Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Fire and blood are raining down on House of the Dragon, HBO's Game of Thrones prequel about the Targaryen dynasty. The series just started production and the cast has started filming. Leaked set photos reveal actor Matt Smith's transformation from The Crown's Prince Philip to a Targaryen prince. HBO also recently shared pics of the House of the Dragon cast at a table read.

Winter already came and went on Game of Thrones, which concluded its eight-season run in May 2019. HBO wanted to follow up on the biggest show in its history, so the network began developing five potential Game of Thrones spinoffs. They moved forward with one: House of the Dragon.

Writer Ryan Condal (Colony) and Game of Thrones veteran director Miguel Sapochnik will serve as co-showrunners. Sapochnik directed blockbuster Game of Thrones episodes, including Hardhome, The Long Night and the Emmy-winning Battle of the Bastards.

When is the House of the Dragon release date?

Don't expect House of the Dragon to reach our screens for at least another couple years. Before the pandemic threatened to delay production, HBO's Casey Bloys speculated it would release "sometime in 2022," adding that the script was already being written. A trailer for HBO Max in Latin America has additionally doubled down on House of the Dragon being released in 2022. However, with COVID-induced delays, a release date later than that could be on the cards.

Who's in the House of the Dragon cast?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The most recent casting news from HBO revealed that Fabien Frankel (who recently appeared in the Netflix and BBC One crime series, The Serpent) will play Ser Criston Cole, common-born, Dornish son to the Steward of the Lord of Blackhaven. Variety describes Cole as having "no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name, his honor, and his preternatural skill with a sword".

Steve Toussaint, Rhys Ifans, Eve Best, and Sonoya Mizuno also recently joined the project. Toussaint will play Lord Corlys Velaryon, a powerful lord of House Velaryon (a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen) and the most notorious nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros with the world's largest navy.

Ifans will play Otto Hightower, the loyal Hand of the King, while Best will be Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, a dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon. Mizuno, meanwhile, will play Mysaria, a woman who arrived in Westeros with nothing, but rose through the ranks to become the most trusted ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne.

Then we've got Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith, who will play Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Prince Daemon Targaryen respectively, while Olivia Cooke has signed on to play Alicent Hightower. The two Targaryen royals play key roles in the climactic Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war that takes up a large chunk of George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood, the novel on which House of the Dragon is based. Expect to see these characters play major roles in the events of House of the Dragon, and given their lasting presence in the book, it's likely we'll see them across several seasons. Though, as Game of Thrones proved, TV series aren't always 100 per cent faithful to their source work.

Cooke has spoken a little about the series, saying there will not be any gratuitous violence against women, which Thrones was accused of on multiple occasions. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable in being a part of anything that has just egregious graphic violence towards women for no reason whatsoever, just because they want it to be tantalizing in a way that gets viewers," she said. "I was lucky enough to read the [prequel] script before, and it has changed a lot from the first few seasons [of Thrones]. I don’t think they’d be in their right minds to include any of that any more.”

In October, the series' lead was announced: Paddy Considine as King Viserys I, an ancestor of everyone's favorite Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. Viserys is chosen by the Lords of Westeros to succeed the Iron Throne and apparently wants to innocently carry on his grandfather's legacy. However, as the original series showed us, good men don't always make good leaders.

Fire & Blood features a lineup of Targaryen rulers from Aegon I to his sons, Aenys I and Maegor I, all the way up to Aegon III. We expect even more silver-haired dragonriders to take the reign as casting details continue opening up in the (presumably) near future.

House of the Dragon episodes

Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO

House of the Dragon will consist of 10 episodes. While we don't know the episode titles yet, HBO has revealed the directors.

House of the Dragon season 1 directors include Clare Kilner (EastEnders), Geeta Patel (The Witcher) and Greg Yaitanes (House). They join Miguel Sapochnik, who was previously announced as the director of the pilot.

House of the Dragon trailer

House of the Dragon does not have a trailer yet.

HBO could include a mention of the series in the network's next big look-ahead teaser for upcoming shows in 2022.

****READ MORE: Handmaid's Tale season 4: Release Date, Trailer, Cast, Plot and How to Watch

House of the Dragon set photos

HBO released the first set photos from House of the Dragon, marking the start of production on the show. One of the pics, shared on Twitter, provides a look at the cast members at a socially-distanced table read.

HBO also tweeted out individual images of the House of Dragon cast members at the table read, which a fan on Instagram helpfully put together in a collage. It includes Considine, Smith, Cooke, Toussaint, D'Arcy and Ifans.

The first set photos of the cast filming scenes have emerged. Matt Smith and Emma D'Arcy were spotted filming on a beach in Cornwall, England. They're both sporting wigs to have the white-blond hair of Targaryens. Smith is Prince Daemon, while D'Arcy is Princess Rhaenyra. More on the characters below.

(Image credit: HBO)
(Image credit: HBO)
Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter
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