‘House of the Dragon’ Adult Rhaenyra Actor Emma D’Arcy Understands if You Don’t Like the Time Jump Recasting

House of the Dragon Episode 6 featured a 10-year time jump that could be jarring to some audiences. Characters are in entirely different places narratively than last week, and several actors have been switched out. Episode 6 feels like an entirely new season for House of the Dragon, and Emma D’Arcy, who plays the older Rhaenyra Targaryen, understands if audiences aren’t fans of the time jump recasting.

‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 6 introduces new cast members

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra in 'House of the Dragon' episode 6
Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra | Ollie Upton/HBO

Many fans were disappointed to say goodbye to Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who portrayed Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower in the first five episodes of House of the Dragon. Episode 6 features a lengthy time jump, meaning Rhaenyra and Alicent are older and look quite different than they did in episode 5. D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke debut in episode 6 as the older versions of these characters. 

Not only are they older, but a lot happened within the time jump. Rhaenyra had multiple children, including a new son at the beginning of the episode. Meanwhile, Alicent grows weary of leaving Rhaenyra as heir and wants her son, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), to become the next heir. Alicent and Rhaenyra are making moves to ensure they control the Iron Throne. 

Rhaenyra actor Emma D’Arcy understands if fans don’t like the time jump recasting

In an interview with Independent, D’Arcy discusses taking over Alcock’s role as Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon episode 6. While D’Arcy was cast before Alcock, the actor understands audiences might not be ready to move on. When viewers see them in episode 6, they might not be as open to D’Arcy’s performance since they just got used to Alcock in the role. 

“It’s complicated, isn’t it?” D’Arcy says. “It’s a difficult point at which to meet an audience. They only get me when they lose Milly, so they meet me in a place of grief, of losing someone they just spent five hours with. I’m well aware of that.”

D’Arcy says they spoke with co-star Matt Smith, who plays Daemon Targaryen and has been in two shows, The Crown and Doctor Who, where actors switch out to play the same character. 

“I had a nice chat with Matt the other day, and he said it’s like the Doctor Who curse. You’ve got to regenerate,” D’Arcy shares. “And yeah, unfortunately, Rhaenyra is going to completely change body and face in a couple of hours.”

Why does ‘House of the Dragon’ have so many time jumps?

The time jump in episode 6 is not the first in House of the Dragon, but it is the most abrupt one. Each episode prior advanced a couple of years in the story, but it didn’t feel like there were any drastic changes. Now, so much has changed that it feels like a different season. 

However, showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal believed the time jumps were necessary because they want to get to the eventual conflict but need to set up the characters correctly. House of the Dragon Season 1 is leading up to the Dance of the Dragon, the civil war within the Targaryen family. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Condal explains why it was essential to develop these characters while keeping some crucial events offscreen. 

“Most other places would not have had the patience and boldness to allow us to tell the story we’re telling,” Condal says. “But this is how you tell this story correctly. We’re telling a story of a generational war. We set everything up so by the time that first sword stroke falls, you understand all the players — where they are and why they are. All the history is there instead of being told to you in exposition. This way you get to see it all happen.” 

House of the Dragon is streaming on HBO Max. 

RELATED: ‘House of the Dragon’: Why Milly Alcock and Emily Carey Never Interacted With Their Older Counterparts