Olivia Cooke on ‘Home of the Dragon’ and ‘Sport of Thrones’

Olivia Cooke can’t recall an excessive amount of of her remaining audition for the much-anticipated Sport of Thrones prequel, Home of the Dragon. “I ought to actually f–king bear in mind these items. Possibly I’ll simply begin mendacity,” she says, laughing. With over a decade of on-screen credit, together with Steven Spielberg’s Prepared Participant One and Darius Marder’s Sound of Metallic, the 28-year-old actor exudes a humble ​​unpretentiousness over Zoom as she pauses to think about her solutions earlier than talking and apologizes when she thinks she’s rambling (she by no means is). The previous two years have seen the actor reside and breathe Home of the Dragon (arriving August 21), the HBO present set 200 years earlier than Sport of Thrones wherein she stars as Alicent Hightower, a lady caught between ties of familial blood and loyalty.

I’m calling Cooke on what’s the hottest recorded day in British historical past so, consistent with English custom, we complain in regards to the climate because the Mancunian speaks from her North London house. It was right here her Home of the Dragon journey started, recording a self-tape “on a whim” in August 2020 after transferring again to London from New York following “an enormous break-up” and having not labored for a yr. When the chance of Home of the Dragon grew to become tangible, conversations with showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal bought Cooke on the venture: “[They] have been those who cinched it for me the place I used to be like, ‘Oh God this sounds so, so wonderful!’” she remembers.

Home of the Dragon’s story follows the Targaryen conflict of succession, predating the occasions seen in Sport of Thrones, an influence battle that threatened to tear the dynasty aside for the Iron Throne. All through the entire audition course of, Cooke hadn’t and didn’t watch Sport of Thrones. “It’s an enormous dedication if I don’t get it,” she recollects pondering. However after signing on for the HBO venture, Cooke watched all 73 episodes of the hit present in watch events along with her mom, and browse George R. R. Martin’s novel Fireplace and Blood, on which Home of the Dragon relies. She notes each supplied her with a bullet-point define of her character from which she may embellish and make her personal.

Alicent Hightower’s arc is deeply emotional and follows the rivalry between her and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), Cooke explains “who [Alicent] liked a lot, who actually was her old flame.” She provides their entangled narrative charts “how that love has metastasized through the years.” This ruminative efficiency was grounded in fact for the actor: “These first friendships you may have are so intense that it was straightforward to attract upon these early years and the rawness of these first emotions towards your greatest mates: the harm, embarrassment, and disgrace and the way that also lives in you someplace.”

The broader solid additionally options a number of British actors (Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Eve Finest)—which Cooke says established an instantaneous commonality—together with Rhys “humorous f–ker” Ifans, who performs Cooke’s royal father within the collection. “[There are] a number of pretty working-class actors as nicely and we’re all enjoying royalty which is like, haha! F–ok you!” She provides, chuckling and throwing up two fingers.

Our dialog drifts to preparation for the size and anticipation of the present, if such a factor is even potential. “If I give it some thought too deeply I get wonderful nervousness,” Cooke says. All through her profession, Cooke has let her work do the speaking. However Home of the Dragon will throw her beneath the brightest highlight she’s confronted but. “As a result of I’ve by no means had [fame] and I’ve managed to be actually fulfilled within the profession that I’ve had, I feel in my head it’s not going to occur to me,” she provides.

Cooke notes that experiencing the magnitude of Prepared Participant One stood her in good stead for Home of Dragon. She starred within the Spielberg movie at 22, whereas her mates again house have been at college. Did she ever need to go to drama college? “Sure,” she says, “however I didn’t get in. I used to be already working.” Her appearing schooling befell on set. For Home of Dragon, Cooke says she’s grown significantly, and feels extra positive of herself, however her voice trails off. “As I used to be saying that, I’m like ‘I don’t assume you’re, Olivia,’” she confesses, clarifying: “I really feel like I’ve earned it this time, slightly than turning up at 22 on a Spielberg set.”

Early appearing expertise set Cooke’s expectations, like her formative Me and Earl and the Dying Lady breakout position, wherein she performed a younger lady battling leukemia. She reminisces fondly on the movie and its supportive work atmosphere—one thing she continues to chase. As she hit her appearing stride so did her work commitments, the promotional facet of which she admits to be difficult. Entering into darkish comedy thriller Thoroughbreds reverse Anya Taylor-Pleasure, Oscar-nominated Sound of Metallic with Riz Ahmed, and an MI5 agent within the just lately launched Apple TV+ collection Sluggish Horses, Cooke has walked many a crimson carpet—and but, nonetheless dreads them. “Selling it and going to crimson carpets and having to pose… it’s so cringe-worthy to me, I’ve to detach,” she says with amusing.

I ask about navigating the movie trade as a younger lady with no nepotism leg-up: has she seen an enchancment behind the scenes? Cooke takes the longest pause of our name as she considers find out how to reply. “Generally I don’t know if I’ve seen a change or if I’m nonetheless caught as 18-year-old Olivia who felt like she couldn’t put her hand up,” she says. “I’m like: ‘Am I overstepping my boundaries or am I only a bit repressed?’” Cooke goes on to say “slowly however absolutely” she believes there’s change occurring, “even when that’s simply soundbites and ticking containers, for now, it nonetheless looks like there’s a optimistic momentum there.”

It’s once we are speaking about administrators she aspires to work with that Cooke actually surprises me. She lists the go-tos like Paul Thomas Anderson (“I’ll be a part of Haim, like, ‘Do you want somebody to play the triangle?’ That’s my approach in!”) and Greta Gerwig (she auditioned for Little Ladies), however says she’s been particularly impressed by Iranian director Ali Abbasi’s Swedish fantasy romance Border: “That was such an incredible movie and I’m actually excited to see what [Abbasi] does subsequent.”

It’s a credit score to Cooke that, after working with the likes of Spielberg and ginormous studios she stays impressively conscious of the indie circuit. This isn’t simply in phrases, it’s in actions too; the indies in her filmography are the proof. We bid farewell, exchanging hopes we don’t soften throughout the remainder of the day, however not earlier than Cooke apologizes one final time: “I’m sorry I simply f–king rambled.” It confirms that after spending her early 20s in America, her Britishness—politeness, with some curse phrases right here and there—continues to be very a lot intact.

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