House of the Dragon Showrunner Speaks Out on Breakdown of Rhaenyra and Alicent's Friendship

This past week, House of the Dragon finally delivered the 10-year time jump that had been teased from the very beginning of the series. That leap into the future widened the divide between Alicent and Rhaenyra, the queen and princess that started the show as the best of friends. What was once a close relationship is quickly spiraling into hatred, and we know that one day it will turn into an all-out war.

Rhaenyra and Alicent's crumbling relationship is one of the most intriguing aspects of House of the Dragon, as it informs so much of what's to come in Westeros. During the most recent episode of The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon, co-showrunner and director Miguel Sapochnik opened up about the broken bonds between the show's lead characters.

"If you look at the way that Alicent and Rhaenyra's relationship develops in the first five episodes or first four or five years of their time that we spend with them, they are good friends with this potential romantic entanglement from earlier on that has always been a big thing, for me, that I thought was an essential component of why they are such close friends," Sapochnik explained. "It seems like it's a kind of unrequited love. It's not something that Alicent chose to encourage. Did they ever have a thing? Don't know. But there's something there, right? And Rhaenyra has this deep longing for her best friend."

The sixth episode of House of the Dragon introduced a time jump that saw multiple important characters recast with older actors. Emma D'Arcy replaced Milly Alcock in the role of Rhaenyra Targaryen, while Olivia Cooke took over the role of Alicent Hightower from Emily Carey.

Following her final appearance in episode five, Carey spoke with Variety about passing the role of Alicent on to Cooke in the coming episode.

"It's very strange, having this much this much freedom and this much ownership of a role, and then not even being able to read the rest of the scripts, because it was so top secret," Carey explained. "I am incredibly excited to see Olivia and Emma [D'Arcy, who plays the adult Rhaenyra] do their thing. They are both the loveliest people ever, and I've admired Olivia as work for years and years. So to be able to hand off a role to her of all people fills me with so much joy and pride."

"I just can't wait to see the episodes and actually watch the show with the viewer, and not be cringing at myself," she added. "I can actually take it in from an audience's perspective, which is quite nice."

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New episodes of House of the Dragon air on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday nights.