‘House of the Dragon’ Star Milly Alcock on Rhaenyra’s ‘Heartbreak’ Over Her Father’s Betrothal

Spoiler alert: This story discusses plot details from “House of the Dragon” Episode 2

Rhaenyra Targaryen was left shocked and hurt at the end of Sunday night’s episode of “House of the Dragon” on HBO after facing betrayal.

After bonding earlier in the episode with her father King Viserys (Paddy Considine) over his future and their shared grief, and with her friend Alicent Hightower as they lit candles for their late mothers, Rhaenyra was left stunned in the final moments from the latest episode of the “Game of Thrones” prequel when the king revealed to the Small Council he planned to take a new wife — and that wife would be her friend. The moment came shortly after Rhaenyra, played by actress Milly Alcock, told her father she understood he had to re-marry following the death of his wife, her mother Queen Aemma, and when Rhaenyra thought her father was considering a proposal to marry his cousin’s young daughter.

Alcock told TheWrap they had just two takes to capture the impact of the moment – a big one in the young princess’ life.

“It’s just kind of that she can’t process it. Her brain is literally fusing at that moment specifically. Her entire world is coming undone and it’s the biggest heartbreak that I think we see Rhaenyra face in the show. Because it’s so personal, in a strange way, and she’s been stabbed in the back completely. And I think that Viserys and Rhaenyra in that episode, [had started] mending a path to having a new understanding of what family is — because [it’s the] two of them. And I think she feels quite content with that and she’s coming to terms with what’s happened and she feels more at peace with everything,” Alcock said. “And then, when he drops that on her, it’s like all of the work that they’ve both done to try and deal with their grief separately and also together is completely shattered. So now Rhaenyra is an outsider once again within her own family. Now her family is not her own. Now she’s completely isolated. And we see her lean on other characters and other relationships to fulfill that hole.”

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That wasn’t the only major moment for the princess in the second episode of the series. She also took it upon herself to fly to Dragonstone, where Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) had been holing up for the last six months after the Small Council was informed the wayward prince had stolen the dragon egg Rhaenyra had selected for the crib of her brother Baelon (who died in the premiere) for his own uses.

While Hand of the King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) led a small group of soldiers to negotiate the return of the egg, things nearly got violent until Princess Rhaenyra flew to Dragonstone on the back of her dragon Syrax and confronted her uncle.

“Working with Matt is always so much fun. He’s such a generous actor and such a generous person. And it was really fun getting to be such a badass, and I think that that is like the first of many badass moments that we see Rhaenyra have in upcoming episodes,” Alcock said.

Matt Smith and Milly Alcock in "House of the Dragon" Episode 2 (HBO)
Matt Smith and Milly Alcock in “House of the Dragon” Episode 2 (HBO)

“So Ep. 1 she gets named heir; Ep. 2 is about her trying to prove herself as heir so every chance that she gets she’s speaking up, she’s going against the grain. She’s trying to be like, ‘Look, I can do it. If you’re not going to hear me out then I’m going to f—ing show you that I can do it,” Alcock continued. “So ultimately it’s a symbol of her strength. It’s a symbol of her ability and it’s a symbol of her bravery because ultimately I think she’s such a brave character.”

Returning home, though, with the dragon’s egg, Rhaenyra doesn’t receive a hero’s welcome.

“And then she gets completely scolded for that because obviously her father cares about her, cares about her well being. And I think that that contrast is such a nice moment,” Alcock said. “Paddy performed that so beautifully and you can see that he’s just really scared that she was going to die because she put herself in such danger. And she’s kind of embarrassed by it. So, yeah, it was a lot of fun.”

“House of the Dragon” airs Sundays on HBO and streams on HBO Max.

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