House Of The Dragon Explains Why Rhaenyra & Alicent's Recasts Will Happen

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4, "King of the Narrow Sea." House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4 better explains why Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Alicent Hightower’s (Emily Carey) actors will be recast before the initial run of episodes is even finished. Rhaenyra and Alicent’s once sweet, now strained relationship has been at the very heart of House of the Dragon’s episodes in the first half of the season, with Alcock and Carey’s performances a big reason why the characters have worked so well, with each doing great, nuanced work to make them feel sympathetic, likeable, and complex. Unfortunately, that’s all come with one major caveat to it, which is the already confirmed recasting of Rhaenyra and Alicent to come later in House of the Dragon season 1.


Rhaenyra and Alicent’s recastings loom large over proceedings in a couple of ways, both because it will mean a change in story, but also because it will be difficult to lose Alcock and Carey. The pair have clearly resonated with audiences and earned a lot of praise, but there are currently no plans for them to return in the future after the recasts happen and Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke step into the roles, though it is possible (such as with flashbacks or dream sequences). House of the Dragon’s time jumps have laid the groundwork for how the actor changes can happen, but it’s season 1, episode 4 that really begins explain why it needs to.

Related: House Of The Dragon Is Making Alicent & Rhaenyra's Recasting Issue Worse

Why Milly Alcock & Emily Carey Will Be Replaced As Rhaenyra & Alicent

Rhaenyra and Alicent together reading

House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4 further complicates the relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent, showing the affection they still clearly have for one another while also displaying the chasm opening between them cannot be reversed. Their interactions across the episode are a great highlight of where they used to be, where they are now, and a tease for where they will end up. Ultimately, these characters will be on opposite sides of the Targaryen civil war, the Dance of the Dragons, and not just by happenstance but active involvement and leadership. For now, House of the Dragon is making both characters seem more tragic and allowing viewers to empathize with them, but that will change to a degree when the war begins and they each do terrible things. Because these characters will go from people audiences can root for to ones they really should not, and because the sense of how much they have been changed and warped by the passage of time and their own rivalry and bitter feelings plays into that, then it makes sense Alicent and Rhaenyra would be recast.

Who Will Play The Older Rhaenyra & Alicent In House Of The Dragon

Rhaenyra Targaryen fighting with Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon

When Rhaenyra and Alicent are recast in House of the Dragon, it will see Emma D’Arcy replace Milly Alcock, while Olivia Cooke takes over from Emily Carey. D’Arcy has previously appeared in Wanderlust and Truth Seekers, while Cooke’s major credits include Ready Player One and Sound of Metal. The different Rhaenyra and Alicent actors didn't interact on set, allowing each to keep their portrayal and interpretation unique, and it’ll be fascinating to see what they bring to the role that’s different and if there remains a visible through line between the separate versions.

When Will House Of The Dragon’s Rhaenyra & Alicent Actors Change?

House of the dragon time jump rhaenyra alicent

Although exactly when Rhaenyra and Alicent will be recast in House of the Dragon is unknown, it is going to be very soon. It was confirmed prior to the season starting that the major 10-year time jump, which will be where the actors switch, is going to take place around the mid-season point. That makes sense for House of the Dragon’s story, allowing it to pivot into more directly setup for the Dance of the Dragons and build a real sense of momentum towards the finale. House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4 doesn’t feel like a farewell to these versions just yet, though, and there are more scenes with the younger cast confirmed to happen from trailers and set photos (such as with Rhaenyra and Laenor Velaryon together).

Similarly, both Alcock and Carey are listed for episode 5 on IMDb, whereas D'Arcy and Cooke are credited from episode 6 onwards, but that’s not confirmation. Still, with those factors and considering co-showrunners Miguel Sapochnik is directing episode 6, pointing to it as a key installment, then presumably Rhaenyra and Alicent will be recast either at the end of House of the Dragon season 1, episode 5 or the beginning of episode 6.

Related: Why Rhaenyra Is So Upset About Viserys & Alicent (Does She Love Her?)

What Milly Alcock & Emily Carey Are Doing After House of the Dragon

Rhaenyra and Alicent praying

Prior to joining House of the Dragon's cast, neither Milly Alcock nor Emily Carey were well-known names: the former's credits mostly include Australia TV shows, such as The Gloaming and Reckoning, while the latter's feature BBC's Casualty and Get Even. Alcock can next be seen in Upright season 2, which is an Australian drama series starring Tim Minchin, and Carey's next role is among the voice cast of The Canterville Ghost, an animated adaptation of Oscar Wilde's story that will also star Stephen Fry. Given their performances, though, it's likely many more projects will be heading their way.

House of the Dragon releases new episodes Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.

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