Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly awaited show

Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly awaited show
“House of the Dragon” premieres on OSN in the Middle East on August 22. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 August 2022

Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly awaited show

Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly awaited show
  • Can the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel emulate its extraordinary success?

DUBAI: Few television shows (or films, or any other kind of media) have had as great a cultural impact as “Game of Thrones.” Throughout its eight-year run, which began in 2011, the sprawling fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin’s books gripped audiences across the globe (for reasons both positive and negative) and its influence is still felt across television and film. Now, just over three years after its last episode aired, HBO has finally readied a follow up its most-popular series: “House of the Dragon” — a prequel set hundreds of years earlier, which premieres on OSN in the Middle East on August 22.

The world has changed, however. When “Game of Thrones” debuted, there was nothing like it. For many, the series was the first piece of fantasy that enraptured them — propulsive, riveting and uncompromising storytelling that eased viewers into the existence of ice monsters and dragons. A decade on, there has been a litany of direct imitators, none of which has come close to emulating its success. So why should this one?




Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith in 'House of the Dragon.' (HBO)

“There have been many attempts to capture the ‘Game of Thrones’ magic,” says “House of the Dragon” co-creator and co-showrunner Ryan J Condal. “And many shows that have done only one or two seasons, and that’s it. There’s clearly a pattern of people wanting something like ‘Game of Thrones,’ but [the imitators] had to make it different. We’re lucky in the respect that we don’t have that problem. The more ‘Game of Thrones’ we are, the better.”

“House of the Dragon” should not be seen simply as a carbon copy of its predecessor, though. “Game of Thrones” had dozens of major characters, with the two major ones — Daenerys Targaryen and Aegon Targaryen (who believed himself to be Jon Snow for most of it) — not even meeting until near the end. “House of the Dragon” is far more zoomed in, centering on four characters from that same Targaryen family — a mercurial bunch with pale white hair and dragon’s blood in their veins — 200 years prior to the birth of Daenerys.

The central conceit is, however, pure “GoT.” A peacetime king — Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) — is unable to produce a male heir, leaving his hot-headed and unpredictable brother Prince Daemon as his most likely successor. Viserys, however, has other plans, thinking that perhaps his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (played by Emma D’Arcy as an adult, Milly Alcock as a teen) could become the kingdom’s first queen. Her best friend, Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke as an adult, Emily Carey as a teen), however, seems to have her eyes on the king herself.




Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent. (HBO)

“I think the thing that made it so interesting to us is the idea that you get to explore the Targaryens as a dynasty and as a family instead of basically just one person. (We) get to show you what Westeros was like when the Targaryens were at height of their power and influence, when they had 17 dragons to discourage other houses from raising a challenge to the throne. And we see a broad spectrum of different Targaryen people — princes and princesses, firstborns and second-borns — who all have their own internal life and wants and needs and identity,” says co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik.

“What you realize is: This is just like any other family,” he continues. “It’s made up of a complex range of people who will all react to things in a different way. There isn’t a Targaryen archetype. There’s nature and nurture involved — how they develop as people and how they react to different things. They’re all real, complex people with gray in their souls, and that’s why people tune in from week to week, to follow these, hopefully, deeply interesting and compelling characters.”

Leading the pack is Paddy Considine, an actor who has put in some of the finest, if under-heralded, performances in recent history, including 2003’s “In America,” 2004’s “Dead Man’s Shoes” and 2010’s “Submarine,” and is finally given the major role he’s always deserved — something that the creators of the show saw before he did.




Paddy Considine as King Viserys. (HBO)

“I was the first actor cast in it, which was a massive leap of faith on the part of Miguel and Ryan and HBO. The fact that I didn’t even have to audition was a big gamble, really. Because I’ve a cynical side, my first question was, ‘Well, who’s turned it down? Who doesn’t want to do it?’ And they said, ‘Nobody. It’s yours. We’re coming straight to you.’ And that’s a good way to get me in, because I was very flattered by that, I was really honored. Truthfully, I was,” says Considine.

Matt Smith, who has already found huge success for his runs as both the lead in BBC stalwart “Doctor Who” and Prince Philip in the first two seasons of Netflix smash “The Crown,” comes in as the show’s most recognizable star, with his trademark charisma on full display as the brash and brilliant Daemon.

“I loved his unpredictability,” Smith says. “That was one of the things that really drew me to Daemon in the first place. You never quite know where he’s going to go, even as an actor. That affords you a great deal of invention and allows you to play. It’s nice when you’re an actor and you don’t quite know where the scene’s going to take you. I really loved it. I had such a good time.”




Ryan J Condal is the co-creator and co-showrunner of “House of the Dragon.” (HBO)

Smith may have been having fun, but the shoot was grueling. It began in April 2021 and didn’t wrap until February 2022, filming across the UK, Spain and California.

“Nothing prepares you for the shooting. I walked in with my shoulders back and head high. A year later, I crawled out on my belly,” says Considine.

“Game of Thrones,” of course, was a show with massively popular female characters, an aspect that kept it relevant as the cultural paradigm shifted, with Danaerys Targaryen becoming a symbol of empowered women the world over. “House of the Dragon” takes that baton and runs with it, focusing first and foremost on its lead women characters, Princess Rhaenyra and Lady Alicent.

For the show’s female stars, getting on the same page with the showrunners over how women would be portrayed in the violent and sexist world in which it’s set was of paramount importance from day one.




Milly Alcock (left) and Emily Carey. (HBO)

“Both Olivia and I started speaking with Miguel Sapochnik really early,” says D’Arcy. “One of the questions that I came into the show with was: ‘How do you make sure you are telling a story from their point of view, when we are in a world that doesn’t afford them space?’”

The conversations went better than they expected, the two stars reveal.

“Miguel was incredibly receptive and really generous on all of that. He gave us the space to explore these characters,” Cooke says.

“Fundamentally, Miguel is really aware that he’s not a woman,” D’Arcy adds. “He was very willing to defer to us, if something came up in the text. If you have a question, you have every right to interrogate that. It’s been a collaborative process.”


Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor  to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival
Nadine Labaki was nominated for a Best International Feature Film Oscar for 2018’s “Capernaum.” (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2022

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor  to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival

DUBAI: Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki and Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor will receive Variety International Vanguard Awards at the upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.

Labaki, who was nominated for a Best International Feature Film Oscar for 2018’s “Capernaum,” will also appear at the festival as part of the “In Conversation” series on Dec. 3.

Kapoor rose to fame in 2007 with “Saawariya” and has since starred in 30 films.

“Nadine Labaki and Ranbir Kapoor are two remarkable talents in the film industry,” said Red Sea fest CEO Mohammed Al-Turki in a statement. “We are honored to be partnering with Variety to recognize their huge talent and contribution to the industry, and to be hosting ‘In Conversation’ events with each of them to hear about their past success and hopes for the future. Each a unique storyteller, we look forward to welcoming them to Jeddah.”


Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart

Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart
Nigerian artist Rema has nabbed the top spot on the first-ever regional chart with his hit “Calm Down.” (Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2022

Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart

Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart

DUBAI: The first-ever Official MENA Chart has been released with the support of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Here, we take a look at the songs that claimed the top six spots in this week’s countdown.  

#1  

Nigerian artist Rema has nabbed the top spot on the first-ever regional chart with his hit “Calm Down.” The weekly chart includes music streaming data from Anghami, Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube. 

#2 

In at number two is Egyptian artist Farid with “Ba’amaret Meen,” a lilting melody with heartfelt lyrics. 

#3 

The influence of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is apparent, with K-Pop superstar Jung Kook’s hit “Dreamers,” which he performed with Kuwaiti singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi at the event’s opening ceremony, nabbing the number three spot.  

#4 

Egyptian pop singer Ahmed Saad’s “Wasa3 Wasa3” came in at number four, proving the Egyptian music scene is one to be reckoned with.  

#5 

Another FIFA World Cup anthem, Ozuna, GIMS and RedOne’s “Arhbo” is currently a popular hit in the region. The hit features lyrics in French, Spanish, English and Arabic. 

#6 

In at number six is “Unholy” by British singer Sam Smith, featuring German singer Kim Petras. The song went viral on TikTok earlier this year.  


Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York

Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York
Amina Muaddi will receive the designer of the year prize at the 2022 FN Achievement Awards. (File/ Getty Images)
Updated 29 November 2022

Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York

Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York

DUBAI: Celebrity-loved Romanian Jordanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi has given her 1.3 million Instagram followers a glimpse of her recent trip to Japan before she receives the designer of the year prize at the 2022 FN Achievement Awards in New York on Nov. 30.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

The Footwear News awards is hosted by the American industry magazine that specializes in covering the international shoe industry. This year, Muaddi will be granted the designer of the year award, while Christian Louboutin will be given the lifetime achievement award. The best collaboration award will go to the “Manolo Blahnik for Birkenstock” collection, while the year’s best shoe has been unveiled as the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 by late designer Virgil Abloh.

Muaddi — who flew to Japan after visiting Qatar, where she attended the recent Fashion Trust Arabia awards — shared two carousel posts on Instagram, giving her followers an inside peek at her time in the country.

In the bevy of stylish photos, Muaddi can be seen enjoying Japanese cuisine, posing beside a luxury pool and exploring Tokyo by night.

The designer was joined by a number of friends on the trip, including US Palestinian model and musician Fai Khadra. 

Muaddi gave readers insight into her jet set lifestyle and career highs and lows in a telling interview with Footwear News in September.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

“I was so passionate, so I was willing to go through any hardship,” she told the publication. “There’s a reason why only so many people get to this point, because you get tested a lot.

“Many times, I was close to giving up. I had to part ways with my partner, with producers, I’ve had (orders) canceled. It’s not about what you go through, it’s how you survive the situation and how you thrive after it. It’s a never-ending lesson,” she added.

The designer told the magazine that this year alone, her brand’s global sales revenue will total $55 million but added that after becoming an established shoes and accessories maker, her hardships have changed.

“It’s a matter of navigating and continuing no matter what,” she said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

Muaddi launched her eponymous footwear line in August 2018, approximately one year after departing from her role as co-founder and creative director of luxury footwear label Oscar Tiye.

The shoemaker’s eponymous label’s distinct pumps, sling-backs, mules, boots and sandals in an array of vibrant colors and holographic designs have since garnered a loyal checklist of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber Baldwin.

She helped design the shoes for Rihanna’s Fenty collection. The collaboration was so successful that it received the Collaborator of the Year award at the 34th edition of the FN Achievement Awards.

In 2020, she debuted a range of jewelry and handbags and collaborated with Austrian brand Wolford on an exclusive 17-piece capsule collection of ready-to-wear looks in 2021.

In October 2021, she landed a spot on Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and Footwear News’s 50 Most Powerful Women list.


Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup

Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup
Updated 28 November 2022

Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup

Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup

DUBAI: Qatar Creates and CR Runway announced a fashion show, featuring more than 150 designers from 50 countries, set to take place on Dec. 16 at the FIFA World Cup.

The event will feature performances by the likes of DJ Snake, Kadim Al-Sahir, Khaled, Nancy Ajram, Ozuna, Zakes Bantwini and more with the proceeds going to Education Above All, a Qatari charity that aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for vulnerable and marginalized people, with a focus on the developing world.

A poster for the event. (Supplied)

Twenty-one Qatari brands will take part in the show, which will be made up of four choreographed runway presentations.

The show will feature an opening act with national ambassadors representing the 32 countries in the World Cup, all sporting customized jerseys. Then, two local Qatari brands — Aliya Al-Obaidly and Harlienz — will put on a performance entitled “Where the Sand Touches the Sea,” inspired by Qatar’s traditional practices of pearl diving.

The second act, titled “The Fashion World Tour,” will showcase works from designers from six continents. The third and final act, “One Night in Qatar,” will showcase haute couture and eveningwear created exclusively by international designers and brands for Qatar Fashion United by CR Runway.

The Qatar-based brands participating in the event are 1309, Al-Dukan, Aliya Al-Obaidly, Tamader Al-Sultan, Drizzle, Ghada Al-Buainain, Hairaat, Hamadis, Harlienz, Kaltham’s Pavilion, Lorenaa Michelle, Maryam Al-Darwish, Mhefhef, Muna Saad, Naila Al-Thani, Trzi, TIIYA, WAAD Designs, WADHA, Wit Noiz and Yasmin Mansour.


Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot

Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot
Updated 28 November 2022

Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot

Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot

DUBAI: US Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid has given fans a behind-the-scenes look at her latest campaign for Austrian jewelry label Swarovski.

Hadid, who was announced as the label’s brand ambassador in May, took to Instagram to share photographs from the set of her latest shoot. In the snaps, the model is dressed as a bedazzled fairy, complete with a set of delicate wings.

The model shared behind-the-scenes shots from her latest shoot for Swarovski. (Instagram)

The 26-year-old catwalk star took to Instagram earlier this year to share the news of her brand ambassadorship with her 56.4 million followers, writing: “Extremely honored and excited to be the new face of the iconic Swarovski.”

“Bella Hadid sums up the individualistic and transformative attitude of a new global generation,” said Engelbert in a statement at the time. “She is a multifaceted character who evades the boxes of rules and conformity. She goes from sporty to glamorous while remaining the same girl — the same Bella — with confidence and authority.

“Today, crystals are a dynamic part of our everyday wardrobe: A way of accentuating your individual style in a way that can be as casual as it can be elaborate. Bella is the poster girl for this state of mind,” added Engelbert.

Meanwhile, Hadid said she was “very familiar” with the “timeless and iconic brand” before the partnership.

“I love the new collections and what the brand has been doing, especially these past two years under the creative vision of Giovanna, and I really see Swarovski as the contemporary jewelry brand of the future,” she said- in a released statement. “Jewelry is about expression and celebrating individuality — Swarovski celebrates all people and the idea of modern glamour, and I love that.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SWAROVSKI (@swarovski)

 

Hadid was recently named British GQ magazine’s “most stylish person on the planet” for 2023 in a statement that mirrored Swarovski’s sentiments regarding the model’s ability to traverse various fashion styles and pull them off with aplomb.

The magazine commended Hadid for her  “ability to make menswear, womenswear, smartwear and even wavywear work.

“Hadid does menswear better than most men — and she can still wear everything and anything else. Tailoring. Prada loafers. Big denim jackets. There was even a tie at one point. It’s wavy, classic and uncomplicated all at once,” the magazine added.