Matt Smith (and more) join the cast of HBO’s House of the Dragon prequel

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Matt Smith during a socially distanced dress rehearsal of 'Lungs' at The Old Vic Theatre on June 24, 2020 in London, England. The live performances, which are the first to take place following the outbreak of Covid-19, are due to take place via Zoom from June 26. (MANDATORY CREDIT: Photo by Manuel Harlan/The Old Vic via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Matt Smith during a socially distanced dress rehearsal of 'Lungs' at The Old Vic Theatre on June 24, 2020 in London, England. The live performances, which are the first to take place following the outbreak of Covid-19, are due to take place via Zoom from June 26. (MANDATORY CREDIT: Photo by Manuel Harlan/The Old Vic via Getty Images) /
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It’s official: The former Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith will indeed play a Targaryen on HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon.

HBO announced several key casting updates for its Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon this week, but by far the most exciting revelation has to be confirmation that former Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith is officially going to play a key Targaryen. Daemon Targaryen, in fact.

Prior to now, the only role casting role that had been officially announced was Paddy Considine, who will play King Viserys Targaryen. Not the Mad King version – the first Targaryen king named Viserys. Remember, House of the Dragon takes place 300 years before Game of Thrones, and is based on G.R.R. Martin’s book Fire and Blood.

Daemon is Viserys’ younger brother and heir. Their relationship is a key one within the story, and the two brothers are very different from one another. Where Viserys is kind and methodical, Daemon is temperamental and quick to solve problems with his sword. But the two are quite close, despite their frequent arguments.

HBO describes the character as “A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon.  But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…”

(Where have we heard that last bit before, right?)

As exciting as news of the Doctor Who star’s addition to the cast may be, Smith wasn’t the only new member added to House Targaryen this week.

Olivia Cooke, an actor who most audiences are likely familiar with from Bates Motel and the recent Amazon/ITV remake of period drama Vanity Fair, has signed on to play Alicent Hightower. The character is described as  “the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely 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.”

Personally, I’ve liked Cooke’s work for a long time, so here’s hoping this is the breakout role she deserves.

And finally, Emma D’Arcy has been tapped for the key role of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, one of the primary figures in the “Dance of the Dragons” (a.k.a. the Targaryen civil war) that eventually erupts over the succession to Viserys’ throne.

The character is described as “the king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider.  Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man.”

After her father’s death, Rhaenrya, Viserys’ first-born child, will face off against her half-brother Aegon II and the bloody conflict will result in much destruction, loss of life, and dragon-on-dragon action. It should make for fairly amazing TV.

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House of the Dragon is expected to go into production in 2021 for a slated 2022 release.