'House of the Dragon' Cast on All the Dragons in the 'GOT' Prequel Series (Exclusive)

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While the Game of Thrones spinoff, House of the Dragon, is focused on House Targaryen and the political intrigue surrounding who sits on the Iron Throne, there’s another fiery element to the prequel series that cannot be overlooked: the dragons.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, the series, which is set 200 years before the events of the original series, follows the in-fighting and drama surrounding a battle of succession. It’s also set at a time when dragons -- and there are 17 in total -- were massive and formidable assets, all but guaranteeing the Targaryens’ continued reign over King’s Landing in Westeros. 

As co-creator and executive producer Ryan Condal tells ET, “They’re integral to the show. They’re sort of inextricably linked to this story, particularly where it goes.” While it’s unlikely the series will see all 17 appear on screen (“I can’t promise that”), Condal says “that you’ll see a majority of them.” 

“The trick with this is to use the dragons as a storytelling device. It’s not just raw spectacle and dragons for the sake of dragons. They are a part of the story, they are the source of Targaryen power and supremacy, they’re a tool of deterrents and of fear, and eventually, they become a tool of war,” the showrunner continues. “And how those tools of war are employed is a big part of how the story is told and where the story goes.”

He adds, “Insofar as that goes, the dragons play an extricable part in the show. You will see them being used to drive the story forward and not just flying around because we can.” 

With that said, here’s a look at the dragons expected to be seen on House of the Dragon and a breakdown of their relationships with their respective dragonriders, as detailed by stars Matt Smith (Daemon Targaryen), Milly Alcock (Rhaenyra Targaryen) and others. 

House of the Dragon
HBO

King Viserys Targaryen
Dragon:
Balerion

Dead by the start of the House of the Dragon, Balerion (aka Black Dread) was ridden by several Targaryen family members before Viserys (Paddy Considine) became the last to take the reins.

While Viserys has reverence for the creatures, “he has a completely different relationship with them [compared] to the other Targaryens,” Considine says. “Viserys fears the power of the dragons, personally… They have the potential to destroy the world. These things, they’re like nuclear weapons.” 

“So, Viserys is very, very responsible about them. Also, he understands that without them the Targaryens would not be the power that they are at this point in history,” the actor continues. “So, he’s not a silly man and he understands it. He just doesn’t use it. He’s not a tyrant… He fears their potential and that in the wrong hands, it could cause massive destruction.”  

As for the Balerion skull, which was first seen in Game of Thrones before reappearing in the prequel, co-creator and executive producer Miguel Sapochnik explains the great detail that went into making one that more realistic on screen. 

“The thing that I hated more than anything else was the Balerion skull in the original show. I used to walk past it and think, ‘That’s not a f**king skull.’ It would [make] me so mad. And so finally, when it came that we had to have a Balerion skull, I was like, ‘I can do this,’” he says, revealing that he ended up designing the updated version of the skull that appears on House of the Dragon. 

And then Condal inadvertently upset Sapochnik after the new one was made. “They built the skull and then they put it up and I walked in front of it and I was like, ‘This is great. It looks just like the original.’ And he’s like, ‘No, it’s not anything like the original,’” Condal recalls, before seeing photos comparing the two. “And I finally understood what was bothering Miguel. Our skull is very cool.” 

“And black, because dragon bone is actually black,” Sapochnik adds.  

House of the Dragon
HBO

Prince Daemon Targaryen
Dragon: Caraxes

A notorious warrior who has been in charge of the King’s Watch, Daemon (Smith) is ruthless and has a chaotic temperament. And, unlike some members of his family, he is unafraid to wield the wrath of his dragon when needed. 

“Well, the dragon itself is sort of cantankerous loner -- a bit like Damon in many respects. He’s obtuse, he’s difficult, but if you’re in, you’re in and if you’re out, you're out,” Smith says. “And I think what’s beautiful about their relationship is there’s a real deep affection between the two of them, dragon and dragonrider.”

He adds that Caraxes is what Daemon is like. “When he’s very close to you, he’d do anything for you. He’s got a very, very deep sense of loyalty, particularly to his dragon.” 

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
Dragon: Syrax

As a passionate dragonrider, it’s not surprising that a young Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock, while Emma D’Arcy portrays an older version) has more interest in taking the air with Syrax than contemplating the issues of the kingdom overheard as she serves wine to her father, King Viserys, and his inner circle. 

“What’s nice is that Syrax and Rhaenyra kind of share a temperament. They’re both volatile and unpredictable and stubborn,” D’Arcy says. “I think for Rhaenyra, who I think is, from a very young age, actually grappling with the legacy of her family and where she fits into that story, the dragons are really bound up with Targaryen identity.” 

She adds, “Obviously, on the one hand, they are a kind of nuclear weapon that has allowed this family to hold power for such a long time. Simultaneously, that becomes emblematic in itself of what it is to be of this cloth.”

Alcock, meanwhile, reveals that Sapochnik told her “they started basing the personalities of the dragons off of animals and that Syrax was based on an eagle, which [she] thought was really interesting.” 

Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
Dragon: Meleys

While Rhaenys (Eve Best) is known as the “Queen Who Never Was,” it doesn’t take away from the fact that she herself is also a dragonrider. Her dragon, Meleys, is also known as the Red Queen because of her scarlet hue. 

While the actress hadn’t seen any footage of herself as Rhaenys riding Meleys, she described the surreal experience of filming scenes with the CGI creature. “Well, it was weirdly alive,” Best says. “You know, it kind of had a strange life of its own because it was a big – I don’t know how to say it – but it was a big machine and it made these amazing noises.”

She adds, “I was kind of in love with it by the end.” 

House of the Dragon
HBO

In addition to Caraxes and Syrax, who have made multiple appearances so far in season 1, Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate), the son of the Sea Snake, was seen riding Seasmoke in episode 3. 

While Meleyes presumably will appear later on, it’s unclear which of the others will fly through the series. But Condal teases that “you'll see a plurality of them,” with nine distinct dragons reportedly confirmed by Sapochnik. With that in mind, the other dragonriders on House of the Dragon include:

  • Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) whose dragon was Sunfyre, also known as the Golden
  • Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell and Leo Ashton) and Lady Laena Velaryon (Savannah Steyn, Nanna Blondell and Nova Fouellis-Mose) who both rode Vhagar
  • Baela Targaryen (Bethany Antonia and Shani Smethurst) who rode the young Moondancer
  • Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban and Evie Allen) whose dragon was Dreamfyre
  • Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett and Leo Hart) who rode Vermax
  • Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault and Harvey Sadler) whose dragon was Arrax
  • Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell and Eva Ossei-Gerning) who rode Morning

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.

 

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