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Who is Emma D’Arcy? The House of the Dragon star with London roots

Since the first episode was aired on August 21st, House of the Dragon has become one of the most popular shows of the moment. A prequel to Game of Thrones, the show follows the story of the Targaryen family’s civil war as the children of King Viserys I battle it out for control of the Iron Throne. Starring as Viserys’ daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, is actor Emma D’Arcy. 

Their role as Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon was announced in December 2020, with D’Arcy succeeding Emily Carey’s portrayal of a younger Rhaenyra Targaryen. The series focuses on her family, the Targaryens, with Rhaenyra posed as a central character after being named the first female heir to the Iron Throne. 

D’Arcy – who uses they/them pronouns – was born in Greater London in 1992 and studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art. Previous to Game of Thrones, D’Arcy played in several theatre productions, including a 2014 production of Romeo and Juliet by the Oxford University Dramatic Society, in which D’Arcy played a lead role. They performed in several plays between 2014 and 2018, including The Crucible at the Yard Theatre and A Girl in School Uniform (Walks into a bar) at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

After this period, D’Arcy began appearing on television. Their first television appearance was in a Netflix series named Wanderlust, where they played the eldest daughter of Toni Collette’s character. After this, they also starred in Wild Bill and Hannah.

For those who are fans of the supernatural, D’arcy features in Nick Frost’s supernatural comedy-horror series, which also starred Simon Pegg and Malcolm Dowell. In this series, D’arcy plays a young lady named Astrid, who is haunted by ghosts and therefore seeks help from Frost’s supernatural investigator. However, it’s their role as Rhaenyra that saw D’Arcy rise to a new level of fame. 

In an interview, she speaks about her experience filming the House of the Dragon. They admit that they weren’t actually that familiar with Game of Thrones when they signed up for the project, despite being long-term fans of the fantasy and science fiction genres. One of the things that they find most appealing about these genres is that they tend to hold up a mirror to modern-day society.

As the first female heir of the Iron Throne, House of the Dragon comments on patriarchal structures. As D’Arcy comments, the dissolution of the friendship between Raenyra and another character, Queen Alicent, represents one of the ways in which male power is consolidated: a way “to sublimate women is to undo friendships that create solidarity and enable the imagining of new realities”.

So far, the show has proved to be incredibly popular with viewers, which is made evident by HBO’s decision to renew it for a second season. While the cast hasn’t yet been confirmed, the key cast is expected to return, and D’arcy will reprise their role as Raenyra. Whatever the future holds for D’Arcy, it’s safe to say that their track record sets them in good stead to go from strength to strength.

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