Rhaenyra Actor Kept Mixing Up High Valyrian Lines on House of Dragon


House of the Dragon’s Rhaenyra actor says she kept messing up High Valyrian lines on the set. HBO’s highly-anticipated Game of Thrones spinoff goes back 200 years in time to depict the reign of King Viserys Targaryen as recounted in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book. The series also introduces Viserys’ daughter Rhaenyra, played by both Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy.

Alcock’s young Rhaenyra is indeed a major player throughout the first few episodes of House of the Dragon. Introduced as a very young princess, who happens to ride a dragon like her descendant Daenerys, Rhaenyra soon finds herself in the middle of serious political intrigue involving her wayward uncle Daemon. Of course in the misogynistic world of Westeros, Rhaenyra tends to be underestimated by men, including her father King Viserys. But she soon proves her mettle both as a dragon-riding warrior and a shrewd backstage manipulator.

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And obviously being a Targaryen, Rhaenyra is also well-versed in the ancient tongue of High Valyrian. But actually speaking the fictional language proved somewhat of a challenge for Alcock, as she recounted during a recent appearance on The Official Game of Thrones Podcast. Alcock detailed the process she went through to “learn” Valyrian and also told a funny story about how she kept messing up her lines.

It was just kind of like learning another song in another language. I would learn the scene in English, and then I would have it printed out on a sheet. And they would have it phonetically and then they would have an audio recording. And then I would just say it. So it became muscle memory. So I didn’t have to think about what I was saying, it was just like my mouth was on auto pilot, basically. [Asked if she ever messed up and spoke gibberish] Every time. It would just be me like [speaking high Valyrian]. [Impersonates frustrated exclamation] That was our dialog coach. Or I would find myself saying old lines in High Valyrian because my mouth would know the pattern. So if they were too similar, I would find myself saying the wrong line. So it would start similarly, and I would go back and then the girl would be like, ‘Milly, that was episode 2.’ I’d be like, ‘Oh s–t sorry, my bad.’

Despite the problems she had keeping it together speaking High Valyrian, most agree Alcock has done an outstanding job playing the young Rhaenyra. Obviously dragons and action are going to be a big part of any Game of Thrones show. But performance is incredibly important too, as was proven on the original series, which featured multiple memorable characters. There was naturally going to be some question going in whether House of the Dragon would create characters as memorable as Daenerys, Jon Snow, Tyrion and others, and so far Rhaenyra is the one new character who seems like she could stand beside any fan-favorite from the first series.

Alcock’s time in the role of Rhaenyra is limited however, as the show will soon execute a time jump and the part will be handed off to D’Arcy. Fans will find out then how Rhaenyra’s power grows, and how her relationship with her childhood friend Alicent evolves into the rivalry that threatens the reign of the Targaryens. But even with just a short time on the series, and with her problems mastering the High Valyrian language, Alcock has certainly left an indelible mark on House of the Dragon and the whole Game of Thrones franchise.

Source: The Official Game of Thrones Podcast

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