Since its dramatic conclusion in 2019, Game of Thrones fans eagerly awaited the release of the first prequel series, House of the Dragon. And, finally, in 2022, the new series debuted. And, despite a sizable amount of critiques from fans (and critics) about how dark the series was (as in too dark to actually watch comfortably on TV without eyestrain), ultimately, the series was a massive success for HBO, now Max.
Set hundreds of years before the events of the original show, this new venture into the realm of Westeros promises to delve into the captivating history of the Seven Kingdoms. And, as we wait for the show’s upcoming second season, here are some fun facts that fans may or may not know about House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon Is Loosely Based on True Events
Much like Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon is loosely based on true events. The GOT prequel is based on The Anarchy, an English Civil War that happened in the 12th Century.
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin discussed the inspiration for House of the Dragon at Comic-Con in 2022, saying, “Henry I, the King of England, his only legitimate son drowned while trying to cross the English channel. That left him with only one legitimate child, his daughter Matilda. He named her his heir and made all the Lords of the Kingdom swear an oath to her. And when he died, most of the lords of the kingdom forgot about that oath or said, ‘No it doesn’t apply’.”
“Her cousin Stehen, then crosses the channel and takes control. It begins this period, The Anarchy, where Matilda and Stephen fought. That was the inspiration.” he added.
Two Experts from Game of Thrones Worked on House of the Dragon
Being part of the franchise, it doesn’t seem surprising to have people who worked on Game of Thrones come over to work on the prequel.
Director Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy for directing the Battle of the Bastards episode of GOT, is working on House of the Dragon. Sapochnik also helmed other iconic Game of Thrones episodes, including Hardhome, The Winds of Winter, and The Long Night. He also serves as co-showrunner of the prequel.
Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi is also working on the music for the prequel. Djawadi won two Emmy awards for his music on the show in 2018 and 2019. The award-winning compositions were in the GOT episodes The Dragon and the Wolf and The Long Night.
Shortly after Season 1 premiered, Sapochnik announced that he wouldn’t be returning to Season 2 as showrunner. Sapochnik will still be attached to the prequel but as executive producer. Alan Taylor, who also directed Game of Thrones episodes, will be coming in to direct the upcoming season.
George R.R. Martin Chose the Creator of the GOT Prequel
Martin was closely involved in the making of the Game of Thrones prequel, even so far as choosing who would create the series. The author chose Ryan Condal to create House of the Dragon. In a blog post, Martin said he was impressed by how the show turned out after watching nine episodes of season one.
“Ryan and Miguel and their cast and crew are doing great work. Those of you who like complex, conflicted, gray characters (as I do) will like this series, I think. There will be plenty of dragons and battles, to be sure, but the spine of the story is the human conflicts, the love and the hate, character drama rather than action/adventure,” wrote Martin, adding that the show improved King Viserys.
“I am vastly impressed by the show’s version of King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, who gives the character a tragic majesty that my book Viserys never quite achieved. Kudos to Paddy, Ryan and his writers, and Miguel and the other directors,” wrote Martin.
House of the Dragon Initially Wasn’t the First Spinoff Series
That’s right, House of the Dragon wasn’t supposed to be the first spinoff of the show. The original spinoff that was going to be developed was called Bloodmoon, created by Jane Goldman. Naomi Watts and Jamie Campbell were slated to lead the series.
Bloodmoon is set during the Age of Heroes, 8,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones. The show was set to depict The Long Night and the origins of the White Walkers.
However, the series was canceled following negative reviews from HBO after reviewing the pilot episode, resulting in House of the Dragon becoming the first official spinoff.
House of the Dragon Season 1 Cost $20 Million Per Episode
The prequel’s first season cost much more than any season of Game of Thrones.
The first few seasons of Game of Thrones cost around $6 million per episode, while its last season had $15 million per episode. The reported budget per House of the Dragon episode was $20 million, making the overall budget of the first season $200 million. This makes the show one of HBO’s most expensive series.
Alicent and Rhaenyra Were Not Childhood Friends in the Books
Fans of the books were likely surprised to see the change House of the Dragon did in aging down Alicent Hightower to make her a childhood friend of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. In Fire & Blood, Alicent is actually nine years older than Rhaenyra. And, she first arrived at the Red Keep to help care for King Jaehaerys – the predecessor of King Viserys.
Also in the book, it’s never mentioned that Alicent and Rhaenyra were close before her marriage to Viserys.
Matt Smith Was the Only Choice to Play Daemon Targaryen
Condal revealed that Matt Smith was the only actor in discussion to play the role of the rebellious prince in an interview with Den of Geek.
“Matt is really the only person we talked about,” said Condal. “We would say, ‘Like a Matt Smith or a Matt Smith type’ when talking about Daemon. I just absolutely loved his work on The Crown as Prince Philip who somewhat ironically is a similar character. He’s the second fiddle, in that case of the Queen of England, his own wife, and is a bit adrift. Daemon is similarly a bit of a rogue prince trying to find his footing and place in the world.”
When news about Smith’s casting broke out, fans were quick to express disappointment. Luckily, the actor was able to change their minds by delivering one of the best performances in the show’s first season.
More Game of Thrones Spinoffs In the Works
HBO, now Max, is still looking to develop more spin-offs following the success of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. Some of the upcoming spinoffs will focus on other fan-favorite characters.
One series will follow Jon Snow’s adventures beyond The Wall after the events of Game of Thrones. Kit Harrington is said to be reprising his role in the project.
Another series focuses on Corlys Velaryon as well as an adaptation of “Tales of Dunk and Egg” which also takes place before the events of GOT. Three other Game of Thrones-related animated shows are also in development.