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Cast & EPs On New Westeros Worlds, Greedy Royals & Rhys Ifans Raiding The Set’s Chocolate Table

While the world already has seen the trailer for House of the Dragon, the cast and creator showed up at Comic-Con to tell us more about the HBO series before it debuts on August 21.

Unfortunately that early drop had zero exclusives for fans who lined up overnight to get into Hall H. EP Ryan J. Condal did say one of the new Westeros worlds we’ll see is Driftmark, an island in Blackwater Bay near Dragonstone that is the seat of House Velaryon and the Sea Snake. “We explore it quite a bit,” said the EP.

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Based on George RR Martin‘s Fire & Bloodthe series is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen (Daenary’s family) and its ultimate fall.

Martin appeared this morning with the cast at the House of the Dragon panel in Hall H. Panelists including EP Ryan J. Condal, Paddy Considine (King Viserys Targaryen), Matt Smith (Prince Daemon Targaryen), Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), Emma D’Arcy (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen), Steve Toussaint (Lord Corlys Velaryon), Eve Best (Princess Rhaenys Targaryen), Fabien Frankel (Ser Criston Cole), Milly Alcock (Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen) and Emily Carey (Young Alicent Hightower).

“We begin at the absolute pinnacle of the dynasty’s wealth and influence,” Condal said. “The most dragons they’ll ever have. It’s before the bloom comes off the rose.”

Condal got to know Martin nine years when he was shooting his NBC supernatural western pilot The Sixth Gun in Santa Fe, NM. He told his agents he was taking the author to dinner in what he billed as “light fan-stalking” and “picked his brain.”

“I was stealing his cast from that busted pilot,” said Martin about taking actors from that series to Games of Thrones, one of them was Pedro Pascal.

“What was important for the show is that there’s 17 [dragons] at the height of this,” said Condal about the importance of creating the beasts. “We started concepting on before we start filming.”

Said Considine: “Viserys is a kind man. He inherited the crown because he’s a kind man and a scholar. He’s a man who cares about things, and there’s a great tragedy in that. He’s carrying something out which is a great secret and the potential fall of man.”

Said Martin about Viserys: “A good king is someone who regards being a king as a duty than a privilege you’re entitled to. The duty is to dispense justice, have peace and occasionally do boring things and building roads and sanitation. No one wants to see a show about King Visarys building roads.”

“He’s not driven by glory,” Martin added.

While Game of Thrones was inspired by the War of the Roses, Martin mentioned that House of Dragon is based on the anarchy in world history.

Martin said that no one is totally evil or good in the series. “I always believed that the most interesting characters are great characters. They’re capable of generosity, good and love and next week they do something they’re ashamed of.” He said that critics made a swipe at GoT with its multitude of characters, but he believes that fans can indeed, keep up with a long list of dramatis personae.

Best said about her queen who never was: “It really pisses her off. She should have been the queen, and it’s kind of annoying she isn’t. And annoying that people keep reminding her.”

Toussaint on Corlys: “He went on the famed nine voyages. … At time when we meet him, he’s a wealthy, self-made man.”

The actor added, “I was jealous of my whole family gets to ride dragons and I don’t.”

D’Arcy said what drives Rhaenyra is “Fire.” She plays the older version of the character, while Alcock is the younger. The two never conferred on creating the character together. Part of the series, per D’Arcy, deals with her character contending with male characters that she’s the rightful ruler.

Carey said of creating Alicent: “I think she’s so multi-faceted. Many are expecting her to be the villain of the show. Bringing her in younger, gives us more to explore. I never had the freedom to create a whole human being like this before.”

Smith said that the reason why he chose such a dark role on House of Dragon: “Once I played the Doctor [in Doctor Who]I was looking to play something that was completely different.”

How the cast blew off steam on the gravitas set, Cooke shared that Rhys Ifans (Otto Hightower), would “ravage the whole [chocolate] table.” The cast also enjoyed sharing how he’d paw his way through a bag of crisps.

Said Cooke about the ramp-up to the show’s premiere: “There’s a massive pressure to give you guys what you want, to make it different and put our own stamp on it. We hope this has the same legacy. God, we worked our bums off for a year. And these guys worked for longer. Yeah, man, I hope you like it.”

House of the Dragon commenced Comic-Con with a big footprint, which started Wednesday night, with its walk-in experience. Visitors weaved their way through a spooky castle to a dragon cave where they grabbed an egg and watched it hatch (on an app).

Martin said that he doesn’t plan to make a cameo in House of Dragon. He’s still working on his book The Winds of Winter. “It’s a little late,” he confessed.

One fan’s last question, “Have you banned coffee cups from the set” referring to the Starbucks cameo incident.

Replied Smith, “No, they’re everywhere.”

Today’s panel was hosted by Jason Concepcion.

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