing sequels for the series, they agreed on a story entitled “Blood Moon”, with a cast led by actor Naomi Watts. The production crew was commissioned to film the pilot episode in June 2018, which served as a precursor, to evaluate if it would generate enough interest to be developed into a full-length series. Some of these pilot episodes were used in the season premiere, but several never made it to the TV screen. After viewing the pilot, the executives scrapped the idea, so George and Ryan went back to the drawing board and created a new prequel.
“House of the Dragon” was based on the seventh book
HBO’s “GOT” fans couldn’t believe their luck when the creators and producers of the drama series announced back in October 2019 that a prequel was in the works. This time, they said that the whole series would focus on the ancestors of Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, who became one of the most popular characters in “GOT.” The prequel was reportedly based on the seventh book of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series called “Fire & Blood,” which was released on 20 November 2018. While the novel itself received mixed reviews from book critics, TV executives believed that the TV adaption would be as successful as its predecessor.
The cast of “House of Dragon”
Since the timeline of the story was way before “GOT,” it had new characters which meant that it had a new set of cast members as well. The “House of Dragon” hired the services of many English actors such as Paddy Considine as King Viserys, who at that time sat on the Iron Throne. The main cast also included Emma D’Arcy in the role of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the King’s firstborn, Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, the younger brother of the King, who would ultimately fight his niece for the throne, and Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower, who was regarded as the most attractive woman in their Kingdom, and one of the key persons in the King’s tight inner circle.
— House Of The Dragon (@HOfTheD_HBO) February 12, 2021
The story and its connection to “GOT”
The author said that the prequel was set about 200 years before what went down in “GOT.” It will primarily be about the politics, love and life inside the royal family in the House of Targaryen. It will also tackle how the family’s powerful rule started and ended. While “GOT” fans were introduced to the world of Seven Kingdoms, with Robert Baratheon as King and Cersei Lannister as the Queen during the season premiere of the original series, in the “House of the Dragon,” fans will get to see how the Targaryens dominated the world. It was the era when dragons ruled the Seven Kingdoms, and only the true heirs of the Targaryen bloodline could be dragon riders. The new series would fully explain the stories and myths that were briefly mentioned during the eight seasons of “GOT.” The fans will now have the chance to watch Westeros history unfold, and why Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen were in exile when the original show started.
Reaction from “GOT” cast members when the prequel was announced
It had been three years since the last episode of “GOT” was aired, and while the ending drew mixed reactions, the thirst for more gripping tales about the Seven Kingdoms hadn’t waned. Even the cast members of the original series had their say about it, when the prequel was officially announced by HBO.
Peter Dinklage (Seasons 1 to 8)
One of the most awarded actors in the “GOT” cast due to his magnificent portrayal of the level-headed and smart Tyrion Lannister, said, ‘I think it is going to be a really good show.’ He elaborated that the director-producer of the prequel also worked on the original series, so that also meant that it would be great. Peter just lamented that it was quite unfortunate that HBO wasn’t taking any more risks in offering something new to its programming. Instead of producing more original works, they resorted to creating spin-offs from proven concepts. When he was asked about the mixed reactions of the viewers to how the final season ended, he replied that he would always support the narrative of the story. He believed that the final season might have been polarizing, but that was probably due to the majority of fans not wanting to bid farewell to the characters and the story. ‘We were going off the air, and they didn’t know what to do with their Sunday nights anymore.’
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Seasons 1 to 8)
His acting performance as Jaime Lannister earned Nikolaj Coster-Waldau several nominations from prestigious award-giving bodies, including Primetime Emmy Awards. His character was one of the most developed in the TV series – the Kingslayer went from the most hated character in the first season of “GOT”, for the despicable things he did to a fan-favorite in the later seasons. When he heard about the prequel, he immediately shared, ‘I know it’s probably going to be weird’, but after watching the trailer, he said that it felt very familiar to him. Since Miguel Sapochnik was one of the showrunners of the new series, the actor was assured that it would turn out as great as the original series. He said Miguel was the director of two huge “GOT” episodes, “The Winds of Winter” and “Battle of the Bastards.” While he said that it would be surreal to watch the series, he hoped that the new cast and crew would enjoy success as they all had in the past.
Emilia Clarke (Seasons 1 to 8)
After becoming one of the most popular actors due to her impressive portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen, after the series ended in 2019, she’d been asked many times about returning to make prequels and sequels. She had always said that she would support any spin-offs, during one interview sharing, ‘It’s just inevitable. I wish you all the best, it’s gonna be whatever it will be, but of course, they’re doing more.’ Emilia said that when something huge was created, it was only natural for people to want more. She was sad that the Naomi Watts sequel didn’t push through, but was excited that Miguel Sapochnik was involved in running the “House of the Dragon” series, which centered on the family from which her character came. She grew to love the director after working with him for eight years, and shared, ‘I have no doubt that’s gonna be an enormous success, because he’s just a genius.’
Kit Harrington (Seasons 1 to 8)
His character, Jon Snow, was one of the focal points of the original series, and made him a household name around the world. Even though the series ended a few years ago, Kit confessed that he was still quite emotionally attached to his role, to the other cast members, and to the show itself. He played his role for eight seasons, and when he saw the trailer of the prequel, he knew that by the time he watched the full episode, he would feel ‘a certain rawness.’ It was also reported that when someone asked about the new series during one of his movie promotions, he admitted, ‘It’s so close to my heart, that story, that of course there might be a bit of pain there.’ He believed that while the “House of Dragon” would be quite different, it would share many similarities with the original show. Despite his emotions, he would still watch the prequel, and wish the best for everyone involved in it.
Maisie Williams (Seasons 1 to 8)
If there was one character that everyone wanted to protect, it was Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams. She started filming the show at the age of 12, and practically grew up on the set. With the violence surrounding the narrative of the series, most people were worried that her role and the scenes that she filmed might have traumatized her young self. She assured everyone that it wasn’t the case, because she just didn’t find having a kill list and exacting revenge in the series traumatic. When she was asked how she felt about the prequel, she said, ‘I’m kind of looking forward to watching Game of Thrones—even though it’s not Game of Thrones— and experiencing it as a person that’s not in it.’ She was definitely intrigued by it, and thrilled at the same time by the prospect of being just a fan of the show. However, when she was asked if she wanted to reprise her character, she replied that while she enjoyed her time in the series, she didn’t miss being in it.
Sean Bean (Season 1)
Not all the actors who played a key role in “GOT” were updated about HBO’s new series. It wasn’t surprising at all, because during an interview back in 2021, reporters were shocked that Sean Bean didn’t have any inkling of what happened in the epic fantasy series. Fans found it funny that the actor who portrayed Ned Stark, The Lord of Winterfell in the series, whose death started it all, didn’t know how it all ended. When he was asked if he was interested in reprising his role in a future prequel, he said that he would love to do it again. ‘I might be too old to play Ned Stark again. That’s the trouble, isn’t it?’ He even suggested that the creators could do to him what was done to Robert De Niro in the movie, “The Irishman.”
With everything that was shown in the trailer, many including critics felt that those who were obsessed with the original series might find themselves equally engrossed in the new story, with new characters. The “House of the Dragon” will have a worldwide season premiere in August 2022 – HBO will change the viewing habits of many people during the northern summer. Concepts such as greed for power, family issues, secret love affairs, and fire-breathing dragons have always been a recipe for great entertainment, and would always deliver high viewership ratings, as long as good triumphs over evil in the end. Everyone’s expecting it to dominate cable television once again; just like its predecessor, the first season consists of 10 episodes, with no official news yet if a second season is already ordered; most likely the decision will probably depend on the viewership rating of the first few episodes.