HBO confirmed the first actor to get a starring role in the cast of the upcoming GoT prequel series, House of the Dragon almost a month ago and a week ago it announced three more cast members, since filming begins soon and paparazzi will soon leak photos in any case(depending on how many sets will be outdoors) making spoilers unavoidable. For the first actor, all the reactions were positive, as the English actor Paddy Considine, known for his various roles,his most recent being the participation in the HBO series The Outsider, fits quite well with how Viserys Targaryen will be portrayed,the main difference from the role being that he is just a bit thinner – something that changes of course with the necessary prosthetics and make up -. However, after the announcement of the next three actors, namely Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen, Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen, the reactions were mixed and varied, while most of the objections were concentrated in the faces of Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy.
The ages of the actors confuse us and it has been theorized, both from publications and from the orthodox line of fans of the book, that we will see actors who will play the characters in a youthful stage of their life, and after 2 or 3 seasons,they will be replaced from different ones that will be an older “version” and that at the moment we have learned the cast of actors who will play the younger versions-this is a widespread perception-. This is the model that was followed in the series The Crown where every two seasons the actors change with older ones in order to make the passage of time be more visible effectively and it was quite successful we can admit.Will this tactic be used in this case, given that the events before the civil war and until the end of it are at least a period of 30 years? It is difficult for the actors to remain the same, while a narrative technique full of flashbacks or intertwined stories from the past and the present is extremely likely to confuse the audience (as was the case with The Witcher).In GoT, on the other hand, there was no need to cover a long period of time, so this issue was not raised there. Let’s look at the ages of each actor and the corresponding character they play in order to understand whether it is possible for a change of actors to take place in the course of the series which will consist of 5 seasons, each consisting of 10 episodes.
According to the announcement, the actor Paddy Considine who will play King Viserys I Targaryen is characterized as a lead, that is, a leading role, which with great confidence makes us reach the conclusion that they will start from the first novel entitled “The Rogue Prince” (included in the book Fire and Blood Vol.I). Otherwise, if the story began directly with the death of the king and the beginning of the civil war, then the actor would not be characterized as the protagonist.
Viserys’s character description: “King Viserys has been chosen by the lords of Westeros to the Grand Council of Harrenhal to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen. A warm, kind and dignified man, Viserys only wants to continue his grandfather’s legacy. But good men are not necessarily good kings.”
This description uses the past tense “is chosen” and this indicates that the story may be somewhat compressed,i.e. after the king was elected by the Council. This story was first reported in The World of Ice and Fire and then further analyzed in the book Fire and Blood, which is the material of the script and the story that we will see in the series.More specifically, this means that chronologically we are sometime after 101 AC, when the Council took place, and after 103 AC, the year that Viserys took the throne. However, the actor chosen is 47 years old, while Viserys, when he took the throne, was 26 years old, which may mean nothing, as two different actors can be used to play the same character at different stages of life.In any case, it seems that the series will start from the beginning of his reign or at least will cover it in some way.
The special case of Daemon Targaryen:
We now move on to the second starring role involving the king’s brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen, one of the most demanding roles in the series, who is a character who moves exclusively in a gray moral area, as one never knows what his true motivations are. In other words, this is the role that if you do not find the right actor you risk ruining the whole series.The role of the so-called Rogue Prince was given to actor Matt Smith, the most recognizable of all the cast announced so far, thanks to The Crown where he played Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth. The reactions that were provoked by this announcement last week were mainly about the choice of this actor for this role, both because this particular character is incredibly beloved by the fans of the book, and because the actor’s looks do not correspond to what the collective unconscious of the readers has created with their imagination from the descriptions of the book about the “divine and extraterrestrial beauty of the Targaryens”. Matt Smith is 38 years old, while in the books the Rogue Prince, when his brother becomes king,is only 22 years old, so it is a bit unlikely to see this particular actor impersonating this young version of the same character. However, it is possible – given that King Viserys is playing a leading role – that we will see him in his 30s, a few years after his brother was crowned King. Prince Daemon was 39 when he married his sister-in-law and daughter of his brother Rhaenyra, an age that matches the age of the actor. Of course, when the civil war begins, the Prince is already 48 years old, so it is more likely that a different character will be used when the series reaches the beginning of the civil war.
“Over the centuries, House Targaryen has produced both great men and monsters. Prince Daemon was both. In his day there was not a man so admired, so beloved, and so reviled in all Westeros. He was made of light and darkness in equal parts. To some he was a hero, to others the blackest of villains.”
The choice of Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra:
For the role of Rhaenyra was chosen the actress Emma D’Arcy and we can say that there were gathered as many objections in her face, but not as many as Matt Smith. Rhaenyra is of course the central character of the Civil War and the most basic female role in the series. However, comparing to Daemon Targaryen she is a somewhat more one-dimensional character, in the sense that one has no moral dilemma as to whether she is in the right or the wrong side. Her motives and goals are always clear as are her ambitions.The difficult thing in this role is not to be “imbued” by the screenwriters with the feminist ideology of our times,because let us not forget that we are in a Medieval world in terms of state organization and ideologies. Rhaenyra was the eldest daughter of King Viserys and his successor to the throne, especially when she was given the title of Princess of Dragonstone (by the standards set by the English monarchy where always the successor to the throne and heir apparent takes on the title of Prince of Wales).Of course, Rhaenyra was 8 years old then, so we will not see this specific event with this particular actress, who is 28 years old. When she first got married she was 17 years old, which also seems a bit unlikely to see the actress in question portraying a 17-year-old, but not completely unimaginable. The age of the actress fits much better with the age that was Rhaenyra when the civil war started since then she was 32 years old.
“The king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man.”
Finally, there is Alicent Hightower:
And finally comes Alicent Hightower played by 26-year-old Olivia Cooke. Alicent in the book is 9 years older than Rhaenyra, which makes us a little confused as the actresses beyond the fact that D’Arcy is a year older they seem to have an even bigger difference visually but to the opposite direction. Maybe make up etc. will work wonders of course. However, the age of the actress who was chosen as Alicent corresponds more to her newer version, when, that is, she got married at the age of 18 and before her children grew up and the civil war began, when she was 41 years old. “The daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.” In conclusion, of the 4 actors, all but Rhaenyras seem to correspond to a newer version of the characters, at least a decade before the civil war began. It is therefore more likely that we will see the story from the beginning, that is, from the first novel entitled “The Rogue Prince” (before the release of Fire and Blood Vol.I) than directly after the death of King Viserys and the beginning of the civil war. Maybe the actors after the first 2 seasons will change, unless the producers and writers prefer the method of flashbacks which is a bit tricky and might not work out effectively.If that were the case, then they would not have made an official announcement of these actors as protagonists of the series.