House of the Dragon Actors Look Very Different in Real-Life to Their On-Screen Characters

Mon Sep 12 2022

Following on from the major success of the Game of Thrones TV franchise (we won’t talk about season eight), House of the Dragon sure has had some big shoes to fill. We’re all familiar with the GoT cast at this point, but the cast of House of the Dragon is still being revealed to us as we progress through the series.

Take a look at the TV show characters compared to the actors in real life, and see just how different some of them are from their on-screen counterparts. If you’ve been wondering why some of them seem really familiar, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you’ll want to know about the up-and-coming stars of the hottest HBO show.

Ser Criston Cole | Fabien Frankel

Ser Criston Cole is a common-born knight who’s busy stealing hearts both on and off the show. We’ve seen him fight – and win – against the formidable Prince Daemon, and it’s not gone noticed by Princess Rhaenyra. Criston hails from House Cole, and his father was a steward of the Lord of Blackhaven, but he’s undoubtedly got a big future ahead of him on the show.

British-born actor Fabien has had roles in things like the 2021 series The Serpent and the 2019 movie Last Christmas, but House of the Dragon is his first real breakthrough role. He played a lead part in 2019s NYPD Blue as Theo Sipowicz, which until now had been the most significant role of his acting career. But he’s loving every moment of being a sword-swinging knight, telling Collider, “I felt a bit like Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale.”

Queen Aemma Arryn | Sian Brooke

Queen Aemma doesn’t have the longest screen time on the show, but her presence is undoubtedly felt throughout later episodes. Wife to King Viserys, her duty to her husband, unfortunately, results in her downfall as she passes away during a tortuous birthing scene. She finally gives the King what he so desperately wanted – a son – but King Viserys finds himself in mourning for more than just his beloved wife.

You might have seen British actress Sian Brooke in a number of productions, her most famous acting jobs having been her role as Eurus Holmes in the detective TV show Sherlock or her portrayal of Laura in the sitcom All About George. Aside from her TV work, Sian was the lead actress in the highly-acclaimed independent 2020 movie Body of Water, which saw her transform her appearance to play the part of an anorexic woman. Sian sure knows how to commit to a role.

King Viserys Targaryen | Paddy Considine

King Viserys has found himself in the fortunate position of ruling over Westoros, but his power is slowly slipping through his fingers. Having found himself without a wife or a male heir to sit on the iron throne upon his passing, he quickly rectified that situation. But due to several reasons, finds himself unable to declare his newborn son next in line of succession. And he didn’t help family relationships when he wed his daughter’s BFF, Lady Alicent Hightower.

English actor, screenwriter, and director Paddy Considine plays the part of the aging King of Westoros, but he’s enjoyed an illustrious career both on and off-screen. Aside from starring in things like Peaky Blinders and Hot Fuzz, he’s also won a bunch of awards for his directorial debut Dog Altogether, which saw him take home a BAFTA for his writing, too. Aside from that, Paddy’s also made a name for himself in the music industry as the frontman of the band, Riding The Low.

Mysaria | Sonoya Mizuno

Mysaria is one of the non-Targaryen characters who we regularly see accompanying Prince Daemon. She is a pleasure house worker who comes from the city of Lys, but she’s more than that to the Targaryen prince. Mysaria is his trusted confidant, and one who Prince Daemon claims is pregnant with his child and who he intends to marry. Mysaria, however, has doubts as to whether or not she thinks the prince can keep her safe.

Mysaria is played by Japanese-British actress Sonoya Mizuno, who you’ll recognize from 2014s Ex Machina and 2018s Crazy Rich Asians. Trained as a ballet dancer, she has received a lot of criticism for her accent in House of the Dragon – apparently, a lot of people aren’t convinced. Twitter users have written, “Yeah this isn’t being talked about enough. It did not look or sound natural” and “if it weren’t for subtitles I would not have understood her. It legit sounded like flowing jumbled garbage.”

Teenage Ser Laenor Velaryon | Theo Nate

We get a glimpse of Laenor Velaryon in his youth, sitting at the side while watching the King’s tournament. He’s the only son of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and Lord Corlys Velaryon and heir to Driftmark island. As an adult, he has a bigger part to play in Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s future, not least of all because his parents wanted to see him reunite their family house with that of the Targaryens.

The part of Laenor is actually played by three different actors at different life stages. He was played by Matthew Carver as a child, and Theo Nate in his teenage years (pictured) who you may have seen in the 2021 series Time starring Sean Bean. But for his later adult years, the character is going to undergo another actor swap where Nate will be replaced by British actor John MacMillan, best known for his roles in The Nevers (2021) and King Lear (2018).

Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong | Ryan Corr

Ser Harwin Strong is best known by his nickname “Breakbones” for relatively self-explanatory reasons – he’s a bone-breaking knight with a reputation for being the strongest man in all the Seven Kingdoms. He’s also the heir to the largest castle in all the kingdoms, Harrenhal, with strong protective feelings for his brother Ser Larys Strong. He also has an eye for Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.

Australian actor Ryan Corr is best known for his TV and movie roles in the land down under, having appeared in shows like Love Child and Packed to the Rafters and films Wolf Creek 2 and The Water Diviner. He played the part of a lead actor in Holding the Man, however, where he portrays a homosexual man defying obstacles to be with his high school lover of 15 years.

Adult Queen Alicent Hightower | Olivia Cooke

When Alicent Hightower reaches adulthood, she’s already Queen of Westeros and the second wife of King Viserys Targaryen. Throughout her marriage to the king, she bears him children but is noted as retaining her beauty and slender frame regardless. She is a renowned beauty but has a cunning and ambitious side to her as well that sees her make strategic decisions to ensure her high political position.

In her adult years, she is portrayed by Olivia Cooke, the 28-year-old English actress who starred in movies like 2014s Ouija, 2015s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and 2016s The Limehouse Golem. In terms of television, she appeared in Bates Motel as Emma Decody and Vanity Fair as Becky Sharp. Already an experienced actress in many ways, her role in House of the Dragons may just put her on the map in Hollywood.

Lord Boremund Baratheon | Julian Lewis Jones

Boremund Baratheon is actually the maternal half-brother of King Jaehaerys Targaryen, the deceased grandfather of King Viserys Targaryen. He holds a bunch of titles – Boremund is the head of House Baratheon, the Lord of Storm’s End, and Overlord of the Stormlands. We see him and his son beaten by Ser Criston Cole in the jousting competition and swears allegiance to Princess Rhaenyra when she is named the heir apparent at court.

Welsh actor Julian Lewis Jones portrays Boremund, but he’s most famous for his roles in British TV shows. He plays park keeper Mr. Roper in The Tudors and Russian spy Viktor Barenshik in Spooks, but was given a movie role by Clint Eastwood in his film Invictus, where he played the part of the head bodyguard for Nelson Mandela.

Lord Corlys Velaryon | Steve Toussaint

Lord Corlys Velaryon is the husband of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, sister of King Viserys, and he’s supposedly the richest man in Westeros. He earned himself the moniker of “the Sea Snake” as a youngster for his adventurous character, but now he enjoys his powerful position as one of the King’s advisors. He remains faithful to the crown despite frequent differences in opinion.

A British actor of Barbadian descent, Steve Toussaint has starred in quite a few big Hollywood productions, including Judge Dredd (1995), Shooting Dogs (2005), and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010). But he actually started out his professional life studying politics before moving into merchant banking, hospital administration and even writing.

Princess Rhaenys Targaryen | Eve Best

Princess Rhaenys is married to the wealthy Lord Corlys Velaryon, with whom she has two children. But she was once one of the possible heirs to the throne as granddaughter to King Jaehaerys Targaryen, but she passed over in favor of Viserys because of gender. She is supposedly referred to as “the Queen Who Never Was,” but not to her face. From a conversation with Princess Rhaenyra, it seems as though Rhaenys holds onto some resentment about being overlooked for the iron throne.

English actress and director Eve Best has had a glittering career both on TV and in Hollywood. You’ll remember her as Dr. Eleanor O’Hara in the series Nurse Jackie, or Wallis Simpson in 2010s The King’s Speech. But her career on Broadway has seen her rake in accolades, from a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play to nominations for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

Ser Harrold Westerling | Graham McTavish

Ser Harrold Westerling took over as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard after Ser Ryam Redwyne passed away. He has been a member of the Kinsguard since King Jaehaerys, but interestingly his character has been much expanded in House of the Dragon as compared to George R. R. Martin’s book series.

Scottish actor Graham McTavish has had great experience starring in a fantasy series, having played the part of Dwalin in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movie trilogy. He’s also starred in Outlander, Preacher, and Rambo, but you might be surprised to learn that McTavish is a total gym fanatic. Aside from that, he often rocks about in a kilt and long socks, proudly representing his Scottish heritage!

Lady Laena Velaryon | Nova Foueillis-Mosé

Laena Velaryon is the only daughter of Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and is still very young when she’s introduced to us in the show. But that doesn’t stop her parents from putting her forward as a potential wife to aging King Viserys. Politically, a marriage between both their houses would be of great value to them both. But ultimately, Viserys chooses to wed Lady Alicent Hightower instead.

Lady Laena Velaryon is portrayed by 12-year-old Nova Foueillis-Mosé, an up-and-coming British actress. Not even yet a teenager, House of the Dragon is her first real acting performance as she actually comes from a dancing background. She’s been training most of her life to be a professional ballet dancer, so only time will tell as to which route she decides to pursue, if not both!

Ser Otto Hightower | Rhys Ifans

Ser Otto Hightower proves himself to be exceedingly faithful as the Hand to King Viserys. He recognizes Prince Daemon Targaryen as a threat to the realm, as well as the growing alliance between the “Triarchy”, AKA the Free Cities, who are trying to claim the Stepstones. But his own personal motives aren’t to be overlooked, as he was the one who suggested to his daughter Alicent that she “entertain” the King following the death of his first wife, Lady Aemma.

Welsh actor and musician Rhys Ifans portrays the knight Ser Otto Hightower, but it’s by no means his most famous on-screen performance. Ifans has starred in Notting Hill, Enduring Love, Kevin & Perry Go Large, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and even made it into the Harry Potter movie franchise as Xenophilius Lovegood. He’s best known for choosing to play kooky, unhinged characters, so the calm and calculating Otto Hightower marks quite a departure for him.

Ser Vaemond Velaryon | Wil Johnson

Vaemond Velaryon is described by HBO as being the younger brother to Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon. But in George R. R. Martin’s book series, he’s actually described as being Lord Corlys’ nephew, but his father isn’t named. He’s a commander in the Velaryon navy, but it’s thought that the family lineage has been condensed in the TV show to simplify things a bit.

Ser Vaemond Velaryon is played by English actor Wil Johnson, who has had prominent parts in TV shows like Waking the Dead and Babyfather. You wouldn’t think it to see him today, but Johnson actually suffered from a speech impediment in his youth, as well as frequent anxiety attacks. He attended drama school in his youth but abhorred it because of his conditions, until one day when he was asked to replace a missing actor.

Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen | Milly Alcock

Rhaenyra Targaryen is King Viserys’ first-born child and the only surviving child of Queen Aemma Arryn. In her teen years, we see that she possesses more of an interest in riding dragons than ruling Westeros or having children, but her mother reminds her that her duty as a princess comes first. When she is chosen to be the heir apparent by her father the king, things get even more tricky.

22-year-old Australian actress Milly Alcock portrays the young princess, and it’s her most high-profile performance to date. She stated that she was “washing dishes in a restaurant, living in [her] mum’s attic,” prior to landing the part of Rhaenyra, having dropped out of school in her teens to pursue acting. If Alcock looks familiar to you, you may have seen her in horror/thriller TV shows like The School, The Gloaming, or Reckoning.

Prince Daemon Targaryen | Matt Smith

Prince Daemon established himself as a force to be reckoned with in episode 1 of House of the Dragon. As the younger brother of King Viserys, he’s jealous of his brother’s ruling position and appears to be willing to go to any lengths to take the throne as his own. He’s proven himself as a warrior in more than one brutal fight scene, and most worryingly of all, Daemon doesn’t appear to have a guilty conscience.

English actor Matt Smith comes from an accomplished acting background having enjoyed lead roles in movies like The Crown, Spider-Man, and Star Wars, to name a few. But he’s best known for playing the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who, which he starred in for four years from 2010 to 2014. In his youth, he actually had every intention of going into professional football before a back injury rendered him unable to do so.

Grand Maester Mellos | David Horovitch

Grand Maester Mellos is the most senior member of the Order of Maesters and acts as a personal maester to the Iron Throne and the Red Keep. As the scholarly member of the small council, King Viserys turns to Mellos for all manner of advice. It is him who asks the king to choose whether to save his wife or his unborn child during Queen Aemma’s difficult childbirth.

English actor David Horovitch is one of the most distinguished actors in the House of the Dragon franchise, having enjoyed a long and illustrious acting career. One of his most famous roles was that of Inspector Slack in the 80s and 90s murder mystery show Miss Marple, adapted from the famous novels of the same name by Agatha Christie. If that doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you’ll remember him as Dr. Pavlov in 2000s 102 Dalmatians.

Adult Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen | Emma D’Arcy

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen undergoes an actor change later on in the series. She seemingly has everything going for her in terms of inheriting the iron throne. As HBO put it, she is “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, they add, “she was not born a man.”

Rhaenyra’s young adult life is portrayed by English actor Emma D’Arcy, who has mainly had experience in TV and stage drama. D’Arcy has enjoyed roles in Truth Seekers and Wanderlust prior to landing a major part of House of the Dragon, but we’re yet to see what lies in store for them after the fantasy series. In their personal life, D’Arcy identifies as non-binary and chooses to go by they/them pronouns.

Prince Craghas “Crabfeeder” Drahar | Daniel Scott-Smith

Craghas Drahar is most commonly known as “the Crabfeeder” for his tortuous way of murdering people. He claimed the Stepstones – a group of small islands in the narrow sea – as his own and became a serious problem for the realm for plundering the ships that entered his territory. Most notably, he has extreme facial scarring from an unknown condition, which some fans speculate to be a dormant form of greyscale.

The actor who portrays Craghas Drahar, Daniel Scott-Smith, is up-and-coming in the acting world. He had a small role in the 2019 movie Men in Black: International, as well as the 2022 TV series Jungle. While not much is known about the young actor, he spoke highly of his Crabfeeder’s mask when talking to Collider, stating “It’s a power statement,” inspired by the masks seen on the Sons of the Harpy in Game of Thrones.

Lord Jason Lannister | Jefferson Hall

Jason Lannister is a twin brother to Ser Tyland Lannister, and boy do we see it. Like his brother, he has the characteristic physical Lannister traits i.e. blonde hair and blue eyes. According to HBO, he also possesses the “signature Lannister arrogance”, which we caught a glimpse of in his pursuit to marry Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.

English actor Jefferson Hall is in the unique position of having played three characters from George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy universe. Not only does he play the part of both Jason and Tyland Lannister (they are identical twins, after all), but he also had a role in the Game of Thrones franchise, where he played the part of Hugh of the Vale.

Young Lady Alicent Hightower | Emily Carey

Lady Alicent Hightower is first introduced to us while she is still a teenager and a close friend of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. She appears to have genuinely warm feelings for Rhaenyra at first, but after catching the King’s eye and marrying him (as encouraged by her father), we see her begin to gain confidence and step into her own as Queen of Westeros. And unsurprisingly, her relationship with Rhaenyra falls apart entirely.

Young Lady Alicent Hightower is played by 19-year-old English actress and model Emily Carey. Prior to House of the Dragon, Carey starred in the Netflix series Anastasia: Once Upon a Time as the title character. She’s also dabbled in voice acting, playing Anne Frank in both Where is Anne Frank and Monster Family 2, but her role as Alicent has certainly been the most taxing. She told Glamour, “during those long days, I got very tired emotionally because the scenes are so intense.”