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Though it’s been more than three years since the final episode of Game of Thrones aired, the show’s fanbase remains as fervently devoted to George R.R. Martin’s lore as ever—a fact that Cooke was all too aware of when she first signed up for the project. “Embarking on something like this that already has such a legacy, there’s a huge amount of pressure when taking the role, and I didn’t take that lightly. Everyone’s gonna have an opinion about absolutely every single detail of House of the Dragon, but ultimately it’s not my monkey,” she adds, cheerily. “I know that I’ve done my part to the best that I can do, and that’s the most important thing.”

Bingeing the original show only after she found out she was in the running for the role (“People had told me to watch it before that, of course, but I’m one of those people that has to do things on my own time,” she says), what drew Cooke to House of the Dragon initially was the complexity of her character, Lady Alicent Hightower, and her relationship with Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy). The show charts their friendship’s descent into bitter rivalry as both vie for the throne of Westeros, bringing about a brutal civil war. “It’s centered around two women who are pitted against each other, partly because they are actually stronger together—they are used as pawns in this patriarchal society,” says Cooke. “And it’s so rotten how much it mirrors what is going on right now in 2022. It feels like a very pressing and important story to tell of a sudden.”

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