House of the Dragon: huge HBO cast changes including Milly Alcock and Emily Carey - who stays and who goes?

The recent episode ‘The Lord of the Tides’ marked yet another time jump that saw a number of cast changes, as Game of Thrones (GOT) fans saw many of their favourite cast members in Westeros replaced.

Much like its predecessor, Game of Thrones (GOT), HBO’s House of the Dragon (HOTD) series has been mightily impressive for showcasing a largely-unknown cast of promising actors.

Viewers are just over half-way through the very first season and much acclaim has been given to Milly Alcock, who plays Rhaenyra Targaryan.

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The Australian performer has impressed with how she has taken to the role, making the first female heir to the Iron Throne a firm fan-favourite.

While the Queen Consort Alicent Hightower, who is played by London-born actress Emily Carey, has also gained many plaudits.

Matt Smith, famous for roles as The Doctor in Doctor Who (2010-2013) and Prince Phillip in Netflix’s The Crown (2016-2017), has seen his performances cement Daemon Targaryen as one of the most layered characters in the GOT universe.

Those three, as well as a number of other cast members, have since been replaced in past episodes, with even more cast changes coming into effect recently.

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Here is everything you need to know about the House of the Dragon cast changes, such as who is staying or going and all the new actors joining the show.

Why is there a cast change for HBO’s House of the Dragon?

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English director Miguel Sapochnik attends the World premiere of HBO original drama series "House of the Dragon" at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

If anything has been a common theme or narrative device in the opening five episodes of the series, it is the use of time jumps, such as:

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  • Episode 1 to Episode 2 - six months
  • Episode 2 to Episode 3 - around three years
  • Episode 3 to Episode 4 - around two years
  • Episode 6 to Episode 7 - around 10 years
  • Episode 7 to Episode 8 - around six years

Due to these various time jumps, showrunners have been forced to see the younger actors depart and to be replaced by older performers.

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When are the House of the Dragon cast changes expected to take place?

A large majority of the cast changes have already come into effect.

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Season One, Episode 6, which is titled ‘The Princess and The Queen’, as well as Episode 8 ‘The Lord of the Tides’ are two of the major episodes that saw a lot of the cast alterations take place.

Which House of the Dragon cast members are being replaced and by who?

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The following are the House of the Dragon cast members leaving and who they will be replaced by:

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Rhaenyra Targaryen

  • Played by: Milly Alcock
  • New actor: Emma D’Arcy
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The magnificence of actress Milly Alcock is set to make way for Emma D’Arcy as the character of Rhaenyra Targaryen enters her near 30s.

Scenes of her as King Viserys’ first-born could be seen in marketing leading up to the release of the show.

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Much like her predecessor, Emma D’Arcy is London-born and the 30-year-old has previously starred in Amazon Prime’s Truth Seekers (2020) and Hanna (2020).

It is expected that Ms D’Arcy will play the role for the remainder of the show.

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Alicent Hightower

  • Played by: Emily Carey
  • New actor: Olivia Cooke
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Emily Carey has done a great job portraying the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms across the first five episodes, but she will bow out for Olivia Cooke.

Olivia, who has previously starred in Ready Player One (2018) and Sound of Metal (2019), is expected to take the reins for the remainder of the show.

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Laenor Velaryon

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  • Played by: Matthew Carver and Theo Nate
  • New actor: John Macmillan

The soon-to-be King Consort of the Seven Kingdoms after wedding Rhaenyra has already seen a change, with Matthew Carver playing a child version of Laenor Velaryon.

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But now it seems that after the 10-year time jump, more change is coming for the son of the Sea Snake as John Macmillan of The Nevers (2021) and King Lear (2018) is taking over.

Laena Velaryon

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  • Played by: Nouva Foueillis-Mose and Savannah Steyn
  • New actor: Nanna Blondell

Much like her brother Laenor, Laena has also already seen a cast change this season with Ms Foueillis-Mose playing her as a child.

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Savannah Steyn picked up the role in ‘We Light the Way’ - but now she is set to undergo yet another cast change.

Nanna Blondell, who is known for her roles in The Inner Circle (2019) and Hassel (2017), will now play the role of Laena Valaryon.

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Aegon Targaryen II and Halaena Targaryen

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  • Played by: Jake/Rory Heard - Uncredited child actor
  • New actor: Ty Tennant/Tom Glynn-Carney - Evie Allen/Phia Saban
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Aegon, who is set to play a vital role in the plot for the remainder of the show, is set to undergo two changes.

From episode six, Ty Tennant - who is the adoptive son of David Tennant - will take the reins of the toddler version.

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However, Aegon will see one last change for when he is an adult as Tom Glynn-Carney when the change happens in Episode 8.

His little sister Halaena, who at first was just an uncredited child actor, will have two iterations - Evie Allen will play as the teenage version, while The Last Kingdom’s Lady AElfwynn will see the role out as an adult.

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Aemond Targaryen, Jaecerys Targaryen, Lucerys Targaryen

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  • Played by: N/A
  • New actor: Leo Ashton/Ewan Mitchell - Leo Hart/Harry Collett - Harvey Sadler/Elliot Grihault

We have now met Aemond (the last child of Alicent and Viserys) - first when he was around eight or nine years old and was played by Leo Ashton.

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But as readers of Fire & Blood - the George RR Martin novel that House of the Dragon is based on - he will play a vital role when he is an adult, which is when Ewan Mitchell of The Last Kingdom will take the role.

While two of the three children of Rhaenyra and Laenor - Jaecerys and Lucerys - have been played by child actors (Leo Hart and Harvey Sadler) and have been undertaken by adult performers (Harry Collett and Elliot Grihault) respectively.

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The third son, called Joffrey, has not yet been officially cast by HBO.

Baela Targaryen and Rhaena Targaryen

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  • Played by: N/A
  • New actor: Shani Smethurst/Bethany Antonia - Eva Ossei-Gerning/Phoebe Campbell

Baela and Rhaena are the twin-daughters of Daemon Targaryan and Laena Velaryon and will almost certainly sport the trademark platinum blonde hair.

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As a child, Baela will be played by Shani Smethurst and Rhaena will be played by Eva Ossei-Gurning.

We will also get the chance to see them as young adults at some point in the show too.

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HBO has confirmed that Bethany Antonia and Phoebe Campbell will play Baela and Rhaena respectively.

Which House of the Dragon cast members are remaining on the show?

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Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones prequel series (HBO)

Basically, anyone who has not been mentioned will remain on our television screens and in Westeros - including some big fan-favourites.

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Luckily for HOTD fans, Matt Smith will continue to sport the morally grey Daemon Targaryen, as does Paddy Considine as the dying King Viserys.

Lord Lionel Strong, who recently became Hand of the King, was and will still be played by Gavin Spokes.

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For further information about the casting of House of the Dragons, visit the HBO website.