Fans of HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones,” prepare yourselves—like winter, prequel series “House of the Dragon” is coming. The show will debut Aug. 21 on HBO Max. Want to learn more about this highly-anticipated new series, as well as how you can get cast on it and tips from the show’s casting director? Check out our guide for the latest information.
- What is “House of the Dragon” about?
- “House of the Dragon” Cast Members
- Who is the casting director for “House of the Dragon”?
- How does the casting process work for “House of the Dragon”?
- When does filming begin for “House of the Dragon” Season 2?
- Where can you find “House of the Dragon” casting calls and auditions?
- What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “House of the Dragon”?
Martin and Ryan J. Condal created and wrote “House of the Dragon,” which is based on “A Song of Ice and Fire” scribe George R.R. Martin’s 2018 prequel novel “Fire & Blood.” Condal will serve as showrunner alongside Emmy-winning “Game of Thrones” director Miguel Sapochnik.
“House of the Dragon” takes place 300 years before the events depicted in “Game of Thrones.” The series explores the early days of House Targaryen, ancestors of “Mother of Dragons” Daenerys Targaryen, whose members have a long, storied lineage. HBO has gone to great lengths to keep plot details under wraps. Still, fans can get a taste of the show’s vibe thanks to a teaser trailer released last October.
According to Entertainment Weekly, three other “Game of Thrones” prequel series are currently in development, including “The Sea Snake,” “Ten Thousand Ships,” and “Tales of Dunk and Egg.” Another series, which was set to star Naomi Watts—and had already filmed its pilot—was canceled in October 2019.
Here is the series’ current ensemble:
- Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen
- Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower
- Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen
- Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon
- Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower
- Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon
- Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
- Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
- Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
- Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong
- Jefferson Hall as Lord Jason Lannister
- David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos
- Matthew Needham as Larys Strong
- Gavin Spokes and Lord Lyonel Strong
- Milly Alcock as Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Emily Carey as Young Alicent Hightower
Kate Rhodes James is the CD for the series. Primarily based in the U.K., James has put together the ensembles of hit shows like “Bodyguard,” “Sherlock,” and “Raised by Wolves,” as well as films including “House of Gucci” and “The Last Duel.” James told Backstage that, at the beginning of her CD career, she “just said yes to everything” in an effort to expand her knowledge and network. But in recent years, she has been able to focus more on what she likes to do—and that means looking beyond the usual pool of actors.
“I know that I want to do it when it’s something that I would want to watch,” she said. “I think a big mistake is casting something that I have no desire to watch, because that’s sort of pointless. I still see casting directors as hugely creative. We look at scripts in a way that actors look at scripts, which is: What can I do to make this come alive? What can I do to improve it, or what about me and my knowledge [can I] lend to this piece and these people to make this into something that everybody wants to watch?”
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower) noted that the audition process was “extensive.” She continued, “I don’t know how many auditions I did; I did loads. Then I was put on hold for six weeks and then sworn to secrecy, and then found out I had it, and then sworn to secrecy before the press release came out. I had best friends of mine being like, ‘What? Why didn’t you tell us?’ I was so scared that someone was going to come and abduct me and make me disappear.”
Production for “House of the Dragon” remains shrouded in secrecy—including the audition process. However, James told Backstage that she’s always on the lookout for talent, even if you haven’t applied outright to one of her projects.
“We’re constantly looking for the person that we don’t know about. We don’t want to look at the people we already know about. And I always say to actors, ‘We are your warriors,’ ” the CD explained. “Actors have no idea how much we fight on their behalf. We really do. I think that’s why so many casting directors get a bit grumpy the longer we do it, because we get overlooked so often. You think, Wow, how hard did I have to work to get that actor in that role who is now a huge success on the basis of this bit of casting, and you’re not recognized further down the line? That’s tough. We really work hard for actors, and I think actors don’t always realize that.”
The first season of “House of Dragon” is now in postproduction. Ahead of the premiere, HBO chief content officer Casey Bloys told IndieWire that it’s a “pretty good bet” that there will be more seasons to come. “Generally speaking, we usually let something air and see how it does. But obviously, we’ll make preparations ahead of time to make sure we’re ahead of the game,” he said.
The series isn’t currently casting. However, those hoping to join a project that reminds them of Westeros can always check out these fantasy gigs looking for talent. Bookmarking this roundup of HBO and Showtime casting notices is also a good idea. We also suggest keeping tabs on these nationwide opportunities. That way, when “House of Dragon” is looking for talent, you can stand out from the rest.
While nabbing an audition for larger speaking roles can prove difficult, another way to join a big production is by doing background work. The original “Game of Thrones” series, for example, leaned heavily on the community in Belfast when filming scenes that required large crowds. It’s safe to assume that “House of the Dragon” will likely cast extras in the same way for future seasons.
Background work doesn’t usually include relocation or travel stipends, so being a local is crucial for landing these kinds of gigs. For more information on how to land work and make a living as an extra, check out Backstage’s guide to background acting.
James told Backstage, “When people don’t get the job, nine times out of 10, it’s never because they’ve done anything wrong. It’s just usually not quite what the director has in mind, or they’ve met somebody else that they think would suit better.” Here are some do’s and don’ts from the CD:
- Don’t act like you are irreplaceable. Although some roles are smaller, James believes that actors should consider the overall project and what they can bring to the table. “When you read it objectively and you realize it’s a good piece and [think about] what you can contribute to that, it’ll be worthwhile. Because we’re all replaceable, including myself, so it’s the question of working or not working.”
- Do bring your authentic self to the audition. “I love actors that know who they are. They have an inner voice, and they’re not trying to please me. They bring what they want to bring in the room. Those are the sort of people I can bring in time and time again, and then they start to get the gigs, and it all snowballs from there,” she said.
- Don’t grouse about your personal life during your audition. James says that actors “shouldn’t complain about their children keeping them up all night or complain about how they got stuck on a trip,” because they are “draining the energy in the room” and limiting the time they have to showcase their talents. “My favorite actors are the ones who go, ‘Can we just do it?’ Because it’s only ever about the scene, the role,” she added. “It’s lovely to have a nice chat and all of that, but it’s all the process in the pudding. We need to see what you’re going to do with it. I always advise that, no matter how tired you are, just zip it. You don’t want to know about how tired we are. I think it’s unprofessional to be like that. Also, if you don’t like something or if you haven’t read it, don’t turn up. I’ve had actors coming in and going, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I haven’t had time to read it.’ Well, then this is a complete waste of time.”
- Do make firm decisions and commit. James wants actors to recognize that they “get back what [they] put in” during an audition. Therefore, nothing begets nothing. “I always say to actors: Make a decision about the character,” she noted. “It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong…. Because when you come into the room, you bring that into the room, and then the director will step forward and go, ‘OK, great. I love that. Let’s do it again,’ and then they very politely direct them in a completely different way. “Don’t go into a room expecting the director to answer your question, because they haven’t got time,” she continued. “Decide that [the character was] unloved as a child or that they were spoiled as hell as a child—whatever it is. You don’t have to tell us. Just make that decision. It always shows.”
Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!