Emily Carey on Leaving ‘Home of the Dragon’ and Alicent’s Revolt in Episode 5
Emily Carey is leaving. Until you’re well-practiced within the explicit artwork of spoiler-dodging on-line, you knew this was coming. HBO has been forthcoming about little or no in terms of their hit Sport of Thrones prequel sequence, House of the Dragon, however they’ve been clear about this: After episode 5, the actresses portraying Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower can be changed with older ones, because of a major mid-season time leap. Emma D’Arcy will take over for Milly Alcock, and Olivia Cooke for Carey. However anticipating the transfer does little to melt the precise blow, given how audiences have related with Alcock and Carey’s model of those characters.
Carey, 19, is grateful for the appreciation, if a little bit relieved she’s not locked right into a multi-year contract. And she or he’s maybe not unblissful she needn’t painting the extra ruthless model of Alicent, a sworn enemy of Rhaenyra within the coming Dance of the Dragons civil warfare. Carey’s younger Alicent just isn’t a villain, as Carey herself proclaimed to an viewers at San Diego Comedian-Con earlier this 12 months. On the time, fans weren’t thrilled with this concept. However in hindsight, it’s true: Her Alicent is a sufferer greater than an instigator, a witless baby pressured to play the video games of a poisonous hierarchy. Solely in episode 5 does she make the primary in a protracted string of energy strikes, lashing out for a sliver of management.
That episode 5 scene, by which Carey wears the colours of Home Hightower to sign her loyalties at Rhaenyra’s nuptials, took quite a few takes for Carey to get proper. It was her closing shot, her parting present to a sequence that has already begun to alter the Surprise Girl actress’s life. However she’s proud of the place she leaves Alicent as Cooke takes over.
“I had these butterflies in my abdomen, and I used to be like, ‘That is the second, Em. That is the final take,’” Carey says. “‘That is your final huge second on this present. You’ve received to make it and make it occur.’ I channeled that from Emily’s thought course of, which went very naturally into Alicent’s ideas of, ‘That is your huge second. You’re making your entrance.’”
Under, Carey discusses with ELLE.com how she settled into the world of Westeros with little preliminary familiarity, how she grew snug appearing alongside Alcock and Paddy Considine, and whether or not she would think about returning to the function sooner or later.
Since you weren’t initially a Thrones superfan, what was your entry level to this function? The place did you begin to acquaint your self with this huge world, so that you’d perceive it when you had been in it?
It’s loads. I don’t suppose I can recall my entry level. To begin with, our present is—there’s a lot newness [apart from] Sport of Thrones. Sure, there’s loads that correlates and responds, but additionally we’re a prequel. The books gave me much more context as to the world and the historical past behind it than Sport of Thrones [the show] did.
However what was nice about Thrones was watching it put into context what was at stake for these characters. I attempted watching it the second that I booked [Dragon]. I used to be additionally making an attempt to learn our script on the identical time. And as I mentioned, I’m not into this style in any respect; I a lot desire a tacky rom-com, which isn’t actually in Thrones. So there was type of a language barrier. It felt very Shakespearean, which is one thing that I’m not used to.
So I’d learn it and be like, “Maintain on. This particular person isn’t really that particular person as a result of their names sound the identical, however then that’s a spot, not an individual.” It was so complicated. After which after all, making an attempt to observe the unique present on the identical time? I used to be getting so misplaced, so I’d pause for a bit. After which I picked up each time I had breaks while we had been taking pictures. By Christmas, I managed to observe all of it.
As a viewer of Thrones and as an actress on Dragon, how would you describe the distinction between the 2? Not a lot when it comes to plot, however in mentality and aesthetic and strategy?
I believe, for me, the principle distinction was strategy. How the inventive crew and the producers approached this present, compared to the unique, was very, very totally different. As a 17-year-old younger lady coming onto this present, by no means having seen Sport of Thrones earlier than, and simply watching that first season in a single go—I used to be a bit like, “That is actually scary. What are they going to make me do on this present?”
It was daunting. After which, the second I stepped into the rehearsal room, that they had an open dialogue going about feminism and girls on this present, and the way the intimacy scenes had been going to be dealt with, and a mess of different issues. And [those concerns] had been type of put to mattress very, in a short time. And all of us felt very snug. So I believe the strategy for this, a minimum of, from season 1 of Sport of Thrones may be very, very totally different.
I believe visual-wise, after all, we’re seeing the Targaryen dynasty at its peak. That is probably the most extravagant it ever was in its historical past. So I believe, visually, it’s much more magnificent than Thrones.
Within the e book, Alicent is a fairly apparent villain. We’re meant to see her as such. However within the present, there’s rather more enlargement into why she makes the alternatives she makes, the methods she’s pressured from childhood into these choices, how she’s a product of her environment. And we would have liked to really feel that rigidity most keenly between you and Milly Alcock, who performs Younger Rhaenyra. I’m curious how the 2 of you jumped into that dynamic, realizing how a lot of the present hung in your reference to one another.
I believe we had been fairly fortunate, within the sense that Milly and I get alongside very well in actual life as effectively. She’s like an enormous sister. She’s wonderful. She’s so cool. However we made some extent to get to know one another earlier than we stepped on set. So we FaceTimed a couple of occasions whereas she was nonetheless in Australia. Trying again on it, we had been so cute and well mannered to one another. After which we met within the rehearsal interval, and we went for drinks, and we simply talked about how loopy all of this was.
I knew, for her, she’d moved actually internationally in a world pandemic. And, for me, it was my first job as an grownup. It was my first job and not using a chaperone and being utterly by myself. So we had been simply type of clinging to one another for expensive life firstly of the method, and we nonetheless are, to be sincere.
We had been very fortunate with this to have such a protracted rehearsal interval. It type of felt like a play. It felt like theater within the rehearsals, which for me was a lot enjoyable as a result of that’s how I began. And so we labored actually arduous at this relationship, offscreen and onscreen, as a result of we knew how a lot weight it wanted to hold. As a result of, as you mentioned, it deteriorates so shortly, it’s a must to present that closeness simply straight from the get-go.
We had so many conversations and explored teenage friendship. As a result of I believe it’s one of the vital fascinating dynamics you may placed on display, a friendship between two younger teenage ladies. I believe there’s a lot depth to it, and there’s a lot you are able to do with it.
The perfect buddy that you’ve got at 14—as a lady, particularly—you suppose it’s going to be your greatest buddy endlessly. There’s no different possibility. It’s like a associate. You simply wish to be with that particular person on a regular basis, and also you suppose it’s by no means going to finish. And I actually suppose you’re by no means going to have that closeness ever once more. It’s toeing the road between platonic and romantic as a result of it’s simply all-consuming love for that one particular person. And in order that’s one thing that we talked about loads, and I believe it was so vital.
One of many issues I liked all through your scenes as Alicent was how we, as an viewers, might watch the myriad feelings transferring throughout your face. We might see the battle and the need and the disgust and the love as Alicent will get shut with Viserys. How did you and Paddy Considine make this extraordinarily unusual dynamic really feel snug for you as actors, however as difficult because it wanted to be on display?
It’s fascinating what you mentioned about having the ability to see Alicent type of biking by emotion, as a result of I bear in mind—there have been two scenes the place there have been so many various methods for me, as an actor, that I might have performed it.
The primary one is the go-visit-the-king, wear-your-mother’s gown scene with Otto. After which the scene straight following that, the place she goes in to see Viserys for the primary time. As an actor, there have been so many routes I might have taken it. And it was unimaginable to know which approach. My first correct day on set was that scene with Paddy. And so I used to be very scared.
And I bear in mind saying to Miguel [Sapochnik, co-showrunner], “How ought to I play this? As a result of it could possibly be the concern she’s alone on this room with a person, the king. It’s additionally her greatest buddy’s dad. It’s very bizarre. Is it the willpower that she must get the job executed? Is it the responsibility? Is it the greed for energy? Is it the upset that she’s been put into this case?” After which Miguel simply went, “Sure.” [Laughs.]
He was like, “Play with this confusion. Play it. Simply all of it.” I’m glad that reads on display as a result of I wished to maintain the confusion. And Paddy is, after all, an outstanding actor and in addition only a gem to work with. He’s so caring and sort. And after each take he’d have a look at me and go… [Thumbs up.] I’d be like, “I’m good. Thanks, Padds. We’re doing good. We’re doing good.” He’d verify in each time to ensure that I used to be proud of the work that we had been doing.
In fact, once more, being 17 after I began this job and studying the script going, “It’s a completely grown man. I’m very scared.” I didn’t know easy methods to react. After which me and Paddy ended up bonding over Drag Race. He’s an enormous Drag Race fan. And so am I. So unlikely friendship shaped, which I believe displays what’s on display.
I believe Alicent and Viserys bond over this shared trauma. They discover this unlikely bond, this emotional vulnerability with each other that they will’t actually have with anybody else.
In a bizarre approach, I believe Alicent is aware of easy methods to consolation him as a result of she’s seen her personal father undergo one thing related. She is aware of how males reply to feelings on this world, particularly inside the partitions of the Purple Preserve. She is aware of what it’s prefer to have an enormous quantity of stress in your shoulders.
We all the time mentioned that that they had an enormous quantity of affection for one another, however they had been by no means in love. I believe Viserys and Aemma had been one hundred pc in love, meant-to-be soulmates.
Numerous the time, Miguel would really direct Paddy when the digicam was on me as a result of he is aware of that’s how I work. He has a person course of for each particular person he works with, and he makes you are feeling such as you’re the one particular person within the room, which is so extremely rewarding. However he would discover that typically I get in my head a little bit bit. And so he’d be like, “Okay, you don’t want to consider it. I do know you. You simply work very organically.” So he’d direct Paddy and would know precisely what to inform Paddy, and Paddy would play the precise proper factor to impress the fitting response out of me, which I believe is totally fascinating.
I do know you left Twitter for some time due to Thrones followers who disagreed together with your take that Alicent just isn’t a villain. Do you continue to really feel defensive of her?
A hundred percent. I believe, when you’ve got a strongly shaped opinion of Alicent, whether or not you hate her or love her, it signifies that I’ve executed my job effectively. You understand what I imply? Nevertheless it was one thing I mentioned at Comedian-Con, all I mentioned was she just isn’t the villain, and that clip was taken out of context. And what folks didn’t see is, initially, that George [R.R. Martin] really backed me up after I mentioned it.
And he writes nice characters. That’s completely what he likes to do. He writes characters that you may root for in the future, after which they do one thing utterly disgusting the subsequent day and also you hate them for it, however you continue to wish to love them. And I believe folks neglect that after I’m speaking about Alicent I’m speaking about my Alicent. [Dragon] was so prime secret we haven’t even learn the scripts that weren’t in. So I haven’t learn Olivia’s Alicent; I haven’t seen Olivia’s Alicent.
It’s 20 years between my Alicent and hers. They’re two totally different variations of the identical particular person. Circumstance modifications that. Individuals pushing her, pushing her round. Persons are anticipating to search out this indignant lady, and so they’re now being introduced with a younger woman who’s being pushed into changing into this indignant lady. In fact, I learn the e book. I do know that she makes some questionable selections.
However I believe what’s clear within the first few episodes is that my Alicent doesn’t have a selection. And even when she’s given this privilege of selection, it’s nonetheless being made by males. The selection remains to be consistently, persistently, being made by males. And that’s what’s so heartbreaking in regards to the demise of the friendship as a result of neither [Rhaenyra or Alicent] are in management at any level within the story.
I’ll be sincere. It was tough. I might go from enjoying Alicent at 14 into Alicent at 18, Alicent with youngsters, being a grown lady, into a toddler model of Alicent, all inside the identical day. I’d go from one costume to the opposite. I’m so glad that we had the rehearsal interval as a result of, from the rehearsal interval, I might work out what every of those variations of Alicent had been.
I journaled as my character as a result of I discover that’s one thing that helps me. And, particularly with these time skips, I discovered it so helpful to have the ability to write on the finish of a rehearsal day, after which come again to it actually 5 months later and reread it time and again, and it could get me again into the precise state of mind that I used to be in that day.
I believe, by episode 4, that’s the place she’s actually discovered her ft as queen. As a result of that huge second in episode 5, the inexperienced gown second, it goes in opposition to every little thing and each approach that I’d describe Alicent in 1, 2 and three. It’s like, if I had been to explain Alicent’s character, I’d not go, “Oh yeah, she’s going to crash a marriage and put on the improper coloration and begin a warfare.” That’s not what she would do. So I needed to discover this very, very gradual journey of years and years to get to that closing level in 5, the place we see that spark of the indignant lady that Olivia is then going to play from 6 onwards.
I anticipate that scene getting a lot of traction on-line. Is it overwhelming to you, being on a sequence this gigantic in each scope and fanbase?
Inside these 4 partitions of my little flat, nothing has modified. I went out to purchase candy potatoes yesterday. It’s the primary time I’d left the home for the reason that present had got here out, had a masks on, was choosing up a reusable produce bag and filling it with candy potatoes, and somebody was like, “I like Home of Dragon!” And I used to be like, “Oh, cool.” I type of neglect that I’m in it, I suppose.
However then I’m reminded 24/7. My sponsored adverts on each type of social media: Home of Dragon, Home of Dragon. I swap on my TV, I am going to observe one thing on Now TV or Sky Information, it’s like Home of Dragon, Home of Dragon. On buses and billboards, I step outdoors my home, and the bus cease is like, Home of the Dragon. It’s overwhelming. It’s intense. I’ve been constructing a variety of Lego to manage.
I do know that is the final we count on to see of you on this present. However would you come back, ought to there be some type of flashback scene in future seasons?
I imply, in all honesty, I don’t know. This present is so extremely prime secret, even after we had been engaged on it, we weren’t even allowed hard-copy scripts; every little thing was on iPads.
If I used to be provided, I believe I’d love to return, relying on what I’m doing. However I suppose we’ll see. I imply, I’m fairly glad that I get this large profession push, and I’m not tied into one thing for 10 years. I get this huge platform, and hopefully I don’t burn out. And I can use it to maneuver on and do different cool issues. I imply once more, we’ll see. I don’t know. However, to this point, simply driving within the wave.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an affiliate editor at ELLE, the place she covers information and tradition.