House Of The Dragon is back – here’s everything you need to know

UK

It doesn’t get much more hotly anticipated than the first Game Of Thrones spin-off, but House Of The Dragon gave us a brand new story in a familiar world and was largely seen to have lived up to expectations.

The first series, which launched in 2022, was critically acclaimed and won awards – and also gave HBO its largest single-day viewership for a series debut in the service’s history.

But if there was criticism, it was that it was a little slow, too much set-up and not enough action, with decades being covered throughout the season as characters grew up and sides were taken.

Has the pace ramped up for series two?

The second season kicks off where the first left off, with battle lines drawn, blood spilt and two former best friends fighting for the crown – and Sky News has spoken to the cast about what to expect.

Be warned – spoilers for series one ahead.

Team Green v Team Black

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“I feel like I was like trying to throw my body over the crack between the Targaryen family,” says Olivia Cooke, who plays Alicent Hightower – a powerful member of the Greens and whose son Aegon was hastily crowned after she claims his father named him as his heir while on his deathbed.

This effectively usurped Rhaenyra (played by Emma D’Arcy) from the Blacks, who claimed she was the rightful Queen as the King’s first-born – and if that wasn’t enough to put them at odds, the series ended with Alicent’s other son killing Rhaenyra’s.

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Cooke says ‘the chasm is well and truly opened’ this series


“The chasm is well and truly opened,” says Cooke. “And it’s about management of that and trying to make sure that we don’t descend into bloody, horrible, civil war.

“And the men around us are just so hellbent on having their names in the annals of history, and trying to mitigate that is a nightmare.”

Returning to and expanding Westeros

With the second series commissioned after the first proved to be a hit, D’Arcy says there was a different feel on set when they returned.

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“The first time around, we were trepidatious for so many reasons, not least because Westeros is a much beloved site and you need a very good reason to return there. We thought we had one, but even so, a prequel is a big ask of a fandom – you’re asking those people to sort of take a bit of a gamble with you and we knew that there was different ways that that might go.

“I think what was lovely, certainly I felt, it’s very helpful to watch the show and to have a much clearer sense of the job description, the job at hand, the context, the sorts of identity, the aesthetic of the show. But also, I felt certainly that I sort of finally got my Westerosi passport, that I was, you know, no longer a foreigner.”

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Emma D’Arcy stars as Rhaenyra Targaryen


Fans of the world of Westeros will see more of it this season, says Matt Smith who plays Rhaenyra’s husband – and uncle – Daemon Targaryen.

“The show is evolving and getting bigger and exploring different parts of Westeros, which I think is quite exciting as well. “Hopefully it ticks the boxes it’s meant to.”

Dragon-riding

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Mitchell: ‘It’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to dragon riding in real life’

While both sides of the Targaryen family have access to the ultimate weapon – dragons – wiser members are not in a hurry to use them, knowing the massive amounts of death and destruction that could be unleashed.

But it wouldn’t be much of a series of House Of The Dragon without us seeing plenty of the creatures, and we know that five new ones are being introduced.

For Ewan Mitchell, who plays Prince Aemond Targaryen – the rider of the largest dragon – it’s an opportunity like no other.

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Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen in series two of House Of The Dragon. All pictures: Sky UK/HBO


“A hundred per cent it’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to dragon riding in real life,” he says. “You are ultimately suspended, 15, 20 foot up in the air, you have a wind machine, you have a rain machine, we use something called the volume, which utilises this game engine which projects the environment around you.

“So it really gives you something to react off, you’re not just playing make-believe, and for an actor, that’s just super liberating – it’s escapism taken to another level.”

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One of the show’s most out-and-out villainous characters returning with Team Green is the duplicitous Lord Larys Strong, played by Matthew Needham.

He admits drawing inspiration for the role from a surprising source – the reality show Couples Therapy.

“You know, the doctor – Dr Orna Guralnik, I think is her name,” he says.

“Her quality of listening… I know, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to insult her, but her quality of listening – she’s very focused and attentive, so it takes everything in – was something I thought a lot about. But, I feel like I’m really disparaging her.”

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Matthew Needham plays villain Larys Strong

Facts and figures

The first series was made during the pandemic, so an already challenging production was made even more so.

This time around there were fewer restrictions in terms of tests and masks, but the filming was no still no mean feat – with the show made across England, Wales and Spain at its peak, some 1,250 crew were working at one time, and 2,430 were involved in total during the almost six-month-long shoot.

Four hundred costumes were made for key characters, while another 5,000 were created for the supporting cast.

And we know there will be at least one epic battle scene – as it needed 250 extras for weeks at a time.

House Of The Dragon returns to Sky Atlantic on 17 June

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