Based on Martin’s novel, Fire & Blood, House of the Dragon is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen. Set to debut on Aug. 21 on HBO and HBO Max, the series is led by co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, who also directs.
The ensemble cast includes Paddy Considine (King Viserys Targaryen), Matt Smith (Prince Daemon Targaryen), Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), Emma D’Arcy (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen), Steve Toussaint (Lord Corlys Velaryon), Eve Best (Princess Rhaenys Targaryen), Fabien Frankel (Ser Criston Cole), Graham McTavish (Ser Harrold Westerling), Milly Alcock (Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen) and Emily Carey (Young Alicent Hightower).
Martin joined the cast for the panel, praising Condal's vision in adapting his written works.
"These books, these characters, are like my kids," the author shared, noting that he appreciated the difficulty in adapting the complicated, historically-influenced book. "Ryan has done a great job of adapting the books so far... I'm really very happy."
As for his own next projects, Martin joked, "There's this book that I'm writing. It's a little late," referring to The Winds of Winter, the planned sixth novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series, which was the inspiration for Game of Thrones.
While they did not show release any new footage, the cast and crew opened up about expanding the epic and sprawling world of Game of Thrones on HBO, bringing more dragons to the screen and the complicated dynamic of the Targaryen royal family.
Considine described King Viserys as a "kind man," noting, "that's why he was chosen as king."
"He fiercely tries to keep everyone together, but this is Westeros," Condal said of the king.
However, his brother, the heir to the throne may think differently, with Smith explaining that Daemon and Viserys have "quite a complicated relationship." Smith explained that he was quite excited to take on a most sinister character, following his stint as the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who: "I was actively trying to play something different."
D'Arcy shared that her character, the king's daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, is "fueled by fire," adding that "she's figuring out when to let that fire burn and when to dampen it."
Best plays Viserys' cousin, who was passed over for the throne, and is "pissed off" at having been overlooked. And things may be in turmoil sooner rather than later, with Consindine warning that his character is carrying a secret that will eventually come to light.
In discussing his inspirations for the series, Martin offered a hint as to why Rhaenys may have been passed over for the throne -- and why, as Best noted, the idea of a female-led kingdom is one of House of the Dragon's central questions. "I'm inspired by history," the author shared. "Game of Thrones is very loosely based on the War of the Roses. This book is loosely based on the era of The Anarchy.”
Best shared that she journaled in character as young Alicent Hightower while on set, hoping to "fill in the gaps" of her character.
"Lots of people are expecting her to be the villain of the show," the young actress shared. "It was so much fun to be able to go in-depth with her."
Her elder counterpart, Cooke, admitted that there is "massive pressure" on the cast, given the enormity of the Game of Thrones fanbase. "[We want] to give you guys what you want and also put our own stamp on it."
Toussaint's character, known as the "Sea Snake" is a "self-made man" and the most famous seafarer in Westeros, having undergone nine famous voyages -- though, in a cruel twist of fate, the actor admitted he actually gets seasick!
The series is true to its name in more ways than one. In addition to its focus on the Targaryen family, Condal promised that there will be 17 dragons at one point in the series, all with their own unique traits, looks and personalities.
“There's much yet to come," the EP promised, who also hinted at a possible second season during his panel discussion, but didn't announce any official confirmation.