House of the Dragon Episode 5 marks the end of an era. Not only are we on the brink of bidding adieu to the reign of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), but we’re also about to say goodbye to several actors on the show. Their characters will remain, but with a time jump looming, there are four major players who will look a little different in Episode 6 and beyond.
Series co-creator Ryan Condal told Insider that there were plans to use multiple performers early on. "It's a conceit but I think it does work, having watched it a bunch of times," Condal said. "The people that are truly children in this are the ones that get recast. And the people that are already adults when we meet them, we age them up through hair and makeup and sometimes the actors change their voice."
Emily Carey, who plays Alicent Hightower, also revealed new details about the cast change ahead of the time jump. While on the official HBO podcast: House of the Dragon, Carey explained that she and Alcock were advised to minimize contact with the actors playing their future selves. “Me and Olivia didn’t talk at all about the character or the job, in the same way Emma and Milly didn’t, we were advised not to, because it is like we’re literally playing completely different people,” she said. “There’s a lot of growing up to do, so yeah, they treated us like different characters.” She also spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the chances of her and Alcock reprising their roles. “Of course, I would love to come back. It depends on how it’s received and where they want to take the show next. I’m just going with the flow!”
Meet the new cast members who will take on the next part of these House of the Dragon characters’ journeys.
Emma D’Arcy As Rhaenyra Targaryen
Throughout the first five episodes, the heartbeat of the show has been Milly Alcock’s turn as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the precocious and strong-headed heir to the Iron Throne. Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers, Mothering Sunday) will be picking up Alcock’s role during Rhaenyra’s marriage to Laenor Velaryon. D’Arcy will be thrown into action almost immediately; given what we know of Viserys’ health, the throne may be up for grabs imminently, which keeps Rhaenyra at the forefront of the story.
Olivia Cooke As Alicent Hightower
The queen will also look much different when Episode 6 drops, as Olivia Cooke (Slow Horses, The Sound of Metal) will take over Emily Carey’s role as Alicent Hightower. Of all the mid-season newcomers, Cooke is by far the most well-known among them. As she becomes a major player in this game of thrones, Alicent will be eager to keep her family and kingdom safe. Not only has her relationship with Rhaenyra splintered over five episodes, but her son, Aegon II, does have a claim to the throne, which puts them directly in Rhaenyra’s crosshairs.
John Macmillan As Laenor Velaryon
Theo Nate will be stepping aside as Rhaenyra’s betrothed in favor of John Macmillan (Chewing Gum, King Lear). Laenor didn’t become a central player until the end of Episode 4 when Rhaenyra agreed to marry Corlys’ son and the future head of House Velaryon. Yes, he was integral in the defeat of the Crabfeeder, but his reputation has increased immensely now that he’ll be the father of Westeros’ future king when (or if) he and Rhaenyra have heirs.
Nanna Blondell As Laena Velaryon
Laena is one of the few characters who will have several actors play her in the series. The first time audiences saw her was when Viserys was briefly considering marrying the pre-teen royal, played by Nova Foueillis-Mosé, in Episode 2. Savannah Steyn then played an older Laena in Episode 5, only for a new actor — Nanna Blondell (Partisan, The Inner Circle) — to take over the role in Episode 6. Aside from her near-betrothal to King Viserys, Laena hasn’t greatly figured into the story so far. However, her being Rhaenyra’s future sister-in-law will bring her closer to the show’s conflict.
Tom Glynn-Carney As Aegon II Targaryen
Unsurprisingly, the series is going to need a new Aegon II. Thus far, audiences have only seen Aegon as a baby, roughly around the age of a toddler. Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk, King) will be taking up the role of the Targaryen prince, dealing with a coming familial war. The 27-year-old actor’s first appearance is unknown, but he will definitely play Aegon II at some point in the first season.