George R.R. Martin and the cast of HBO’s “House of the Dragon” came out for the “Game of Thrones” prequel’s first-ever San Diego Comic-Con panel Saturday, revealing a few significant tidbits about the show ahead of its Aug. 21 premiere. Though they were largely tightlipped about the plot, Martin, Ryan Condal, who is co-showrunning the series with Miguel Sapochnik, and the stars dropped several interesting facts about the Targaryen-centric show — including the work that’s already being done on Season 2.
Here are five key takeaways from the series’ Hall H presentation.
1. “House of the Dragon” Will Address Westeros’ History of Misogyny
“What is it about Westeros that they’re just so anti-a-queen?” a moderator asked the panel.
“My books are fantasies, obviously, but I do follow history a lot,” Martin said. “I get inspiration from history and I take elements from history and turn it up to 11 — obligatory ‘Spinal Tap’ reference — or to 111. ‘Game of Thrones,’ as many people observed, was based loosely during the English’s War of the Roses. This show was based on an earlier period in medieval history called The Anarchy. I pilfered freely from real history — Henry I, the king of England, when his only legitimate son drowned while trying to cross the English Channel, was left with only one legitimate child, which was his daughter Matilda. And he named her his heir and he made the lords of the kingdom swear felty to her. And then some years later he died and most of the lords of the kingdom forgot about that oath and said, ‘Oh, it doesn’t apply,’ because here comes her cousin Stephen who crosses the channel quickly and steals the treasury and gets himself crowned king and they entered a period called the anarchy.”
Martin notes that period was “horrible and bloody” and “House of the Dragon” will mirror that in its storyline between Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) and Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock), who are vying for King Viserys I Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) Iron Throne.
2. George R.R. Martin Didn’t Meet the Cast Until Comic-Con
Martin has been very careful to keep himself very socially distanced during the COVID-19 pandemic, staying at home in Santa Fe, N.M.. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he hadn’t met the cast or visited the “House of the Dragon” set. Still, it was exciting to find out that Comic-Con marks Martin’s first time meeting the stars of his eagerly anticipated adaptation.
3. Production Is Already Preparing for Season 2
HBO has yet to officially give “House of the Dragon” a Season 2 renewal, but Condal confirmed during the Comic-Con panel that production is already working on dragons that viewers won’t even see in Season 1, which are meant for Season 2 plots. He also joked they have a “severed head budget” specifically for Season 2.
4. The Actresses Who Play the Young and Older Versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent Didn’t Work On the Characters Together
“House of the Dragon” features two sets of actresses playing the leading roles of Viserys’ first born child Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock) and Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke and Emily Carey) with the story beginning with the best friends as young women and moving forward in time to their adulthood. Alcock and Carey revealed during the panel that they did not spend time with their counterparts in order to build the characters while making the series, largely being left to develop them independent from their older versions.
5. George R.R. Martin Won’t Be Doing a Cameo Until He Finishes “The Winds of Winter”
If you were hoping for Martin to finally make his long-awaited on-screen debut in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” franchise, you’ll have to wait longer because he won’t be appearing in the first season of “House of the Dragon.” In fact, he says he won’t be appearing at all until he wraps up his No. 1 priority: completing “The Winds of Winter.”
“You may not know but there’s this book that I’m writing, it’s a little late,” Martin said, to the laughter of the crowd in the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H. “I don’t see me visiting a set or doing anything until I finish and deliver that book.”