Why ‘House of the Dragon’ Star Olivia Cooke May Look Familiar

Olivia Cooke made her debut as the older version of Alicent Hightower in episode 6 of House of the Dragon. The Game of Thrones prequel has several rising stars in its cast, but Cooke is a name audiences might have heard before. Here is where you may have seen Cooke outside of House of the Dragon

Olivia Cooke plays Alicent Hightower in ‘House of the Dragon’

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon
Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower | Ollie Upton/ HBO

House of the Dragon is unique in its storytelling because it features a narrative that spans several decades, so it constantly jumps time between episodes. The first five episodes featured Emily Carey playing a younger Alicent who marries King Viserys and gives birth to his first-born son. Episode 6 featured a 10-year time jump where Alicent is now older and is now being played by Cooke. 

Olivia Cooke’s version of Alicent is already different than Carey’s portrayal. Alicent has dedicated her life to her children and the desires of her husband and father. She has become frustrated with her lack of autonomy, and it is reaching a boiling point. She is also becoming more fed up with Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and how she could do whatever she wanted without facing any consequences. 

What else has Olivia Cooke starred in?

Outside of House of the Dragon, Olivia Cooke is in the middle of a booming career with several leading roles in prolific projects. Her IMDb page shows she had her first role in a TV mini-series called Blackout followed by several film roles in The Quiet Ones and Ouija. Her breakout role was in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, receiving praise for her performance as Rachel. 

The role she might be recognized most for is Art3mis in Ready Player One, the adaptation of the popular book directed by Steven Spielberg. Additionally, she starred in Thoroughbreds and Sound of Metal. She recently starred in Slow Horses, a new series on Apple TV+, also starring Gary Oldman. 

Cooke wanted to portray a different interpretation of Alicent

It does make sense that House of the Dragon brought in new cast members for the time jump as Alicent and Rhaenyra are essentially two different characters. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cooke talked about the approach she wanted to bring to the older Alicent, saying she wanted to give her more autonomy. She even ignored notes from the showrunners who wanted her to play Alicent as “a woman for Trump.”

“I just didn’t want to give them any more mental real estate than they already had,” Cooke says. “So I tried to find a different route into her, but I could see what they were saying with this complete indoctrination and denial of her own autonomy and rights. I just couldn’t be asked to go down that road.”

“You’re seeing her struggle with her womanhood and the power that she does have to play that is completely separate from her husband or her father or even her children,” Cooke continues. “And also just moralistically where she stands when she isn’t listening to her father anymore.”

It isn’t clear how long Olivia Cooke will play Alicent in House of the Dragon, but she is already establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with. House of the Dragon is streaming on HBO Max. 

RELATED: ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 6: Showrunner Reveals Why [SPOILER]’s Death Scene Differed From the Book