Casting for House of the Dragon suggests more about when the Game of Thrones prequel takes place, as well as a possible key difference to the parent show. Based upon George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book, which chronicles the history of House Targaryen, House of the Dragon will focus on the events leading up to the civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons. While linked to Game of Thrones snd charting a key part of Westerosi history, it’ll be a considerable distance from that show, since the Dance takes place around 170 years earlier.
That alone gives some idea of the timeline, but its additional actors further fill in the gaps. House of the Dragon boasts an impressive cast, led by Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, whose death is what sparks the battle for the Iron Throne and rule of Westeros. Chief among the cast are also Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Viserys’ eldest child and heir to the Iron Throne, and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, the King’s second wife. Most intriguingly, though, younger versions of both of those characters have also been cast.
In House of the Dragon, Milly Alcock will play a younger Rhaenyra, while Emily Carey will take on the part of a young Alicent. Alcock is 18-years-old and Carey is 20, which suggests that they’ll be playing the characters as teenagers (in contrast, D’Arcy is 29 and Cookie is 27). This suggests that not only will House of the Dragon be making the two rivals closer in age (Alicent is around 11 years older than Rhaenyra in the text), but that the show will be utilizing a lot of flashbacks or, perhaps, running along more concurrent timelines. Both actors will have recurring roles, so it’s not like they’ll appear early and then have a time jump to the aged-up versions, which means House of the Dragon can span even more of the Game of Thrones timeline.
This means some events that will more likely be shown now include the wedding of Viserys and Alicent, which took place in 106 AC. Similarly, the tourney to celebrate their fifth anniversary in 111 AC would also make sense to show given this casting, as that was a key moment in building to the Dance of the Dragons. It’s where tensions started to escalate and divisions were more greatly sown, and from where the two factions of the civil war – the greens and the blacks – got their names, based on the dresses worn by Alicent and Rhaenyra. It’d make more sense to have the younger cast members for those scenes, and then Cooke and D’Arcy in the bigger storylines that form the bulk of House of the Dragon’s story. That’ll likely include The Year of the Red Spring, 120 AC, which had multiple deaths and was a major turning point, before the bulk of the Dance takes place in 129-131 AC.
It remains to be seen whether the younger cast will be used solely in flashbacks, or if there’ll be timelines running alongside each other and skipping back and forth more, though the former option would arguably make more sense for ease to follow and to keep the focus on the main cast members. Either way, it’s a difference from Game of Thrones, which only sparingly featured flashbacks, with many past events revealed through dialog rather than being shown. Given the characters more directly involved and how it all forms part of one story here, then it fits for House of the Dragon to cover a much bigger timeline, because it all feeds into why the Dance of the Dragons happens.