House of the Dragon star Olivia Cooke admits ‘complicated feelings’ about show’s on-screen age gaps

House of the Dragon star Olivia Cooke has admitted to having “complicated feelings” about playing a grandmother in the programme, despite only being 30 years old.

The actor plays Alicent Hightower in the returning HBO series, set nearly 200 years before the events of its predecessor, Game of Thrones.

Though the character is written to have started having children at a young age, the actors who play Alicent’s sons King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) are 29 and 27, respectively.

In a new interview with The Times, Cooke noted that she was aware of the lack of a realistic age gap between herself and her on-screen children, as well as her relatively young character being a grandmother.

“I have really complicated feelings towards it,” Cooke said.

“If they can create dragons, they could have made me look younger – and then older. Or maybe they should have cast actors in their forties? It’s happened now and I’m grateful for the role, but I’ve just turned 30 and I’m playing a grandma. There is a real reticence to see women age on screen. A real reticence.”

Cooke continued by noting that she finds the role “hysterical” due to the small age gap with her co-stars.

Like mother, like son: Olivia Cooke (30) and Tom Glynn-Carney (29) in House of the Dragon (HBO)
Like mother, like son: Olivia Cooke (30) and Tom Glynn-Carney (29) in House of the Dragon (HBO)

“Because Tom is a year younger and I’m, like, ‘Son, come here! Come on to the bosom!’ It is a strange dynamic that I’m very aware of,” she said.

“But I also don’t want to slag off the show – it’s just something Emma [d’Arcy, who plays rival Rhaenyra Targaryen] and I have talked about a lot.

“It’s strange. I bristle a bit because the years between being a teenager and now a grandma on screen were so short for me.”

Elsewhere in the interview, published on Friday (14 June), Oldham-born Cooke spoke about her co-stars teasing her about her accent becoming less distinct in her time living and working in the south of England.

“I feel really sad about it,” she said of the change in her accent, before noting that she often “puts on a voice” when speaking to someone with a different upbringing to her working-class childhood.

“I’m proud of where I come from, but it was a source of embarrassment because I didn’t feel as intelligent as others,” she said.

“I speak about that to my therapist all the time and try not to do it, but I do have a chip on my shoulder about being working class.”

You can read The Independent’s first-look review of season two of House of the Dragon here.