House Of The Dragon's Emma D'Arcy And Olivia Cooke Explain Why Shooting Season 2 Was Significantly Harder Than Season 1

 From left to right: Emma D'arcy as Rhaenyra looking stoic and Olivia Cooke as Alicent looking concerned in Season 2 of House of the Dragon.
From left to right: Emma D'arcy as Rhaenyra looking stoic and Olivia Cooke as Alicent looking concerned in Season 2 of House of the Dragon.

It’s no secret that filming a Game of Thrones series is difficult. Maisie Williams hurt herself with her sword on the flagship show and pulling off scenes like The Long Night Battle was intense and grueling. Now, the cast of House of the Dragon is facing the challenges that come with making a high fantasy show, and its stars, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, got real about why Season 2 has been harder to make than Season 1.

Emma D’Arcy Acknowledged The Challenges Of Filming House Of The Dragon

Going into Season 2 of HOTD – which premieres on the 2024 TV schedule on June 16 – the stakes were immediately higher for both D’Arcy and Cooke. Last season, Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower were played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, respectively for the first five episodes, and then the aforementioned actors took over for the last four installments when the princess and lady were aged up in the Game of Thrones prequel.

Now, D’Arcy and Cooke will be playing Rhaenyra and Alicent all season. Obviously, the stamina involved in creating a full season is intense, however, for D’Arcy, overall, they have had a pleasant experience. But, before they explained their thoughts on Season 2, they said this about Season 1 to EW:

Four episodes? Lovely. Do a bit of work, a few weeks off, it's perfect.

They then continued to talk about playing Rhaenyra all season, and revealed that while they enjoy the work, it’s challenging:

It was so exhausting, but also nice.

It’s always been apparent that shooting House of the Dragon is “exhausting.” Filming intense drama, battles and doing it all in a corset or armor is hard. However, while D’Arcy was fairly easy with their response, their co-star Olivia Cooke did not hold back.

Olivia Cooke Did Not Hold Back When Explaining How Hard It Is To Film House Of The Dragon

With no time jumps that involve new actors, Cooke and D’Arcy are amping up their involvement this season big time. As the House of the Dragon dueling trailers showed, the two women are at the hearts of the Greens and the Blacks as they head to war against each other. That’s a lot of pressure to carry, and playing Alicent Hightower was not easy for Cooke as she said:

Oh my God, by the end of Season 2, I was a fucking shell of myself. I was a husk. I could not form a sentence. I was so tired. I need to implement some way of getting through Season 3, if there's a Season 3, to really harness as much energy as possible. It is a behemoth.

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That sounds so incredibly difficult. However, considering the complexities of the Targaryen family tree, the impending war that has Alicent at the center of it, and her character’s intense relationships with her children, her father and Rhaenyra, I’d imagine it’s a lot to carry as an actress. So, her comments make sense.

Not to mention, production on shows like this involve long hours and uncomfortable costumes. When you mix all that together, it makes sense why Olivia Cooke was burnt out by the end of Season 2.

We’ll get to find out what these two actors and the cast of Season 2 of House of the Dragon were working on when the GOT prequel premieres on June 16. While we wait for that, you can go back and watch Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy in Season 1 by streaming it with a Max subscription.