House of the Dragon: Release date and meet the cast of the Game of Thrones spin off

It's been a long time coming, but the prequel House of Dragon is SO nearly here...

Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith in a still from House of the Dragon
(Image credit: Sky)

Game of Thrones fans will be happy to learn that a release date for the prequel, House of the Dragon, has been confirmed. But many will be wondering, when can we watch it and who’s in the cast?

Game of Thrones dramatically ended in 2019, but not long after, it was confirmed that a prequel was in the works. Make-up effects artist Barrie Gower has teased of the new series: "The scripts are incredible. They're really incredible. And it's going to be very exciting to see how that's received. But it's really well-written, and there are some fantastic stories in there.”

Starring a former Doctor Who and other English acting heavyweights, the series is set to be just as action-packed as the original fantasy series. So after you've binged the likes of The Midwich Cuckoos (opens in new tab), The Staircase (opens in new tab) and You Don't Know Me (opens in new tab) - be sure to read up about this next watch show.

 What is the release date for House of the Dragon?

House of the Dragon will premiere on 21 August 2022. Like its predecessor Game of Thrones, the HBO series will be available on Sky Atlantic and you’ll also be able to watch it on NOW.

HBO first announced that there would be a prequel to Game of Thrones back in 2019. At the 2020 Television Critics Association press tour, HBO programming president Casey Bloys estimated that House of the Dragon would arrive in two years. "My guess is sometime in 2022," he said.

The official Game of Thrones Twitter account later confirmed that production took place in 2021. Filming wrapped up in February 2022 and a teaser trailer was released three months later, on 5th May.

 What is the storyline of House of the Dragon?

House of the Dragon is based on the Game of Thrones book Fire & Blood: the Targaryen Civil War by author George R. R. Martin. Known to fans as the Dance of Dragons – this will be the focus of the prequel.

Author George said of the prequel: "For what it's worth, those who have read Fire & Blood will realise it contains enough materials for a dozen shows. I can say that there will be dragons. Everyone else has said that, so why not me?”

And part of the synopsis on Martin's website reads: "Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen - the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria - took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart." 

Fire and Blood by George R.R Martin (Paperback) - £4.50 | Amazon (opens in new tab)

"A masterpiece," hails The Sunday Times. The tale of the Targaryens’ bloody rule is explored in this George R.R. Martin prequel. Perfect reading for Game of Thrones fans.

 Meet the cast of House of the Dragon:

Paddy Considine plays King Viserys Targaryen

Viserys was chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather's legacy. Paddy is known for his roles in The World’s End, Dead Man’s Shoes and Peaky Blinders (opens in new tab). The actor recently revealed how his mother was the inspiration behind his role as King Viserys, saying: “When I played Viserys Targaryen, I just played my mum, you know. That’s what I played – my mother.” 

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Matt Smith plays Prince Daemon Targaryen

Deamon is the younger brother to King Viserys and heir to the throne. A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. Matt, who has also had starring roles in The Crown and Doctor Who, has said of House of Dragon: “I think it's really different to the original series. I mean it has to be. The original series was its own thing and it was, it was so brilliant and, and sort of left a mark in a way that it would be impossible to repeat.” 

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Olivia Cooke plays Lady Alicent Hightower

The daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most beautiful woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen. Olivia, who is known for her roles in Vanity Fair and Bates Motel, said of the series: “The scripts I read were so, so, so, good.” 

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Rhys Ifans plays Ser Otto Hightower

The Hand of the King, Ser Otto loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne. Rhys has also starred in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1, Notting Hill and Anonymous. Keeping coy about House of the Dragon, Rhys said last year: :Very exciting… I don’t want to give too much away.” 

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Emma D’Arcy plays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

The king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Actor Emma, who is also known for Hanna and Truth Seekers, has remained tight-lipped about her latest role, but she was spotted filming with Matt Smith on a Cornwall beach in September 2021.

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Supporting cast

  • Steve Toussaint (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mutant Chronicles) plays Lord Corlys Velaryon/"The Sea Snake"
  • Eve Best (The King’s Speech, Nurse Jackie) plays Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
  • Fabien Frankel (The Serpent) plays Ser Criston Cole
  • Sonoya Mizuno (La La Land, Annihilation) plays Mysaria
  • Milly Alcock (Upright, Furlough) plays Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
  • Bethany Antonia (Stay Close, Get Even) plays Baela Targaryen
  • Phoebe Campbell (Midsomer Murders, Home from Home) plays Rhaena Targaryen
  • Emily Carey (Wonder Woman, Where Is Anne Frank) plays Young Alicent Hightower
  • Harry Collett (Dunkirk, Dolittle) plays Jacaerys Velaryon
  • Ryan Corr (Holding the Man, The Secrets She Keeps) plays Ser Harwin "Breakbones" Strong
  • Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk, The King) plays Prince Aegon Targaryen
  • Jefferson Hall (Halloween, Sherlock Holmes) plays twins Ser Tyland Lannister and Lord Jason Lannister
  • David Horovitch (The Young Victoria) plays Grand Maester Mellos
  • Wil Johnson (Waking the Dead, Clocking Off) plays Ser Vaemond Velaryon
  • John Macmillan (King Lear) plays Ser Laenor Velaryon
  • Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Rambo) plays Ser Harrold Westerling
  • Ewan Mitchell (The Last Kingdom, Trigger Point (opens in new tab)) plays Prince Aemond Targaryen
  • Theo Nate (Time) plays Ser Laenor Velaryon
  • Matthew Needham (The Ritual, Sherlock) plays Larys Strong
  • Bill Paterson (Miss Potter, Kingdom of Heaven) plays Lord Lyman Beesbury
  • Phia Saban (The Last Kingdom) plays Princess Helaena Targaryen
  • Gavin Spokes (The Ipcress File, Hitmen) plays Lord Lyonel Strong
  • Savannah Steyn (Crawl, The Tunnel) plays Lady Laena Velayron

Will any Game of Thrones characters appear in House of the Dragon? 

Seeing as House of the Dragon is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, it’s highly unlikely that any characters will appear. There’s also a lengthy new cast that didn’t appear in Game of Thrones, so we can safely make the assumption that there will be no returning characters.

However, it is possible that we'll see the ancestors of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons and other families that we’re more familiar with. Depending on exactly how much ground is covered we could also see original Westerosi conquerors Aegon, Visenya and Rhaenys Targaryen, as hinted by early casting announcements, though this hasn't been confirmed.

Another familiar face we might see again is dragon Balerion the Black Dread, Aegon’s mount whose skull resided in the dungeon’s of King’s Landing throughout most of Game of Thrones, and who was "historically" ridden by King Viserys I at one point. 

What time period does House of the Dragon take place in? 

The events in House of the Dragon happened during 129 - 131 AC, approximately 170 years before the events of Game Of Thrones took place (which was between 298 and 305 AC).

It's possible the show will start as early as 120 AC. Also known as the Year of the Red Spring, this was a momentous one in Viserys' time as King, including the deaths of Rhaenyra's husband, Laenor Velaryon, and the Hand of the King, Lyonel Strong. These events would help lead to the Dance of the Dragons, so could be a good starting point. Or, it could pick up around 128 AC, in the last year of the King's life, allowing him to die at the end of season 1 to kick the war into motion.

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Do you need to watch Game of Thrones before House of the Dragon? 

No, you do not need to watch Game of Thrones before watching House of the Dragon. As it is set over a century before, it is a story in its own right and will make sense without having watched Game of Thrones.

However, it might enhance your experience of watching the prequel if you have some insight into the characters and the settings.

Alternatively, you could read the book, Fire & Blood, to get a good understanding of the storyline before watching.

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Robyn is a freelance celebrity journalist with ten years experience in the industry. While studying for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at London College of Communication, she did internships at Now and Heat magazines. After graduating, she landed a job at Star magazine, where she worked her way up to features editor. She then worked at Future as Deputy Celebrity Content Director across Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home magazines.