Hopefully, she’s right.
In an interview with British news outlet the Telegraph, Olivia Cooke spoke about House of the Dragon, HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series about the “Dance of the Dragons,” the Targaryen civil war that occurred hundreds of years before Ned Stark journeyed to Kings’ Landing and made some very bad choices. Cooke said the show makes her nervous because of the reaction to Game of Thrones’ final season, which is perfectly understandable:
This dance (of the dragons) card is starting to fill up. Ready Player One’s Olivia Cooke, Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, and Truth Seekers’ Emma D’Arcy have signed onto HBO’s next journey into Westeros: House of the Dragon. It’s about the fall of Targaryen empire, which led to the rise of...Read more
“I’m a bit nervous about the new one. You’re never gonna please everyone, so I’ve just got to not listen to that stuff.”
That’s a very good call especially for an actor who has been candid in the past about her struggles with anxiety and depression. However, she could take some solace in the fact that unlike Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon already has an ending. The lengthy conflict has already been mapped out in full by George R.R. Martin in Fire & Blood, although it reads much more like a history book of Westeros than a novel.
More importantly, Cooke thinks House of the Dragon won’t be featuring gratuitous scenes of violence towards women, which was the biggest criticism of Game of Thrones, at least until the final season came out:
“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 tantalising in a way that gets viewers,” she says. “I was lucky enough to read the script before, and it has changed a lot from the first few seasons. I don’t think they’d be in their right minds to include any of that any more.”
I assume she means the pilot script for House of the Dragon is very different from the first few seasons of Game of Thrones, which is an encouraging sign; however, a pilot is not a full season nor an entire series. Still, given how HBO needs the franchise to win back viewers after the extremely disliked season eight, it would be weird for the show to ignore such an obvious problem with the original.
Cooke will play Alicent Hightower, the queen of Westeros and wife to King Viseryes Targaryen the first (Paddy Considine). This Viserys is entirely different from the awful Viserys II seen in Game of Thrones’ first season, as he’s a good guy who genuinely cares for his subjects. Of course, since this is set in the world of GoT, his benevolent rule leads directly into the Targaryen family imploding and engulfing the Seven Kingdoms in a dragon-heavy war.
Cooke and Smith will star along with Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, Rhys Ifans, and more very good British actors. The HBO show is currently scheduled for some point in 2022.