Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke are not only trending on TikTok for their viral “Negroni Sbagliato” video, but also on HBO
shines on screen as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower in Game of Thrones spin-off Dragon Palace this year. After a rigorous audition process, the duo was cast for the adult version of the role (Millie Alcock and Emily Carey played the younger characters for the first three episodes), and both have struggled with complex family dynamics During the turbulent times, friendship is lost, who is the real heir to the throne. Great I took selfies in my living room for about three months during the pandemic, and it was amazing. Actually, it felt like living on an island and trying to make a movie or something, because I didn’t see anyone or really do anything, but I was supposedly in conversation with one of the biggest TV shows in the world. My partner and I put together a wig out of a bag of hair, and then after three months of doing it, I was invited to a four or five hour live audition, and I did that, and then, I was told, “Next week You’re going to hear something.” And then I didn’t. Then I was told it might not go my way. I thought, “Wow, what a shame.” I went to the country, just for the weekend, to start my metabolism, and by the end of that weekend I had about 15 Missed call from my agent. I was speaking to him the next morning and heard, “They changed their minds! Do you want to do it? It’s weird, to be honest. A very lonely process that seemed to last half a year.
OLIVIA COOKE Similar to Emma, it’s almost like it gave me a little bit of locked-up purpose. It’s like clocking in at work. I It started with a tape of Rhaenyra. And then they were like, “Can you see these sides? ’ It was for Alicent. And then they went back to Rhaenyra, and then back to Alicent, and it was my last audition. Then, sometime in between, I had an interview with [co-showrunner] Ryan [Condal] Meeting Miguel [Sapochnik] to talk about my tapes and how they saw Alicent. They were basically guiding me on how to get this job on my next tape, which was really, really lovely. And it felt good. But Then they put me on hold for two weeks —
D’ARCY exactly what happened to me It’s crazy! They call and say, “We want you to play this part,” and you say, “That’s a good sign, you’re going to get it,” and then two months later you’re still auditioning. Crazy.
COOKE It was the end of August and they were like, ” We’ll put you on hold for a while. Don’t take any jobs. ’ I was like, ‘This is a pandemic. I won’t get any job! “Then two weeks turned into six weeks, and then in mid-October I got calls from all my agents, which is usually a good sign you’re getting the job.
How did you prepare for your role?
COOKE WE ALL LOOKED INTO GAME OF THRONES – as none of us had seen it before – read this Book, read the script, chatted endlessly with Ryan, Miguel, and [writer and executive producer] Sarah Hess. That’s it, really. I didn’t really do much self-reflection or anything like that Things.
Emma, talk to me about learning High Valyrian.
D’ARCY My phrase book will need to be close at hand. But I can Do the basics. I can order you a cappuccino or hail a cab or something. I really enjoy that process. I’m lucky because I have a long High Valyrian monologue, but inside There aren’t a lot of dialogue parts. It’s a fully operational language, so I think it’s really satisfying to take it apart. We’ve got English translations, advanced Valyrian, voice translations, and then there’s recordings, of which One [method] is to try to parrot the recording. As an actor, it is ideal to be able to master the language you have to use. For example, I am a big fan of using gestures to embed meaning into unfamiliar language. Now I have a Incredible rolling R. So really, it paid off.
D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen. Presented by HBO
Olivia, you play someone caught between two worlds, especially in episode 8 when your son Aegon is accused of being His servant Diana raped. How did you prepare for that scene?
COOKE Sara Hess wrote that episode, so I talked to her and [director] Geeta Patel endlessly. Alicent must be in such a bad place because if she really backs her son as heir to the throne, trusts this woman and drives him out, the whole dynasty will fall apart. In that moment, you have to think about what Alicent herself really stands for, which is for her children and order. Her first thought is to love and protect her son as much as possible, which is so fucking cold. But at the same time, her humanity got the better of her, and she couldn’t help developing feelings for the girl – but then an iron shield had to come in. There was a task at hand, that is, one, to reprimand Aegon and also silence those who knew. The scene was so grim, and the atmosphere that day was eerie, quiet, and depressing.
Have you ever felt like you needed to decompress after a scene?
COOKE We were just talking this. A lot of the show is [filmed] in Watford, which is a long way from where we live in London. Next season, we said we needed to find a local pub in Watford where we could go for a drink and be like, “What the fuck did we just do?”
D’ARCY This is true because it’s one of shooting’s quirks. After – you sometimes It can be felt in the body hours of the workday, and you need to unwind. You have a terrible headache, but because you’re constantly commuting at the end of the day and it’s long, at the end of the day, people disappear in about two minutes. A lot of decompression time happens in isolation.
COOKE You see all the Targaryens just fucking frisbees with their wigs then back to the car.
Cook and D’Arcy star as Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra in episode seven of HBO’s House of the Dragon. Presented by HBO 2022
What was your most challenging scene?
D’ARCY one of It’s the birth scene in the episode . This is challenging for a number of reasons: one of them is just a practical issue that the character has already been born in the series and you’re trying to find the difference between those things. You always want to really dig into the conditions of an event like this. In terms of acting, if you do two big birth scenes in five episodes, there’s a slightly unique challenge. At the same time, it’s not a simple delivery; the child is born stillborn. That event really marked the collision of two historic fears about Rhaenyra. On the one hand, she has long feared that being forced to have a child could result in incapacity, as well as the threat of death. She lost her mother in childbirth as a child. She spent years waiting to be called, basically waiting for news of her father’s death. Now the throne is yours and it is time for you to ascend to heaven. Two things happened at the same time. The whole episode was a nightmare. Because there’s more than one mountain incident in this episode. Like the Alps.
I think in that birth scene, my feeling was that for a character who had such a complicated relationship with how her gender made her relevant to the world, it was as if she was suddenly given The choice of being king or mother, maybe neither, or both. Trying to tell a story through the main lines while doing something physically demanding…it’s challenging, and you don’t know if it’s going to work, really, until you see it on screen.
COOKE In episode eight, the scene where Dyana told me my son raped She… Then, I had to punch Tom [Green-Carney] pretty hard in the scene. And Tom, being Tom, was like, “No, just hit me.” The first go-around, I was clamped on his jaw. He’s like, “No, it’s just really on me,” and then I’m really fucking all over it so much that it’s been echoing all over the hall, and I’ve got a heartbeat in my hand. Luckily, the camera was on Tom and I was completely taken out of the scene [because I was] trying to suppress a very awkward laugh. God knows what it did to his face. …we only did it once or twice. But it was like, “Oh my God, don’t mess with you.”
The interview was edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe .