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HBO Teen Star Was "Scared" to Film Sex Scenes With Much Older Co-Star

House of the Dragon actor Emily Carey opens up about the prequel series.

The Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon premiered in August, and—like its predecessor—it's already stirred up some controversy and started conversations about its graphic scenes. In a new interview with Newsweek, one teenage star of the series confessed that she was initially "scared" to act in intimate scenes with her co-star, who is 30 years older than her, especially because she was familiar with the sexual content in GoT.

Actor Emily Carey (who uses she/they pronouns) was candid about the process of playing Alicent Hightower in those challenging moments, from learning what they would be asked to do in the scripts to how things went between them and their scene partner on the set. Read on to find out more.

READ THIS NEXT: This HBO Star Requested Some of Her Racy Scenes Be Cut.

Carey was initially "nervous" about acting in intimate scenes.

Emily Carey and Paddy Considine in "House of the Dragon"
Ollie Upton / HBO

On House of the Dragon, Carey plays the younger version of Alicent Hightower, who marries King Viserys (Paddy Considine). In the most recent episode, "King of the Narrow Sea," Alicent gives King Viserys a bath, and they also have a love scene.

In her interview with Newsweek, Carey shared how she felt after reading the script and learning that she'd be sharing this intimate storyline with a much older actor.

"[I]t scared me, because at that point I still hadn't met Paddy, I didn't know how much of a joy he was and how easy he was going to make [the scene], and all I saw was, you know, a 47-year-old man and me, I was a bit concerned," Carey said. They noted that they were 17 when they received the script and 18 during filming.

She also watched Game of Thrones to prepare.

Emily Carey at the premiere of "House of the Dragon" in London in August 2022
Loredana Sangiuliano / Shutterstock

Carey told Newsweek that she tried watching Game of Thrones to prepare for her new role but that it had the effect of worrying her even more.

"I've never seen Game of Thrones before, and so in the pre-production period I sat down to try and watch [it] and of course the first season, even just the first episode of Thrones, there's a lot of violence upon women," the now 19-year-old star explained. "There's a lot of violent sex and it made me nervous. I was like, 'Oh God, what am I gonna have to do in this show?'"

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Carey praised the show's intimacy coordinator.

Emily Carey and Paddy Considine in "House of the Dragon"
Ollie Upton / HBO

Unlike Game of Thrones, which only began using one in later seasons, House of the Dragon has employed an intimacy coordinator from the beginning. As defined by the SAG-AFTRA union, "An intimacy coordinator is an advocate, a liaison between actors and production, and a movement coach and/or choreographer in regards to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes." Having someone in this role on sets has become increasingly common following the Me Too movement.

"We have an intimacy coordinator who was amazing," Carey said in the Newsweek interview. "Again, still being 17, the first scene that I read from the show was my sex scene and my intimacy scenes, that includes the scene where I'm bathing the king—anything that felt intimate was considered an intimacy scene, which I thought was great."

Carey was surprised how comfortable they felt on set overall.

Emily Carey at the Los Angeles premiere of "House of the Dragon" in July 2022
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Carey told Newsweek that the intimacy coordinator helped them not feel "shunned" or "awkward" about making their voice heard.

"In the rehearsal room she was a massive help and on set she was a massive help. Yeah, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be," the actor said. Carey also praised the crew of the show overall, pointing out how nice it was to have "a lot of women behind the scenes."

"When we got to the rehearsal room, regardless of who was in which scenes, there was an open dialogue about, 'Look, this is how we're approaching the show. This is how it's going to be different from the original. This is what we want to talk about. This is what we want to put out. This is how we want the viewers to view the women in our show,'" Carey said. "It was an amazing thing, and it was empowering being on that set as a young girl and being treated the same as all of these very established men. It was great, I think they approached this in the best way they could have done."

One Game of Thrones star recently brushed off the importance of intimacy coordinators.

Sean Bean at the "Game of Thrones" final season premiere in 2019
lev radin / Shutterstock

The show's intimacy coordinator made all the difference for Carey, especially as a young actor, and plenty of other stars have spoken out in favor of the practice, too. But, recently, one GoT star gave a dissenting opinion.

"I should imagine it slows down the thrust of it. Ha, not the thrust, that's the wrong word. It would spoil the spontaneity," Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark on Game of Thrones said in an interview with The Times (via The Independent). "It would inhibit me more because it's drawing attention to things. Somebody saying, 'Do this, put your hand there, while you touch his thing…' I think the natural way lovers behave would be ruined by someone bringing it right down to a technical exercise."

Bean faced backlash for his comments, including from other actors.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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