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The most interesting characters in the world of Game of Thrones are often those who do the whispering behind the kings and queens.

One political character who people will no doubt love to watch in House of the Dragon is Alicent Hightower, played by Olivia Cooke and Emily Carey (young).

HBO describes her as “the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms”.

“She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.”

Those familiar with the Fire and Blood book will know Alicent is extremely important to the series, and Game of Thrones’ history in its entirety.

Read on to find out just why and learn a little more about the complex character, Alicent.

Who is Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon?

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon. HBO

Alicent comes from a noble lineage as her father, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), was the Hand of the King and she grew up around nobility, becoming the Old King’s companion in his later life.

Otto continued his role when Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) became king and often clashed with Viserys’s brother, Daemon (Matt Smith).

**The following contains spoilers for the book and possibly the TV series**

Her story becomes more interesting following the death of Viserys’s wife, Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke).

While she started out having a good relationship with her step-daughter, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), it soon deteriorated once Aemma started having children with Viserys.

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Viserys and Aemma never had a male heir, so Rhaenyra was largely in belief she would be the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms (despite a hefty challenge from her uncle Daemon).

That was until Alicent gave birth to Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), Princess Helaena (Phia Saban) and Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) one after the other. Though Rhaenyra was still the named heir, Alicent (and her father Otto) believed her sons should take the Iron Throne.

Without potentially spoiling too much from House of the Dragon, it’s safe to say Alicent and Rhaenyra didn’t get along and their sparring brought about a division among supporters, named after the colours of their dresses, at a tourney in King’s Landing, Alicent wore green at the opening ceremony while Rhaenyra wore black, meaning their supporters were known as “greens” or “blacks”.

We can expect to see their feud played out on screen over the coming weeks, with Cooke hinting at the journey we can expect to see from sweet and innocent Alicent.

Speaking to Vogue, the actress said: “I’m such a staunch feminist, and to play someone who – to put it mildly – believes in tradition and has been moulded and groomed by her father to be a pawn in his political ambitions was really interesting.

“Partway through the show, she truly begins to understand her role within her father’s life and how it hasn’t been the most loving or healthy father-daughter relationship. She realises that she has power and she has influence – so what does she actually want deep down in her core? And what has been repressed all these years?”

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As for who will end up on the Iron Throne, we’ve got plenty of drama to come before we’ll know that…

Who is Emily Carey?

Milly Alcock as Young Rhaenyra and Emily Carey as Young Alicent in House of the Dragon

Milly Alcock as Young Rhaenyra and Emily Carey as Young Alicent in House of the Dragon. Ollie Upton/HBO

Emily Carey plays a young Alicent Hightower in the opening of House of the Dragon.

Fans of Casualty will recognise her as Grace Beauchamp, a role she played between 2014 and 2021.

Carey has also starred in the likes of Tomb Raider as a young Lara Croft, Wonder Woman, and Netflix’s Get Even.

Who is Olivia Cooke?

Olivia Cooke

Olivia Cooke. Gary Gershoff/WireImage – Getty

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Olivia Cooke plays an older Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon.

She is perhaps best known for her role on ITV’s Vanity Fair in 2018, where she played Becky Sharp.

Cooke also starred opposite Freddie Highmore as his (complicated) love interest in Bates Motel, where she played Emma Decody.

She is in the acclaimed Apple TV+ series Slow Horses, too, as Sidonie ‘Sid’ Baker.

House of the Dragon premieres on Sky Atlantic and NOW on Monday 22nd August 2022. Check out more of our Fantasy coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.

The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.

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