The Game of Thrones prequel will forge its own story line, with a new cast of characters and a more diverse behind-the-scenes team.

“House of the Dragon” takes place two centuries before the events of the original series, which ended its hit eight-season run in May 2019. The 10-episode prequel premieres Sunday on HBO and will be available to aired on HBO Max.

The story focuses on House Targaryen, made famous in Game of Thrones by Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys and its fearsome dragons. But don’t expect House of the Dragon to be a Game of Thrones remake, said cast member Steve Toussaint.

“It’s done and they did it extremely well,” said Toussaint, who plays the very wealthy Lord Corlys Velaryon. “You know you’re in that world, but you’re seeing a different story, different characters, different motivations.”

Among the new faces in the clan is Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith. His villainous character is much more complex than it appears at first glance, the actor said.

“I think the reason I’m entertained is because he’s probably not just a villain,” he said. “I think there’s actually a great amount of fragility, depth and madness inside. … It’s not black and white. It could go either way with Daemon at any moment.”

Based on George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood, the drama was co-created by Martin and Ryan Condal, whose credits include the 2016-19 sci-fi drama Colony. Condal is an executive producer and co-showrunner with director Miguel Sapochnik, who brings his Game of Thrones experience to the prequel.

“House of the Dragon”, like its predecessor, focuses on family inheritance with a female heir being overlooked. But Sapochnik notes one key difference between the two series: The team making the prequel is more diverse, including a 50-50 split between male and female directors, including Sapochnik, Clare Kilner, Geeta Vasant Patel and Greg Yaitanes.

There was a conscious push to be inclusive behind the scenes, says Sapochnik.

“We really tried to, as much as possible, hire as many female crew as possible because we think it’s a really important change that needs to be recognized, recognized, acted upon, maybe given the opportunity to people who don’t get it. opportunities”, he explained.

Dragon’s creative team is equally diverse and — for the fantasy genre — boasts a relative abundance of women in the writers’ room. The gender balance affects the story and tone of the series, according to some of the female cast members.

The series opens with an aristocratic council appointing Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) as heir to the Iron Throne, bypassing his older cousin, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best). But Viserys must have his heir, with dreams of power held by Daemon, his younger brother, and Viserys’ daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy plays the grown-up version, Milly Alcock the youth).

“You definitely don’t feel like a tool or a prop and you don’t feel like a sexy girl or a mother,” said Olivia Cooke, who plays the grown-up Alicent Hightower, Rhaenyra’s old friend. “You feel like you have a full character, which is really nourishing to play.”

The ensemble cast also includes Emily Carey, Graham McTavish, Fabien Frankel, Rhys Ifans and Sonoya Mizuno.

Carey, who plays young Alicent, calls the inclusion of women in all aspects of production a step “in the right direction” for the fantasy genre.

Although virtually every female character faces misogyny, each is “still a full, three-dimensional female character,” Carey said. “They still have many other story lines and a whole life away from that misogynistic story line. They are not put on the show just to serve a purpose. And I think that’s what makes it so special.”

“House of the Dragon” screenwriter Charmaine DeGraté said “it was important to George (RR Martin, a prequel executive producer) to be like that. Female-led characters, female-led shows, and female-led writers’ rooms female-led just elevates the story. It’s a great way to expand the universe.”

Lefferts reported from New York, Lennox from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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