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Who is Emma D’Arcy, the actor who plays Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon?

Game of Thrones fans were elated that the role of Rhaenyra Targaryen went to a theatre actor. Often referred to as the ‘Realm’s Delight,’ the first-born child of King Viserys I Targaryen has been deemed a complex and intriguing protagonist. Obviously, House of the Dragon needed a strong, unyielding female lead after Game of Thrones had set the bar so high for characterizations. The trailer, at least, has us fans believing that the 30-year-old Emma D’Arcy can capture the fiery spirit of the Targaryen heir.


But who is Emma D’Arcy? Where is the actor from and where have you seen them before? Here’s all you need to know about the English actor.

Read more: When does House of the Dragon come out?

Emma D’Arcy has been attached to noteworthy projects

Nick Frost wearing a blue tee and jacket and Emma D'Arcy in overalls in a still from truth Seekers

In 2020, they appeared in Jim Field Smith’s comedy horror series Truth Seekers, which also starred Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Though the Amazon Prime series was canceled after one season, D’Arcy made a mark as Astrid, a young woman who was seemingly haunted by ghosts.

The actor also appeared in Nick Payne’s BBC One and Netflix co-produced mini-series Wanderlust, as well as Philippa Lowthorpe’s 2020 comedy-drama Misbehaviour. D’Arcy is perhaps better known for being a theatre star and has memorable appearances in productions like Romeo and Juliet, The Games We Played, and The Crucible. The actor studied acting at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, England.

Read More: House of The Dragon’s cast and showrunner explain how the prequel’s central female leads are misunderstood

Emma D’Arcy identifies as non-binary

Emma D'Arcy in a black sweater and short hair looking away during a table read

D’Arcy is non-binary and although they haven’t shared a great deal about their identity, fans prefer using the pronouns they/them when they’re referring to D’Arcy. The actor is artful about how and what they share on social media. In fact, they only started sharing their own work on Instagram after their House of Dragon role came to light.

Read more: House of The Dragon’s first reactions say it’s “a worthy successor to Game of Thrones”

Their House of the Dragon audition involved a handmade wig

Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith laugh during a House of Dragon interview

Emma revealed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that they had to make a hasty audition tape for the role on the show and could not source a professional wig during the pandemic. So they used some leftover hair extensions and made a make-shift wig. “For 24 hours, me and my partner just tried — I can’t put more emphasis behind that word. My hair was about as long as it is now. We hot glued these hair extensions to these wig grips. We would send photos to Miguel, and we thought we’d cracked it. And he said, ‘Can you keep trying?’ We kept trying until we found something that gave me the illusion I had long hair,” the actor revealed during the interview.

Read More: House of The Dragon’s Milly Alcock compares young Rhaenyra Targaryen to Arya Stark

So, who is Rhaenyra Targaryen?

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in a close-up shot from House of Dragon

The GoT fandom will spot glimpses of Daenerys Targaryen and Arya Stark in Rhaenyra because much like these two women, Rhaenyra too makes her own rules. In the novel, Rhaenyra is depicted as someone who could very well inherit her father’s throne and is thus quite keen on learning about the realm. Though she’s self-assured, there are aspects of the unpredictable about her. She has often been described as stubborn and defiant and ascends to the throne when she’s 16.

A reason she has a strong connection to her uncle Daemon is that they’re quite similar in strengths and spirits and yet the cards are stacked differently for each of them. D’Arcy broke down their dynamic during the same EW interview. “She is a person who feels at odds with the way that she is read by the world — even this label the Realm’s Delight, which implies passivity, being an object of people’s ogling. It’s like she has a doppelgänger. The doppelgänger is Rhaenyra born male, who has access to all the things that she craves and feels to be hers. She has this amazing connection with her uncle Daemon,” D’Arcy revealed.

Read Next: Emma D’Arcy explains the difference between Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen

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