House of the Dragon’s Olivia Cooke on Her Most Difficult Scene

Tom Glynn-Carney and Olivia Cooke on House of the Dragon

Photo: Liam Daniel/HBO

House of the Dragon elevated itself very quickly from being “that new Game of Thrones spin-off” to must-watch appointment TV, thanks in no small part to the extreme drama experienced by its well-acted characters. Olivia Cooke’s Alicent Hightower—daughter, queen, mother—had more than her share of trials, but the actor was able to single out one moment that stood out more than most.

“In episode eight, the scene with [servant girl] Dyana where she tells me that my son raped her … I had to hit Tom [Glynn-Carney, who plays Aegon] really hard,” Cooke said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “And Tom was like, ‘No, just hit me.’ The first go-around, I clipped him on his chin. And he was like, “No, just really wall at me,” and I just really fucking went for it to the point where it echoed all the way through the hall, and my hand suddenly had a heartbeat. Luckily the camera’s on Tom, and I was completely taken out of the scene [because I was] trying to suppress a really awkward laugh. God knows what it did to his face. … We only did it once or maybe twice. But it was like, ‘Oh my God, don’t mess with you.’”

Episode eight was a particularly important one for Alicent, and Cooke made sure she was prepared to convey all the heightened emotions it requred. “Sara Hess wrote that episode, so I spoke endlessly with her and [director] Geeta Patel. It’s such a gross situation that Alicent has to be in … you have to in that moment think about what Alicent herself truly stands for, and that’s for her children and for order,” Cooke said. “Her first thought is to love and protect her son as much as possible … but at the same time, her humanity gets the better of her and she can’t help but really feel for this girl — but then an iron shield has to come in. There’s a task at hand, and that’s to, one, reprimand Aegon, but also to quiet anyone who knows. It was just such a grim scene to film, and it was an eerie, quiet, subdued atmosphere on set that day.”

When asked if the House of the Dragon cast ever needed to “decompress” after filming the show’s more traumatic scenes, Cooke answered in the affirmative and added that plans are already underway to figure out where to gather next season. “A lot of the show’s [filmed] in Watford … next season, we’re saying we need to find a local pub in Watford, where we can go and just have a drink and just be like, ‘What the fuck did we just do?’”

Head to the Hollywood Reporter to read the full interview. House of the Dragon’s first season is now streaming on HBO Max.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.

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