Emma D'Arcy and Milly Alcock posing with the Golden Globe won by House of the Dragon in 2023
(Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Everything You Need To Know About the Faces Behind Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen

Two of the best casting choices of the CENTURY.

It’s finally House of the Dragon season, which means that we’re all right back in the middle of the Dance of the Dragons—featuring House Targaryen either marrying each other or destroying each other from the inside, queer subtext galore, and hopefully tons of dragon sequences.

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Honestly, what more could a girl ask for?

Among the many characters that populate both sides of the Dance, few are as important of as Rhaenyra Targaryen—one of the story’s protagonists, leader of the Black faction and, it has to be said, the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. We first meet her back when she is a princess, the Realm’s Delight, the only child of her father King Viserys I and his first wife, Queen Aemma Arryn.

Viserys eventually names her his heir, something that would make her the first queen to rule from the Iron Throne in her own right and that doesn’t sit right with a great many deal of the great lords of the land—the Hightowers first and foremost. And that’s how the stage for the Dance of the Dragons is set. But there are several weddings, births, and deaths that happen before the civil war really starts, which is why during the first season of House of the Dragon we saw Rhaenyra being played by two different people.

Who plays teenage Rhaenyra?

Young Rhaenyra, whom we saw from her introduction—when Queen Aemma was still alive and pregnant with the baby that would become poor Prince Baelon—to her political marriage with Ser Leanor Velaryon, was played by Australian actress Milly Alcock.

rhaenyra in House of the Dragon
Young Rhaenyra on the day she is officially named Princess of Dragonstone. (HBO)

Born in April 2000, Alcock’s first television role was in three episodes of Australian legal drama Janet King. She then had minor roles all throughout 2018 and 2019—starring in A Place to Call Home, Fighting Season, Pine Gap, and Les Norton—before landing a major role in the Australian dramedy Uptight. She also starred in The Gloaming and Reckoning before being shot to international recognition as Rhaenyra Targaryen in the first half of the first season of House of the Dragon.

So far, Alcock only has one movie in under her belt—the 2018 horror The School. But she is currently busy filming DC Universe’s Superman, where she stars as none other than Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl. 

And what about adult Rhaenyra?

Older Rhaenyra, whom we meet when she’s already a mother of three children and whom we follow through her marriage to Prince Daemon, the death of her father, and the tragic start of the Dance, is instead played by British actor Emma D’Arcy. D’Arcy was born in June 1992 and like many other British performers got their start in theatre—which they continue, with their last performance being a staging of The Crucible in 2019—before moving up to short films, television shows, and feature-length movies.

Rhaenyra Targaryen, played by Emma D'Arcy, is crowned queen in the season one finale of House of the Dragon
Princess Rhaenyra on the day she is crowned Queen Rhaenyra. (HBO)

Their most prominent roles—besides that in House of the Dragon, of course, which has rightfully earned them praises left and right—include the movies Misbehavior and Mothering Sunday, which came out in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and the shows Wanderlust and Truth Seekers, which aired in 2018 and 2020.

And considering there are no more time jumps on the horizon of House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra will continue to have D’Arcy’s face all the way until the end of the show.

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.