‘House of the Dragon’ Stars on Choosing Sides in Targaryen Civil War, Taking Responsibility & More (VIDEO)

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Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Westeros where we lay our scene. It’s a Targaryen civil war in House of the Dragon Season 2, a war that will determine the fates of the ruling family of the Seven Kingdoms, and the stakes could not be more Shakespearean if George R. R. Martin tried.

The Game of Thrones spinoff returns for its highly anticipated second season on Sunday, June 16 at 9/8c on HBO and Max (it’s already been renewed for Season 3), and with the new season comes the aftermath of the tragic death of Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) seen in the Season 1 finale. Luke’s uncle, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), didn’t mean to kill his nephew, but his lust for retribution over his lost eye in childhood fueled his attack on dragon back. Vhagar went rogue and killed the young boy and his dragon, Arrax.

Had this not occurred, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) may have wanted to find a diplomatic solution to Alicent (Olivia Cooke) usurping the throne for her son, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), but there’s no turning back now. And so begins the war between the two houses, now divided between the blacks (Rhaenyra’s supporters) and the greens (Aegon’s supporters). This conflict will affect everyone in this family and all of Westeros.

In the TV Insider video interview above, the stars of House of the Dragon Season 2 give a glimpse into the roles their characters play in this conflict. For starters, what is Aemond’s guilt level at the top of the season? He certainly worsened the conflict because of his temper at the end of Season 1.

“He knows that what he did, there’s no going back from,” Mitchell tells TV Insider, adding, “So much of Season 1 saw this family’s world on a knife’s edge. All it was going to take was a push from either side to draw blood, and Aemond was responsible. He drew first blood. There is a level of responsibility with everything that comes after that.”

Mitchell and Phia Saban (Helaena) say that Season 1 was “compelling” because it saw each character “inherit” their “trauma” that defines their actions in Season 2. This context gives viewers a better understanding of the complicated decisions made in the new episodes, and we’ll see new shades of these characters moving forward as they grapple with their roles in this unfolding history.

Mitchell says that we’ll see Aemond in more emotionally vulnerable places this season, but he’s still the powerful, intimidating figure we’ve known him to be. Aegon, meanwhile, is trying to be “loved and feared at the same time.” At the top of the season, Aegon is trying to model himself after his father, whom he knows was “a good king and a good man,” according to Glynn-Carney. But Aegon will learn it’s impossible to be loved and feared all at once. “Aegon starts to really see his differences to his father and starts to lean into his own strengths,” he adds.

As seen in Season 1, Aegon’s more vicious and reckless nature comes out in times of stress. This will undoubtedly come into play as Aegon is tested in Season 2. “He’s led by other people, and he’s led by his own feelings, which makes him — contrary to popular belief — not a psychopath. He’s an empath,” says Glynn-Carney. “He feels everything so deeply, which arguably can be as dangerous as the complete polar opposite of that. And he’s now in a position where he can call the shots.”

Do the heir and the spare on team green at all see this war as their mother Alicent’s fault? The coup was staged because of what she thought was Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) final words. Of course, only viewers know that she was wrong in her interpretation. Glynn-Carney simply says, “No, I don’t think so.”

“Alicent could’ve done a lot better, but then who the hell couldn’t?” he explains. “We’re in King’s Landing, we’re playing Targaryens. Everyone’s completely flawed in every single way possible.”

Over on Dragonstone, Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) are stalwart in their commitment to Rhaenyra. They aren’t supporting Rhaenyra because they think she’s right for the job, but rather “to honor the rightful heir,” Best tells us. “And also the fact that the rightful heir happens to be a woman is intensely important on a personal level for Rhaenys.” Rhaenys’ goal this season is “to make sure that that particular strand of history is changed. Please, now, change!” Toussaint does admit, however, that between Rhaenyra and Aegon, the former “is way, way more suited than that other child.”

Season 1 put the pieces on the chess board, and now the game is being played in Season 2. Find out more about the emotional battles to come with the aforementioned stars as well as Harry Collett (Jacaerys Velaryon), Bethany Antonia (Baela Targaryen), and Matthew Needham (Larys Strong) in the full video interview above.

House of the Dragon, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, June 16, 9/8c, HBO, Streaming on Max

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