House of the Dragon: Olivia Cooke opens up about her audition process and fan expectations

Olivia Cooke at Life Itself European Premiere. Royal Bank of Canada Gala during the 62nd BFI London Film Festival, 15th October 2018
Olivia Cooke will star as Alicent Hightower in HBO’s House of the Dragon. Pic credit: ©

Ever since news dropped regarding HBO’s upcoming prequel series, House of the Dragon, news has been scant.

However, Olivia Cooke has recently opened up about not only her auditioning process in order to score the role of Alicent Hightower but how fan scrutiny will affect her.

House of the Dragon is set in the Game of Thrones universe.

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Events in it will occur some 300 years prior to those that unfolded in HBO’s original hit epic fantasy series.

Only a few names have been officially linked to House of the Dragon, one of those being Cooke.

“She’s the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms,” said HBO regarding Cooke’s character.

“She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.”

Publicity image for HBO's House of the Dragon
Promo image from HBO’s House of the Dragon. Pic credit: HBO

Auditioning for House of the Dragon was a drawn-out process

Cooke gave details of the arduous auditioning process that went into scoring the role of Alicent.

According to Metro, Cooke tried out a multitude of times before learning that she had won the coveted role.

Then, when the auditioning process was complete, she still had to wait six months before she was told she had been successful. During that time, she was sworn to secrecy and couldn’t reveal to anyone that she had even tried out for House of the Dragon.

Even after she found out, she still had to remain silent until the press release had been sent out.

“I had best friends of mine being like, ‘What? Why didn’t you tell us?’ I was so scared that someone was going to come and abduct me and make me disappear,” Cooke told Good Morning America.

Olivia Cooke is no stranger to book fandoms

Game of thrones — and by extension, House of the Dragon — was based on a very successful book series by author George R. R. Martin. Because of this, the TV series already had a built-in audience. Then, when the series took off on HBO, the fandom increased to epic proportions.

HBO was often deploying methods to keep fans in the dark regarding upcoming storylines. It is expected that House of the Dragon could very well follow suit when it finally premieres.

As to how Cooke will handle the situation, she told Too Fab that she wasn’t quite prepared for it but, neither was she scared.

“I don’t want that to affect my performance or how I approach the character, so I’m trying to not really think about that, just block it out and deal with it when I have to,” she continued.

Cooke previously stared in the movie, Real Player One, which is also based on a hugely popular book.

Olivia Cooke stared as Samantha in the movie Ready Player One
Olivia Cooke stared as Samantha in Ready Player One. Pic credit: Warner Bros

When asked about her role in that movie and whether it prepared her for House of the Dragon, she suggested that it had.

She also stated that even though there was likely a large portion of fan expectation regarding the upcoming prequel series, that it was impossible to make everyone happy, and that was something she learned from being in Real Player One.

“You cannot please everyone, so I think you got to drop that before you even start a project that you know has a fandom already attached to it,” she explained.

Of course, it will not be clear until House of the Dragon airs whether or not it will draw the fanaticism that occurred with Game of Thrones and viewers will just have to wait and see whether or not it reaches their expectations.

Season 1 of House of the Dragon will premiere on HBO at a later date.

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