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House of Dragons: Matt Smith talks Game of Thrones spinoff

Days after flying into Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con to preview the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel, the cast of ‘House of the Dragon’ was announced for the series’ world premiere Wednesday at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles reassembled night.

Set almost 200 years before the events of the HBO hit series, House of the Dragon focuses on the Targaryen dynasty in all its dysfunction – and all its dragons.

With 17 winged creatures appearing in the first season alone, many of the actors spent a lot of time pretending to fly. MattSmithwho plays Prince Daemon Targaryen diversity that riding the mechanical buck mimicking a dragon was “a lot of fun.”

“You’re on a remote control and someone’s there moving it, and then they fire a blast of wind and rain at you,” he joked. “Better work for a living.”

But the sword fight turned out to be a little more dangerous. His co-star at Comic-Con Fabian Frankel (Ser Criston Cole) admitted that he accidentally hit Smith in the face with an ax during a rehearsal.

“I really regret saying that because I was asked if I hurt him badly,” Frankel said when reminded of the revelation. “But I felt at the time, ‘God, of all the people I could have slapped in the face, Matt was the worst.’ I was ready for them to say, ‘Matt Smith, right? You’re off the show.’”

However, Smith had no bad feelings about the accident, saying: “He gave me the chin but it was fine. I lived to fight another day.”

There are a few less swords involved Olivia Cookes Portrayal of Alicent Hightower (aside from an infamous cat’s paw dagger seen in the trailers), but her character’s storyline is still profound. The relationship between Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) is an integral part of the show’s plot, as the series chronicles their friendship as young women (with Alicent, portrayed by Emily Carey and Rhaenyra from Milly Alcock) and the chaos that ensues when Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Thorn is called into question, leading to a civil war known to fans as the Dance of the Dragons.

“It’s these two women who are so much stronger together, but patriarchy has driven a wedge between them. And they’re used as political pawns their entire lives, when in reality they’re so much more,” Cook teased, explaining what intrigued her about the storyline. “They realize they have power, strength and determination over the course of the show, but the men around them are just so eager to watch the world around them burn for their legacy.”

Legacy is a big buzzword when it comes to Game of Thrones, and since House of the Dragon harks back to both the success of George RR Martin’s book series and the pop culture juggernaut that was the Emmy-winning HBO show , needs to tie in, there’s quite a bit of pressure.

Steve Toussaint (Lord Corlys Velaryon) noted the relief he felt in Hall H as he witnessed the excitement of the fans first hand.

“It was overwhelming. From the minute the show was announced, there was a lot of anticipation and a lot of people were like, ‘I hope they do a good job,'” Toussaint explained. “So finally to actually be surrounded by a universal supportive hug — people are just like, ‘I can’t wait to see it, I know it’s going to be great.’ It’s still pretty nerve wracking but… we’re proud of what we’ve done and I think people are going to like it.”

With nods to “thrones,” like banners bearing the sigil of House Targaryen adorning the path to the after-party, as well as a bronzed dragon skull at the museum’s entrance, HBO gave guests a sneak peek at the production design that the cast and the Crew experienced on the set.

However, the group – which also included stars – is missing Paddy Considine, Eva Best, Rhys Ifans and Gavin Spokesand co-showrunner Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik – was “Game of Thrones” writer Martin. Before the screening began, HBO and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys told the audience that Martin, who also serves as the co-creator and EP of House of the Dragon, was unable to attend the event after responding positively had been tested for COVID-19.

Back on the carpet, co-showrunner Condal reflected on being the “chosen one” Martin entrusted with adapting Fire and Blood, which was his passion project.

“There’s a lot to process. I mean it’s a big responsibility,” Condal shared. “I love George deeply as a man, as a writer, as a creator. i love his world That’s why I ended up here. I came here as a fan; I was hired because I was a fan.”

But while he actually “asked for this assignment,” the creator admits, “I don’t think I knew what I was really getting myself into.”

Overall, though, being invested as a fan initially had its perks, as Condal struggled to make the series “that he wanted to see if only I’d sat on my couch and tuned in,” and he feels that’s what it’s about team did just that.

For his part, Sapochnik is one of the most successful alumni of the original Game of Thrones series, having received two Primetime Emmys as executive producer and director of the show, the latter award in 2016 for his epic Battle of the Bastards episode.

While Sapochnik will direct three episodes of the new series, fans shouldn’t expect any more fight scenes from the filmmaker. “I’m afraid I’ve retired from battles,” he confirmed, before passing his advice to the directors who helmed the more bombastic scenes. “Don’t go big for the sake of bigger,” he advised. “When you do a fight, make sure it has a story and that it serves a character’s purpose. Otherwise there is no point in fighting.”

In short, Sapochnik’s advice to the other filmmakers joining the franchise: “Don’t break it.”

House of the Dragon debuts August 21 on HBO and HBO Max.

(Pictured above: Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke Emma D’Arcy and Steve Toussaint.)

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