How to Get Cast on HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’

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Photo Source: Theo Whitman/HBO

“House of the Dragon” fans, prepare yourselves—Season 2 of the hit “Game of Thrones” prequel is coming to HBO on June 16. A pair of dueling trailers promise even more betrayal, bloodshed, and, of course, dragons. 

For those who hope to land a role in the popular “Game of Thrones” spinoff, we have good news. Ahead of Season 2’s premiere, HBO officially greenlit the series for another season. To learn more about getting cast in future seasons of “House of Dragon,” keep reading. 

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What is “House of the Dragon” about?

Co-created by Ryan J. Condal and George R.R. Martin, “House of the Dragon” is a prequel to “Game of Thrones” that takes place 200 years before the events of the original series. The show is based on Martin’s 2018 book “Fire & Blood,” which traces the long, storied, lineage of the Targaryens, the house that ruled the kingdom Westeros for hundreds of years.

Season 1 focused on the growing rift within the family following the decline and death of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine). Though he named his firstborn daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), as his heir, the Iron Throne ultimately went to her younger half-brother Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney).

By the season finale, the battle lines were clearly drawn: on one side, the Blacks, led by Rhaenyra and her husband (and uncle) Daemon (Matt Smith); on the other, the Greens, led by Aegon’s mother, Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), and her father, Otto (Rhys Ifans), who served as the Hand of the King for both Viserys and Aegon. The second season will trace the civil war within House Targaryen, known as the Dance of Dragons.

But “House of the Dragon” is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other “Game of Thrones” spinoffs in development, including “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight,” based on Martin’s “Tales of Dunk and Egg”; “10,000 Ships,” which takes place 1,000 years before the original series; and two animated shows, “Nine Voyages” and “The Golden Empire.” (A previously announced “Game of Thrones” sequel centered on Kit Harington’s Jon Snow is no longer going forward.)

Who’s in the cast of “House of the Dragon”?

The ensemble of Season 2 includes:

  • Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
  • Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen
  • Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower
  • Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower
  • Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon
  • Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon
  • Tom Glynn-Carney as King Aegon II Targaryen
  • Ewan Mitchell as Prince Aemond Targaryen
  • Bethany Antonia as Lady Baela Targaryen
  • Harry Collett as Prince Jacaerys Velaryon
  • Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
  • Phoebe Campbell as Lady Rhaena Targaryen
  • Phia Saban as Queen Helaena Targaryen
  • Anthony Flanagan as Ser Steffon Darklyn
  • Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
  • Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
  • Matthew Needham as Larys Strong
  • Jordon Stevens as Elinda Massey
  • Paul Kennedy as Lord Jasper “Ironrod” Wylde
  • Jefferson Hall as Ser Tyland Lannister and Lord Jason Lannister
  • David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos
  • Gavin Spokes and Lord Lyonel Strong
  • Simon Russell Beale as Ser Simon Strong
  • Freddie Fox as Ser Gwayne Hightower
  • Gayle Rankin as Alys Rivers
  • Abubakar Salim as Alyn of Hull
  • Clinton Liberty as Addam of Hull
  • Jamie Kenna as Ser Alfred Broome
  • Kieran Bew as Hugh
  • Tom Bennett as Ulf
  • Tom Taylor as Lord Cregan Stark
  • Vincent Regan as Ser Rickard Thorne

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Who’s the casting director for “House of the Dragon”?

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 like “House of Gucci” and “The Last Duel.”

James told Backstage that at the beginning of her career, she “just said yes to everything” in an effort to expand her knowledge and network. In recent years, she’s been able to focus more on what she likes to do: looking beyond the usual pool of Hollywood actors to find fresh, up-and-coming talent.

“I know that I want to do [a project] 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?”

James is always keeping an eye out for new talent, even if an actor hasn’t applied 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,” she said. 

She reminds auditioners that CDs are on your side. “I always say to actors, ‘We are your warriors.’ Actors have no idea how much we fight on their behalf. We really do,” she explained. “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?”

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How does the casting process work for “House of the Dragon”?

In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Cooke said that auditions for “House of the Dragon” were “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.”

D’Arcy told the Hollywood Reporter that they and their team embarked on a monthslong audition process that began in the early days of the pandemic. Self-tapes called for multiple hairstyle changes—and lots of dedication. 

“I had a bag of hair in my color from another job, and me and my partner, we literally stuck it to my head, which took about two hours every time I self-taped,” D’Arcy said. “At the end of that, I did a four-hour in-person audition, and then I didn’t hear anything.

“I feel like, by the end of three months, I had taped every scene in the show—because they took a punt on me, I guess, in that I couldn’t bring an audience,” they continued. “I just remember that it was good for a while, and then it was awful. And then after a few hours, they said, ‘Great, you can go home and get drunk; we’ll be in touch.’ Then [Season 1 co-showrunner] Miguel [Sapochnik] came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Can we do one more?’ ”

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Where can I find “House of the Dragon” casting calls and auditions?

The series isn’t currently casting. But if you’re looking to join a similar project, check out these fantasy gigs that are searching for talent. It’s also a good idea to bookmark this roundup of HBO and Showtime casting notices and our guide to auditioning for HBO.

An easy way to join a major production is by doing background work. For more information on how to land gigs as an extra, check out our guide to background acting.

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What are the best tips for landing a role on “House of the Dragon”?

“When people don’t get the job, nine times out of 10, it’s never because they’ve done anything wrong,” James told us. “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 the CD’s major do’s and don’ts.

  • Do remember that every role is important to the bigger picture: Although some parts are smaller, James encourages actors to consider what they can bring to the project as a whole, regardless of their place in it. “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 your 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.”
  • Don’t grouse about your personal life in the room. James says 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 and the role. 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 [your audition]. I always advise that, no matter how tired you are, just zip it. You don’t want to know about how tired we are.”
  • Do commit to your choices. “Make a decision about the character. 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. Decide that [your 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!

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