“House of the Dragon” showrunners say they’re intentionally including a more diverse cast in the “Game of Thrones” spinoff prequel.
Co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik have crafted “reimagined” versions of characters from George R.R. Martin’s original books for the new series, which will premiere on August 21 on HBO Max. One of their ideas is adding black actors to the roster of main characters, and not as an afterthought.
“It was very important for Miguel and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen,” Condal told Entertainment Weekly. “We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show, but we didn’t want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.”
The solution presented itself when Condal spoke with Martin, who originally had thought about having the Velaryons as wealthy black conquerors who arrived in Westeros from the west.
“Once we had that idea, it just felt like everything fell into place,” Condal said.
“House of the Dragon” will explore how the House Targaryen fell after a civil war 200 years before Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) rose to power on “Game of Thrones.”
Racial diversity won’t be the only focus in “House of the Dragon.” The same EW article details how series star Emma D’Arcy, who identifies as non-binary, will depict Princess Rhaenyra. Condal emphasizes that D’Arcy’s character “is the most important role in the show, in many ways.”
According to D’Arcy, Rhaenyra is “pushing at the edges of womanhood” and “obsessed with masculinity,” per the article. She equates “maleness” with freedom.
“She is a person who feels at odds with the way that she is read by the world — even this label the Realm’s Delight, which implies a passivity, being an object of people’s ogling,” D’Arcy says.
“It’s like she has a doppelgänger. The doppelgänger is [a] Rhaenyra-born male, who has access to all the things that she craves and feels to be hers. She has this amazing connection with her uncle Daemon,” D’Arcy continues. “In some ways, they’re [of] the same fabric, and yet the rules are completely different [for them].”
Besides a lack of diversity, the original series “Game of Thrones” faced criticism for what many fans considered a terrible final season. Multiple spinoffs are currently in the works as the series remains the most popular and most lucrative in HBO’s history.