If you’ve been catching up on the HBO Max original series “House of the Dragon,” the prequel to the beloved HBO series “Game of Thrones,” which ended in 2019, you’ll likely recognize actor Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower.
But Cooke certainly didn’t make her debut with “House of the Dragon” — she’s been gracing the silver screen and our home TVs for over a decade.
Here are few facts to know about the English performer, including details about her life and past TV and movie roles.
Who is Olivia Cooke?
Olivia Cooke, 28, is an English actress.
She’s been acting in prominent roles for movies and TV shows since her start in 2012 with the BBC series “Blackout.”
But before that, she spent much of her childhood getting her start in acting at an after-school program in her hometown of Oldham, Greater Manchester, England. She went on to study drama at Oldham Sixth Form College.
Unlike her, her parents are not actors. “Do I come from a family of actors? No, I don’t. My dad’s an ex-policeman and my mum is a sales representative and they haven’t got the acting bug. Bless them,” Cooke told Interview.
After she landed her role in “Blackout,” she got a local agent, who helped her book more roles — one of which includes appearing in One Direction’s 2012 “Autumn Term” tour video, in which she gets a piggyback ride from none other than Mr. Harry Styles himself. (We’re jealous.)
‘Bates Motel’ was one of her breakout roles
Cooke went on to star in the 2014 British horror film, “The Quiet Ones.” Then, things started to pick up for her.
After sending in an audition tape for A&E’s hit series “Bates Motel,” she landed her first American role as Emma Decody on the show, where she had an accent coach help with her American accent for the series. To this day, this remains one of Cooke’s most prominent roles.
She said, however, that relocating to shoot the series was often lonely.
“I left home at 18 to shoot in Vancouver, then went back and forth between jobs in the U.S. and home with Mum for the next four years,” Cooke told Elle UK. “It was a lot to deal with as a child. Even though I had amazing experiences, it was incredibly lonely.”
She then went on to star in “Ouija,” the 2014 horror flick. After “Ouija,” Cooke took to another big role: she starred as Rachel in the critically acclaimed film “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.” Cooke shaved her head for this role, as she played Rachel, a quirky and lovable girl with leukemia.
All the while, Cooke continued to star in “Bates Motel” as Emma, garnering a following for her incredible performance in the show.
She later went on to star in the 2018 Steven Spielberg movie, “Ready Player One” and the miniseries “Vanity Fair,” also in 2018.
Cooke on playing Queen Alicent Hightower
“She does some f—ing despicable stuff,” Cooke told Entertainment Weekly of her character on “House of the Dragon.”
Alicent, the daughter of the hand of the king and the wife to King Viserys, was also the former best friend of Princess Rhaenyra. The younger versions of Alicent and Rhaenyra are played by Emily Carey and Milly Alcock, respectively.
Tensions between Rhaenyra and Alicent have only continued to grow throughout the first season of “House of the Dragon.”
Cooke told EW that showrunners discouraged Cooke from discussing the role of Alicent with Carey as they made the casting transition. She was only shown clips of Carey and Paddy Considine, who plays King Viserys. “I had those memories locked in my brain for when I’m doing a scene that mirrors that relationship,” she said.
Although Alicent may not be a Targaryen, as in she doesn’t technically have “the blood of the dragon,” she undeniably has a fire that burns within her, as “House of the Dragon” viewers have surely witnessed by now.
You can follow Cooke on Instagram
Although Cooke only has 20 posts on Instagram (so far!), she posted quite an iconic photo from the “House of the Dragon” set: Alcock, Carey, Emma D’arcy (who plays older Rhaenyrs) and Cooke all together.