In the latest example of how Hollywood has become unable to separate their own personal hang-ups regarding the former president from even the most unrelated work, House of the Dragon star Olivia Cooke has revealed that she was instructed by series showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik to portray her character, Queen Alicent, like she was “a woman for Trump.”
Cooke, who appears in House of the Dragon as the older incarnation of the Targaryen Queen, revealed this insight into her time shooting the Game of Thrones spin-off’s first season during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Speaking in promotion of the series’ recent time-skip, which saw the timeline jump decades into the future and Cooke take over the reins of the character from Emily Carey, the actress recalled to EW’s Nick Romano that at one point during the production process, Condal and Sapochnik had specifically told her to play Queen Alicent “like a woman for Trump”.
However, the actress said that she instead sought to come up with an alternative lens with which to view the character, as she “didn’t want to give [the Trumps] any more mental real estate than they already had.”
“So I tried to find a different route into her, but I could see what they were saying with this complete indoctrination and denial of her own autonomy and rights,“ Cooke reflected. “I just couldn’t be asked to go down that road.”
Though how much of the performance she put to film was in line with the showrunners’ original expectations is unclear, Cooke then asserted that the Queen Alicent she eventually came to embody stands as a woman who has “been bittered and twisted over time”.
“You’re seeing her struggle with her womanhood and the power that she does have to play that is completely separate from her husband or her father or even her children,” detailed the actress. “And also just moralistically where she stands when she isn’t listening to her father anymore.”
“Alicent has been completely bred to breed, and to breed powerful men,” she continued. That’s her only function in this life. She can tell herself that she’s going to sway and nurture and persuade in a very womanly, feminine way, but it’s all f—ing bull—t.
“Unless you’re fighting the men, you’ll never be heard,” Cooke explained. “ It’s learning to live within this straightjacket of oppression. How do I move inch by inch every single day to loosen the straps?”
Comparing Alicent’s circumstances to her eventual step-mother’s, Cooke further noted how the Queen’s slowly stoking rage also stems from how “Rhaenyra can just get away with anything, and it’s so fine. The king turns a complete blind eye, whereas Alicent has always had to walk this tightrope for her whole entire life.”
“Just the injustice of it that she feels, until things happen and she realizes that none of it f—ing matters,” said the actress. “She looks around her family, and they’re all f—ed up. She’s like, ‘I’ve been so perfect all my life. I haven’t taken a step wrong, and it doesn’t f—ing matter.’ I think what we see in her evolution is this complete existential crisis.”
Admitting that Queen Alicent’s break eventually leads her to voluntarily engage in “some f—ing despicable stuff”, Cooke then moved to clarify that she always sought to find the “humanitarian hook” to her character’s actions.
“But then you’ve got to think, she’s trying to protect her son,” she opined to Romano. “She’s trying to uphold the patriarchy. She’s trying to uphold the legitimacy of the crown. All these things that she feels are so much bigger than she is.”
“I think that’s why when she can’t control that, she turns to faith more as some sort of tangible element of control, because she doesn’t have any in her life whatsoever,” the actress added.
According to Cooke, Queen Alicent’s descent into madness is also due in large part to the emotional fallout from her friendship with Rhaenyra being sundered – a fallout which Cooke described as “the first proper heartbreak, and the first only heartbreak that [Alicent’s] had, because it was such a pure love.”
“A lot of us have those first influential friendships that become severed at a certain point, and it’s just harrowing because there is a bit of you that breaks off,” described the actress. “There’s so much that you don’t get closure over like you would with a romantic relationship.”
“[Rhaenyra] was her only friend, and she’s so lonely,” Cooke concluded. “She’s got all these men around her that just want a piece of her, or want to use her in a specific way, but no one actually has her best interest. It’s just a really lonely existence.”
House of the Dragon is now airing on HBO and HBO Max.
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