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'House of the Dragon' — release date, cast, plot and everything you need to know about the 'Game of Thrones' spin-off

A teaser for HBO's 'House of the Dragon'
A teaser for HBO's 'House of the Dragon' (Image credit: HBO)

While many of us are still licking the wounds from the final season of the groundbreaking Game of Thrones that was so disappointing it pushed the show out of the pop culture landscape, HBO is prepping to unload a plethora of spin-offs. The only show officially ordered to series is House of the Dragon, a series surrounding the legendary conflict within House Targaryen 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones

House of the Dragon came into play after the originally planned Naomi Watts-led prequel ended up axed before it even began. Jane Goldman's story was set to take place 1000 years before the Game of Thrones story which, apparently, ended up being a concerning gap for studio execs. However, the series getting scrapped wasn't in favor of House of the Dragon. 

"Jane Goldman is a terrific screenwriter, and I enjoyed brainstorming with her," George R.R. Martin said in a statement. "I do not know why HBO decided not to go to series on this one, but I do not think it had to do with House of the Dragon."

What's the plot of 'House of the Dragon'?

House of the Dragon will take place 300 years prior to the Game of Thrones storyline, with the plot being derived from George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood. The series will explore the rise of House Targaryen through Aegon's Conquest as well as the Dance of the Dragons (the Targaryen civil war). Dynasties will fight! Newly beloved characters will perish... y'know — everything you expect out of something adapted from Martin's work! 

When will ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere?

According to the latest reports, House of the Dragon began filming in April of 2021 in Los Angeles, London, and Spain. This means that we can probably expect the series premiere sometime in late 2022 provided we don't get hit by any additional global crisis! 

Update as of April 26th: Looks like those reports were correct. The official House of the Dragon account tweeted that production was finally underway! 

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Where can I watch ‘House of the Dragon’?

Given the popularity of Game of Thrones, it's possible we'll see more of a staggered release than what we've seen with other HBO properties. (Meaning the series will release on HBO on one day, and be available on streaming at some point after the fact.) However, the platform has been pretty keen on ensuring accessibility to all viewers at once. So, stay tuned for more information on that.

No matter what, you're going to need an HBO account whether it be through your cable provider or HBO Max. 

Who’s working on the series?

The series’ showrunners are Ryan Condal (Colony) and Miguel Sapochnick, who fans may know as the director of some of Game of Thrones most iconic episodes like "Hardhome" and “Battle of the Bastards." He even won the Emmy for Best Drama Series as an executive producer. Outside of the expected increase in dragon-based-violence, many are speculating that this show is going to be the most true-to-form of the spin-offs. 

Clare Kilner (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, The Wedding Date) and Geeta V. Patel (Meet the Patels, The Witcher) will also direct the series. Greg Yaitanes (Banshee, House) is serving as a director and co-executive producer.

Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi is coming back to score the series.

Who’s going to star in ‘House of the Dragon’?

The likelihood of a return from Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen is slim to none considering the series is set three centuries before her birth, but House of the Dragon is stacking the card with some incredible talent. Here’s what HBO had to say about the cast: 

King Viserys Targaryen will be played by Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, Peaky Blinders), the successor of the Old King. He’s said to be a warm, kind, and decent man who only wants to continue the legacy of his grandfather. Place your bets now on how many people mistake that kindness as weakness.

Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel, The Sound of Metal) stars as Alicent Hightower. She’s the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the babeliest babe in all of the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep (the castle on Aegon's Hill in King's Landing), close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.

Relative newcomer Emma D’Arcy is Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the king’s first-born child. She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Rhaenyra has everything a royal family could want in an heir, except she’s not a man--and we know how that goes with royal families of both fiction and reality…

Likely the biggest fan favorite is the Doctor himself, Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) who will play Prince Daemon Targaryen, the younger brother of King Viserys and heir to the throne. Daemon is a dragonrider with true blood of the dragon, but as King Jaehaerys once said, “madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.” I can already smell the conflict.

Steve Toussaint (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Judge Dredd, and Shooting Dogs) joins as Lord Corlys Velaryon aka “The Sea Snake.” The lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline. “The Sea Snake,” is the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros. He built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters. 

Princess Rhaenys Velaryon will be played by Eve Best (Nurse Jackie, The Honourable Woman), a dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, "The Queen Who Never Was" was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, you know, because of that whole “he’s a man” thing.

Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Berlin Station) stars as Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, who loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne. If there’s a Rhys Ifans/Matt Smith showdown, we may never recover.

Fans of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation will be thrilled to know Sonoya Mizuno has been cast as Mysaria. Her character came to Westeros with nothing, sold more times than she can recall, and could have wilted...but instead she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne. We love a woman with the power of secrets!

Most recently, it was announced that Fabien Frankel (The Serpent, Last Christmas) had been cast as Ser Criston Cole. Of Dornish descent, Ser Criston is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword. Which tells me we shouldn’t sleep on the potential of him becoming a major player. 

Is there a trailer for 'House of the Dragon'?

Not just yet. Since the series just started filming in April, all we'd be seeing right now is spliced together footage of old dragon battles anyhow. We do, however, have a few set photos that HBO Max was kind enough to release. Watch this space for a trailer once it becomes available!