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Riley Utley

House Of The Dragon's Emma D’Arcy Explains The Intense ‘Three Month’ Audition They Went Through To Play Rhaenyra Targaryen

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon Season 1 finale

It’s no secret that House of the Dragon is an intense show to make. From brutal action sequences to explicit sex scenes to incredibly deep and profound drama that includes complex fantasy vocabulary the show can’t be easy to make, and it turns out it wasn’t easy to audition for either. Emma D’Arcy, who plays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen opened up about their audition, and let’s just say this “three-month” process sounded like a lot. 

Now that Season 1 of House of the Dragon has been out for a while and Season 2 of the Game of Thrones prequel is on its way, it’s hard to imagine D’Arcy having to audition, because they’re so magnificent in the show. However, while speaking about how scary it was to say yes to such a massive series, the actor also detailed their audition process, and just how intense it was, telling THR:

Then I auditioned [via self-tape] for three months during the pandemic after losing a year of work, so in some ways, I think my hands were tied. Halfway through the process, the then-showrunner, Miguel Sapochnik, called to ask me if I owned a wig. A proper person would’ve asked someone who does hair for advice.

They went on to say between them and their partner they stuck hair that they had from another job on their head, and then proceeded to do a self-tape. That audition process then lasted for three months and at the end, D’Arcy had a four-hour in-person audition as they said:

I auditioned for three months. At the end of that, I did a four-hour in-person audition. And then I didn’t hear anything.

Like most people I’d imagine, Jennifer Coolidge, who was part of the THR roundtable, couldn’t help but follow up about the four-hour audition. She asked D’Arcy what it was like, and the Rhaenyra actor went into detail about their entire experience saying: 

I feel like, by the end of three months, I had taped every scene in the show. Because they took a punt on me, I guess, in that I couldn’t bring an audience. I just remember that it was good for a while and then it was awful. And then after a few hours, they said, ‘Great, you can go home and get drunk, we’ll be in touch.’ Then Miguel came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Can we do one more?’

Among the principal House of the Dragon cast, D’Arcy was not the best-known actor of the bunch. It’s also commonly known that audition processes for massive projects of this scale can have secretive, long and intense tryouts. However, this feels like it was on another level, as the actor also had to tape themselves filming scenes they didn’t even do in the show because the first half of HOTD features younger actors as various characters, including Rhaenyra and Alicent. 

However, the actor who plays the older version of Rhaenyra did the scenes, and said they ended up filming what felt like the entire show throughout the audition process. D’Arcy continued to speak about the experience, saying:

It was the virtuosic performance of my life. And they got me to tape [as the character] across the series, even though I’d only play the older character.

Talk about intense! I guess this is one way to really make sure you have the right actor for the part, and they 100% got the right person for Rhaenyra, because Emma D’Arcy is a true force. 

I’d imagine that while it was intense, this process did help prepare them to shoot House of the Dragon. Matt Smith has said filming the show was a lot at times, and Paddy Considine explained that he actually was injured while shooting Viserys’ final scene. On top of that, this period drama features high-fantasy concepts, CGI dragons and the pressure of being the follow-up to Game of Thrones. In other words, this show has to be a real challenge to make. However, the cast and crew proved over their first season that they’re more than up for the challenge.

If you want to go back and watch Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen you can stream House of the Dragon with a Max subscription

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