House of the Dragon’s Olivia Cooke Sheds Some Light on Alicent’s State of Mind

House of the Dragon’s Olivia Cooke Sheds Some Light on Alicent’s State of Mind

House of the Dragon season two has only dropped two episodes so far, but both Team Green and Team Black have already been through the emotional wringer as the Dance of the Dragons heats up. At the center of the maelstrom is Alicent Hightower; as the Dowager Queen and mother of King Aegon II, she’s one of the most powerful people in Westeros, but that doesn’t mean she has any sense of control.

io9 spoke to Alicent herself—Olivia Cooke—as part of a recent House of the Dragon press day, and asked her about a specific moment in last night’s episode, “Rhaenyra the Cruel.”

It’s an action-packed episode; we see Alicent (once again) being used as a political pawn by her father, Hand of the King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), and made a focal point of the grim funeral extravaganza surrounding her murdered grandson. Then, we see Alicent dealing with the immediate fallout after her father is fired as Hand of the King by her petulent son, King Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney).

At the end of the episode, Alicent—who’s been less than impressed with the behavior of both Aegon and his younger brother, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell)— observes Aegon sitting alone, sobbing his eyes out. Instead of moving to comfort him, she watches him for just a beat, then silently exits the room. “I think Aemond and Aegon specifically hold the mirror [up] to the elements of herself that she despises,” Cooke said about Alicent’s reaction. “And I think his vulnerability in that moment, and his ineffectiveness, just repulses her. It really does. I think she sees everything that’s weak in him [as the same as what’s] incredibly weak—and [that] she’s trying to get a lid on—in herself. I think that was it. But he’s grieving as well, and she doesn’t want to be confronted with that so immediately. She wants her son to rule and she wants to have bred a leader. And she hasn’t at all.”

io9 also got a chance to ask Cooke about a character who’ll soon be arriving in House of the Dragon season two: Alicent’s brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower (Freddie Fox). “[Their relationship is] is estranged. It’s really estranged. She didn’t grow up with him; he was brought up in Oldtown, she was brought up at court,” Cooke teased. “I think it’s Alicent, again, desperate for connection and community, and trying to forge that in a way that just isn’t possible because they don’t have a shared language. I think that causes her a lot of pain, especially seeing how well-adjusted he is, and how well-adjusted he is because he’s been away from this environment.”

House of the Dragon drops new episodes Sundays on HBO and Max.

Need more entertainment? Pedestrian Television has launched on 9Now where you can cult classic movies and homegrown content like Eternal Family and Rostered On. Watch all that and more for free, 24/7 on 9Now