House of the Dragon: Recast by Milly Alcock & Emily Carey

The first season of House of the Dragon raced through the timeline, spanning several years in just the first few episodes. Halfway through the season, however, we see a major cast change: Actors Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who played Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower respectively, will leave the series. In the future, as her characters grow further into adulthood and further away from the teenagers we met them, they will be replaced by new actors. Here’s everything you need to know about the big change.

Why were Milly Alcock and Emily Carey recast in ‘House of the Dragon’?

The time jump between the actual “cast change episodes” (season 5 and season 6) is about a decade, enough time that it makes sense to do the rewrite at this point. While this shift itself isn’t necessarily a huge time jump, the show will most likely follow its characters well into their 40s if following the timeline of the Fire and Blood book. As a result, Alcock and Carey would be far too young to later play their characters in their characters.

Which actors replaced Milly Alcock and Emily Carey in ‘House of the Dragon’?

In the first episodes of the show, Rhaenyra and Alicent are in their teens and (in Alicent’s case, at least) in their early 20s, consistent with the actors’ ages: Alcock is 22, while Carey is 19.

After the decade-long time skip, Rhaenyra and Alicent are played by Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively. At this point in the story, Rhaenyra is in his late 20s to early 30s and Alicent is well into his 30s. Again, this aligns with the real-life ages of the older actors: D’Arcy is 30 and Cooke is 28. It’s easier to cast these actors as needed “aging” than making them old enough to be believable teenagers, so the double casting makes sense.

The approach is similar to how other TV shows have dealt with time-lapse cast changes when needed. For example, the second season of The Crown ends in 1964 and the third season begins just a few months later. During this time, however, the cast transitions to significantly older actors to play the characters for the next few decades of the story. With shows that span long periods of time, it’s usually inevitable that there will have to be a cast change at some point, and it’s just a matter of finding the most seamless storytelling point for it.

Will Milly Alcock and Emily Carey return to House of the Dragon?

Although the main cast has since changed, it may not be the last we see Alcock and Carey’s versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent. In an interview with Complex, Alcock didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to the role of Rhaenyra.

“I have no idea what the future will bring. I don’t even know what I’m doing next week, so I don’t know,” she said when asked about returning to the show. “[The show] was life changing in every way. I feel like I’ve changed as an actor and as a person. I have changed physically. I’ve moved all over the world and now live in London. It opened up a potential career for me. It was completely mind-blowing, incredibly challenging and infinitely rewarding in every way. But it was a struggle.”

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