‘House of the Dragon’ Showrunner Talks ‘Faithfully’ Following the Book


War is on the horizon for HBO’s House of the Dragon in its second season, and it’s time for the Dance of Dragons

Fans of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s fictional history book, Fire & Blood, may have an idea of what to expect in the upcoming eight-episode run, including a number of fan-favorite events and epic battles. As showrunner Ryan Condal told ET at the show’s New York City premiere on June 3, “We’re being true to the story that’s written in the book.”

In House of the Dragon‘s first season, audiences were treated to several surprising moments that even loyal book readers didn’t see coming. Those changes were due, in large part, to a difference in Martin’s storytelling method with Fire & Blood versus the Game of Thrones series.

‘House of the Dragon’ season 2 character art.HBO Max

Unlike GOTHouse of the Dragon‘s source material is written not as a narrative, but as a scholarly document penned by Archmaester Gyldayn including an unreliable narration of historical events from a cast of varying sources. The style of Martin’s telling has allowed show writers plenty of room for creative liberties, expanding throwaway details into fully formed plots, developing characters and relationships, and even inventing jaw-dropping new scenes.

While some fans were underwhelmed by differences between the book and TV versions of Game of Thrones, HOTD‘s updates were largely well received by not only viewers, but by Martin himself. Back in 2022, the celebrated author raved that Paddy Considine’s portrayal of King Viserys was “much more powerful and tragic and fully-fleshed than my own version.” Additionally, Eve Best‘s standout “f**k you” moment as “The Queen Who Never Was” — Princess Rhaenys — at Aegon II’s coronation was dreamed up entirely by House of the Dragon show creatives, as it’s absolutely nowhere to be found in Fire & Blood

“I think there are different demands in the show, given that it’s an adaptation of a history book,” Condal told ET ahead of season 2. “But, no, the plan is to faithfully render George’s history as as it’s been given in the text.”

Ryan Condal at the “House of the Dragon” NYC Red Carpet Premiere held at Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center on June 3, 2024 in New York City, New York.Arturo Holmes/WireImage

Harry Collett — who plays Prince Jacaerys “Jace” Velaryon, the eldest son of Emma D’Arcy’s Princess Rhaenyra — is among those expected to embark on a major journey this season. 

“Expect a lot, because it’s just such a good series,” the actor told ET at the NYC premiere. “I’m not just saying that ’cause I’m biased, but it is genuinely so good. I just can’t wait for people to watch it.” 

Harry Collett attends the “House Of The Dragon” – Season 2 Premiere At Theatre Du Chatelet on June 6, 2024 in Paris, France.Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Steve Toussaint, the actor behind Lord Corlys “The Sea Snake” Velaryon, offered an encouraging message to book purists. 

“Just go with it,” he told ET. “The spirit of the story is still the same. Now, I haven’t read the book, but they’re two different medias, so you can’t always have exactly the same thing that was in the book as on the script. But just go with it, ’cause it’s still a wild ride.”

Steve Toussaint attends HBO’s “House Of The Dragon” Season 2 Premiere at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 3, 2024 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

As for Matthew Needham, whose Lord Larys “The Clubfoot” Strong shared a particularly cringey — and TV-specific — season 1 scene with Olivia Cooke‘s Queen Alicent, he empathizes with fans’ desire to see the show stay in lockstep with the book. 

“Oh, I understand that,” he told ET. “I hope that they can sort of find some peace that it is two separate things.”

He continued, “But I understand when you really care for something, it is frustrating when you see differences, so I get that. I hope that it doesn’t impede their enjoyment in some way.” 

Matthew Needham attends the “House Of The Dragon” – Season 2 Premiere At Theatre Du Chatelet on June 6, 2024 in Paris, France.Marc Piasecki/WireImage

Readers can find a kindred spirit in series star Bethany Antonia, who counts herself as one of the “loyal” fans of the book. The actress behind Lady Baela Targaryen — the eldest daughter of Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen — encourages diehards to embrace the show as its own “version” of the story. 

“I see why it’s so frustrating when your favorite books are, like, adapted not how you like,” she said to ET. “Try and find the glimmers that we as actors have really tried to bring out from the books. Try to find it where you can.” 

Bethany Antonia at the “House of the Dragon” NYC Red Carpet Premiere held at Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center on June 3, 2024 in New York City, New York.Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images

As for the upcoming plot points, trailers have teased the forthcoming war between the Black Council and the Green Council amid an ongoing dispute over the rightful heir to the throne following the death of King Viserys at the end of season 1. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra and her uncle-turned-husband, Daemon, appear to be at an impasse in their marriage. 

“We meet them both in a state of deep grief,” D’Arcy, who plays Rhaenyra, told ET. “[And] they’re two bereaved people who really struggle to communicate.”

“They’re not good communicators,” D’Arcy said of Rhaenyra and Daemon, “and actually, I think something about their dynamic means that they are not willing to show weakness to one another. This is sort of a fundamental flaw in their relationship. They don’t want to be seen to be weak.”

“So I think… it’s gonna be bumpy,” D’Arcy added.

Smith feels Daemon’s motivations are fueled by a sense of duty and honor, but they ultimately drive a wedge between him and Rhaenyra.

“We pick up in a very complicated situation,” Smith said of season 2. “There’s a lot of grief flying around in the air and I think, you know, Daemon is doing things that he thinks are for the benefit of the family. [Things] he’s sort of duty bound to do really.”

However, Smith said that Daemon’s actions and ambition “invariably creates a deeper fragmentation between” them.

“In many ways, he’s sort of on his own path,” Smith said, adding, “They’re a complicated bunch.”

Matt Smith as Daemon and Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra in ‘House of the Dragon’ season 2.Warner Bros.

D’Arcy also explained that the “political designs have never felt more personally important” this season.

“I think for Rhaenyra, particularly, her inheritance, sitting on the Iron Throne, her name in the Targaryen histories, all of these feel like a way to remain closer to her father. Her late father. So yeah, sitting on the throne is a fundamental personal need now, as well as a sort of political aim,” D’Arcy explained.

As for King Aegon, who has usurped the throne from his elder half-sister, actor Tom Glynn-Carney said that his character growth will mostly be about Aegon “finding [his] feet” and “getting to grips with what it is to step into the shoes of the king, wear the crown, sit on the Iron Throne — and actually have purpose.”

“We see Aegon, for the first time ever, have purpose,” he added excitedly.

Tom Glynn-Carney as King Aegon in ‘House of the Dragon’ season 2.HBO

Condal has also teased that this season is also set to feature some of the biggest and boldest action sequences in the franchise’s history.

“They’re two of the biggest things we’ve ever filmed,” Condal shared. “They involve lots of dragons and fire and action, and it’s exciting! I’m excited for everyone to see it.”

House of the Dragon is a prequel series to HBO’s megahit Game of Thrones. It tells the history of House Targaryen, the family dynasty that ruled the seven kingdoms of Westeros hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon returns to HBO on June 16. Season 1 is currently streaming on Max. 




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