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How House Of The Dragon's Emily Carey Added A Unique Spin To Alicent Hightower

HBO's "House of the Dragon" is on its way to the small screen and will give "Game of Thrones" fans a bit of a history lesson. Set around 200 years before the events of the original series, the show chronicles the reign of House Targaryen as it begins to fold in on itself. In telling this tale of deception and political power plays, the series boasts plenty of dragons and a cast full of characters fans have never seen in live action. Two of the most important of the bunch are Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) and Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke).

A skilled dragon rider, Rhaenyra's family anticipates she will rule over the Seven Kingdoms after her father, King Viserys. Meanwhile, Alicent — the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower — has lived in the Red Keep for most of her life and has since become a close confidante of the king. She practically grew up among the Targaryens, including Rhaenyra, which "House of the Dragon" will explore to some extent. For these flashback sequences, Milly Alcock and Emily Carey have signed on to play young Rhaenyra and Alicent, respectively.

While both of these characters have their origins in George R.R. Martin's written works, that hasn't prevented the actors behind them from tweaking them a bit for television. Here's how Emily Carey altered Alicent Hightower for "House of the Dragon."

Carey added some details of her own to Alicent's backstory

On July 26, 2022, Looper attended a press event for "House of the Dragon" and got the chance to hear from the cast of the series. Emily Carey shed some light on her experience working on the program and what it was like to bring a younger Alicent Hightower to life. She explains that to truly get into the mind of her character and establish a strong understanding of her, she kept an in-character journal. Carey goes on to reveal that she actually came up with the detail that Alicent's mother died before the events of the show. "I was like, 'Hey, can I make something up? Because I need some kind of context," she said, recalling that she further fleshed out that idea, and it went a long way in enriching Alicent and Rhaenyra's dynamic.

Based on Emily Carey's comments, her addition to Alicent Hightower's characterization helped her with her role immensely. Although, since it's not rooted in any existing "Game of Thrones" media, one has to wonder how HBO audiences will respond. After all, die-hard fans and George R.R. Martin alike have never shied away from calling out the "Game of Thrones" show when it deviated from the source material. As the author told Time in 2018, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss occasionally went in different directions than he would've liked. "I would always favor sticking with the books, while they would favor making changes," Martin stated, adding that the show's omission of Lady Stoneheart was particularly disappointing.

At the end of the day, there's nothing wrong with straying away from source media if it's for the betterment of the story. Surely Emily Carey's alterations to Alicent Hightower's life will only benefit the character and "House of the Dragon" as a whole.

The ten-episode HBO Original drama HOUSE OF THE DRAGON debuts SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO