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The House of the Dragon showrunner has released a small, but fiery, tease of what fans can expect from season two of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel.
“You’re going to meet five new dragons,” co-creator Ryan Condal said at an FYC screening of the hit series in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Condal added that the upcoming season would start filming “very shortly” in 2023.
Condal was joined by eight castmembers of House of the Dragon, along with George R.R. Martin, his co-creator and author of the fantasy novels on which both Game of Thrones and the new drama show are based. The actors on the stage included Rhys Ifans (who plays Otto Hightower), Eve Best (Rhaenys Targaryen), Steve Toussaint (Corlys Velaryon), Fabien Frankel (Criston Cole), Matt Smith (Daemon Targaryen), Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), Paddy Considine (King Viserys/Targaryen) and Emily Carey (young Alicent Hightower).
Following a screening of season one’s eighth episode, “The Lord of the Tides,” the panel engaged in a Q&A session with Josh Gad, who made an odd but amusing fit as moderator. “If you’re wondering what I’m doing here, I’m asking myself the same question,” Gad teased.
“This is a favorite of mine. Of course, I’m hardly objective,” Martin told the crowd when announcing the episode. “I thought it was really powerful. This guy [Condal] has an amazing writing staff. Because if you read my book Fire & Blood, which you should, it’s a fake history. So there are a lot of the details that are in this that are absolutely wonderful and moving that are not in the book. They added stuff, and they added good stuff, which is important.”
Of the pressure to follow HBO’s previous smash hit Game of Thrones, which Martin was quick to point out holds the record for the most Emmy Award wins of any fictional series, the author instead turned to the questions still looming over the impending, long-anticipated final books in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Fans’ outrage over the stories’ lack of closure to this day trails him.
“The pressure of trying to follow the original series is nothing compared to the pressure of trying to finish the novel,” Martin said. “That has me sleepless at nights. The show? That’s Ryan’s problem.”
But Martin made it clear how impressed he is, not just with how Condal adapted his novel, but also with the creative additions to his skeletal material. “Fire & Blood is an outline, and you can’t present an outline on television. So it has to be filled in. And that’s where I think Ryan and his staff of writers have done a marvelous job.”
From the point of view of the cast, Considine, meanwhile, reminisced about the acting decisions that shaped King Viserys’ now-famous walk to the Iron Throne in episode eight. “He’s been bandaged and you see his emaciated body and the amount of pain he was in. It just made me rethink that walk to the Throne because he’s in such a terrible state,” the English actor said. “I thought, ‘That’s going to be some monumental walk through the Red Keep to the Throne.’ So when I came to shoot, [I thought], ‘I’m going to really take my time, I’m going to really struggle and make these people wait.’”
Gad peppered Cooke and Carey with questions about how they portrayed the same character, Alicent Hightower, at different ages without ever really meeting.
“Yeah, we didn’t speak,” Carey deadpanned.
“Right. There’s a nasty little rumor actually that I want to clear up that we were, like, forcibly kept apart,” Cooke interjected. Untrue, the actresses maintained.
The assembled cast and crew finished the discussion by talking about their favorite moments while shooting season one, as the chat soon devolved into the silly jokes they played on each other.
“To be honest, we are a set of gigglers,” Frankel said of the chemistry among the stars. “It just took like a glint in someone’s eye to sort of set everyone off. So anyway, yeah, there was a lot of laughter for such a serious show.”
Martin, who is set to release The Winds of Winter any day now, had a different take on the working environment.
“Well, sadly, I wasn’t there for any of this fun. I was back in Santa Fe working on this novel,” Martin said. He concluded that his greatest joy in watching House of the Dragon has been seeing what were once just “strange, disturbing visions in my head” come to life on the screen.
“That,” he said, “was thrilling.”
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