Emily Carey says she’s ‘afraid’ of ‘House of the Dragon’ sex scenes

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Emily Carey was “scared” to do sex scenes in House of the Dragon, mainly because of how “violent” they were in its predecessor, game of thrones, the actor told News week.

Using she/she pronouns, Carey plays Alicent Hightower in the HBO hit, a character who becomes the second wife of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) through the machinations of her father Otto (Rhys Ifans).

Emily Carey says she was ‘scared’ of sex scenes from ‘House of the Dragon’

Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower in “House of the Dragon,” the actor spoke to Newsweek about being “scared” about doing sex scenes, but said an intimacy coordinator helped ease their fears.
Ollie Upton/HBO

In episode 4, Carey had to appear in two intimacy scenes, one in which Alicent King helps Viserys bathe and the other a sex scene in which Carey’s character seems obligated to participate, rather than longing for it.

Being 17 years old at the time of casting and 18 years old during filming, Carey felt “afraid” to act in the scenes, especially given their age difference with then 47-year-old Considine.

Thanks to an intimacy coordinator, the actor felt reassured. Intimacy coordinators work on film and television sets to choreograph simulated sex between actors and ensure their well-being is considered on set.

“We have an intimacy coordinator who was great,” Carey told News week. “Again, when I was 17, the first scene I read from the show was my sex scene and my intimacy scenes, including the one where I bathe the king – anything that felt intimate was considered an intimacy scene, which I thought that was amazing.

“But it scared me because at that point I still hadn’t met Paddy, I didn’t know how much joy he was and how easy he would make it [the scene]and all I saw was, you know, a 47-year-old man and I, I was a little concerned.

“And having that intimacy coordinator’s outlet, to be able to talk it all through and not get shunned, or not feel uncomfortable, or not feel like, ‘Oh, this isn’t your job. I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but may I ask…’ It never was, it was just that open dialogue.

“In the rehearsal room she was a huge help and on set she was a huge help. Yes, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

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Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean recently denounced the use of intimacy coordinators on set, saying they “spoil the spontaneity” when filming for TV and film.

The Ned Stark actor said in an interview with the UK’s Time Magazine: “Someone who says, ‘Do this, put your hands there, touching their thing…’ I think the natural way in which lovers behave would be ruined by someone taking it to a technical exercise.”

But for Carey it was essential, and thinking about how Game of Thrones compares to House of the Dragon when it comes to the treatment of his female characters, the actor continued, “I think I was 17 when I started this job, I was 18 when we started filming, but there was a few months of me in this role as a 17 year old.

“I’ve never seen Game of Thrones earlier, and so I sat down in the pre-production period to try and watch [it] and of course the first season, even just the first episode of thrones, there is a lot of violence against women.

“There’s a lot of violent sex and it made me nervous. I was like, ‘Oh God, what am I supposed to do on this show?'”

“When we got into the rehearsal room, no matter who was in which scenes, there was open dialogue about, ‘Look, this is how we’re approaching the show. This is how it’s going to be different from the original. That’s what we want to be about. “This is what we want to convey. This is how we want viewers to see the women in our show.”

“I think an open conversation is so important, we all felt incredibly safe and secure in the hands of [showrunners] Ryan [Condal] and Miguel [Sapochnik].”

They added: “Certainly there were a lot of women behind the scenes, we had a great team, we had female directors of course, I worked with the great Clare Kilner who was fierce, and a lot of women who produced this show as well, and Sarah, one of our writers, among many others in the writer’s room, I’m sure of that.

“It was something amazing, and it was empowering to be on that set as a young girl and to be treated the same as all these very established men. It was amazing, I think they handled this in the best way they could.” could have done.”

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House of the Dragon
Emily Carey and Paddy Considine as Alicent Hightower and King Viserys I in “House of the Dragon” episode 3.
Ollie Upton/HBO

On the journey of Alicent and under the control of men

House of the Dragon Set at the height of Targaryen’s reign, it will lead to the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war that nearly destroyed the Dragon House and began when Alicent contested the legitimacy of King Viserys’ daughter Rhaenyra’s right to the Iron Throne.

The show explores the early years of the friendship between the two characters, as well as how it came to break up completely. About this, Carey said, “I think the way they approached this friendship in the show is very different from the book in the first place. [Fire and Blood, by George R. R. Martin].

“Of course I read the book for context and was surprised to see that there wasn’t a huge amount of in-depth [information]it didn’t go that deep when it came to their friendship, and there was actually quite a big age difference between the two girls in the book.

“I think the fact that they’re so incredibly close is what makes the loss of the friendship so heartbreaking, and there’s a lot more at stake, if that makes sense. Of course, things are always at stake when it comes to the throne, but we’re talking about emotions, we’re talking about real raw emotions of two young women.”

“It was a lot of fun to play with this friendship and I love Milly [Alcock, who plays a young Rhaenyra] off screen and so everything came on screen very organically,” Carey added. “It’s heartbreaking to see it break down, or at least it should be, they both make questionable choices sometimes, but the point is , a lot of the time the choices are made to look like it was made by them, but it’s never really their choice, their lives are dictated by their fathers and the men around them.

“That’s what makes it so hard to watch because neither of them are in control the entire journey, whether they’re incredibly close or when it’s starting to break down.”

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Reflecting on the relationship between Alicent and her father Otto, Carey said, “I think it was interesting, the dynamic between Otto and Alicent was one of the most interesting for me to explore as an actor, simply because I’m not in a relationship with you. my own father and that’s why I found it difficult to get into it in the beginning, precisely because it’s not a normal father-daughter relationship.

“Alicent is kind of a pawn in his big game, but one of the first things Miguel said to me was that she is very acutely aware of Game of Thrones, and she is aware of the world she is in and where she is. she’s in that world.

“And I think she’s starting to realize that she doesn’t have a choice and that she’s a pawn in this big game, and she just has to sit by it. I don’t think she ever expected Otto to be the one who manipulates that.”

Looking to the character’s future battle with Rhaenyra, Carey said viewers will see a “spark” in their character before Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy take over the roles of Alicent and the Princess.

“I think she puts herself in that position and then she wants it, I don’t think she ever wanted it from the start,” they said of Alicent’s determination to get her children on the Iron Throne in the future. “I think it was right, I’m here. Now I have to do what I have to do”, and I think she has a tremendous amount of ambition and determination.

“I think she’s a very emotional person. I think Alicent has a huge heart, which will make her mean sometimes, because she fights for the people she loves dearly, which of course, as I’m reading the book, I know what needs to be done come vague.

“We know she’s fighting for her kids, eventually the Alicent I’m playing doesn’t really get there. I mean, we see that spark, there’s definitely a spark, but we won’t see that until episodes four or five, I’d say.

“I think [episode] three was the turning point for me…you see her go from a young girl to… [someone] trying to be this woman she has to believe she should be, and then four and five you see her really come into her own and you see that spark, that fire.”

House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max at 9 p.m. ET.

House of the Dragon
Emily Carey and Milly Alcock as Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen in “House of the Dragon” episode 4, the show explores their friendship and its demise.
Ollie Upton/HBO