House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke talk about the developing relationship between their characters. Originally portrayed by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, Rhaenyra and Alicent are introduced in House of the Dragon as childhood friends, with a unique and caring bond that grows deeper when Rhaenyra’s mother dies. The two girls, both affected by their existence in a patriarchal society, experience a major setback in their relationship when Alicent marries Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine).
Despite the differences between Alicent and Rhaenyra, the two women continue to share a deep and complex relationship as the series evolves, due to their history and lingering familial connections. In the most recent episode, the two seem to have finally reconciled after over a decade of tension, sharing an affectionate moment after a family dinner. However, the death of King Viserys is likely to push them into further hostility as they clash over who has a claim on the Iron Throne. Even though the women are destined to be enemies, the intimacy between them, present since their teen years, is still going strong, according to the actors.
While speaking with The New York Times, D’Arcy and Cooke address their characters’ connection to one another. D’Arcy mentions Rhaenyra’s “deep desire to be known and seen,” implying that Alicent is one of the few people that has seen her in that way. Cooke refers to Alicent’s deep repression due to her mission to adhere to her duties, though she acknowledges that the character has a desire “to reach out to Rhaenyra again.” Check out what they have to say below:
D’Arcy: That sort of erotic energy is very present in their early relationship. I think Rhaenyra is primarily motivated by a deep desire to be known and seen. The hurt and pain is so dominant that I don’t know if there’s a space, at this point, for a conscious interaction with sexual lust, but she definitely yearns for the old physical intimacy that they shared. It’s different from what she shares with her current husband and her children. A different form of contact.
Cooke: I don’t know if Alicent knows what it feels like to feel those things now. There’s layers and layers of repression; sexuality and lust are probably a prehistoric, sedimentary layer by now. From Alicent’s point of view, I don’t think she’s that self-aware, in terms of what she’s feeling, to know what’s propelling her to reach out to Rhaenyra again.
Can Alicent & Rhaenyra Ever Reconcile?
Though the older and younger Alicent and Rhaenyra actors didn’t interact much on set, according to reports, it’s clear that both sets of actors had a similar take on the women’s intimate friendship. Of course, those details, while providing crucial subtext for many of Alicent and Rhaenyra’s actions, aren’t likely to manifest on-screen, as both actors hint. Based on the trajectory of the series, the princess and queen consort will be moving further away from one another emotionally than ever before as they find themselves on opposite sides of the succession debate and consequently, the war.
While Alicent and Rhaenyra, under different circumstances, could potentially reconcile, the battle that they’re destined for will only further the hostility between them. Viserys’ final words will serve to drive the wedge even further between the women, since Alicent is certain to misinterpret them and believe he wishes for her son to take the throne rather than Rhaenyra. Though seeing the affection between the women resurface would be heartwarming, House of the Dragon episode 9 will likely see Alicent and Rhaenyra start to burn the bridges between them.
Next: What Viserys Says At The End Of HOTD Episode 8 (& What It Really Means)
Source: The New York Times