Who Is Alys Rivers on House of the Dragon?


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Spoilers below.

Season 2 of House of the Dragon is introducing all sorts of new storylines and characters, but fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Alys Rivers. Here’s what to know about the mysterious woman, who makes her first appearance on the series in season 2, episode 3.

She’s said to be a witch.

Variety described Alys as a healer who lives in Harrenhal, but her lore George R.R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, the source material for House of the Dragon, is more complex. In the book, she’s described as a wet nurse at Harrenhal and a bastard child of House Strong. Some even call her a witch. (Could she be the spinoff series’ response to Game Of Thrones’ witchy woman, Melisandre?)

She’s also said to have prophetic visions. In one instance, she’s described as seeing a vision “in a storm cloud, in a mountain pool at dusk, in the fire we lit to cook our suppers.” She eventually becomes a powerful force for the Targaryen’s Green faction.

In House of the Dragon, Alys first appears when Daemon Targaryen encounters her upon his arrival at Harrenhal. While wandering the castle alone at night, she eerily tells him, “You will die in this place.” Did she see that in the future too?

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She’s portrayed by Gayle Rankin.

The character is brought to life by the Tony nominee, who appeared on Netflix’s Glow, The Greatest Showman, Perry Mason, and Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club on Broadway.

“My particular storyline is quite, for the moment, contained,” Rankin told Town & Country of her role. “Contained, let’s say—very wild, but contained.”

She continued, “I’m obsessed with her. I’ve always given the opportunity to play people who are pretty prophetic, which is cool, but it’s a lot of pressure! She’s so fucking cool. I want to really ground her and find her humanity—I always try to find my way into that, but she has a lot of power, too. Just really exciting. I don’t think we’ve seen half of it yet, so that will be fun.”

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Gayle Rankin at the 2024 Tony Awards.

While teasing more about her character to The Hollywood Reporter, Rankin said being on the show was a “joyous” experience, calling her role “a kind of Shakespeare cosplay, but with reverence.”

Rankin told The Cut, “Alys is a very mysterious character. I guess that is Gayle Rankin’s MO. The mystery. The enigma.”

Alys forges an important relationship.

(Warning: spoilers.)

If you’re curious about Alys’ future, you can look to a few other details available in the book. Fire & Blood suggests she becomes important when Aemond Targaryen retakes control of Harrenhal and spares her life—they then begin a sexual relationship and she is accused of using potions to make him fall in love with her. It might take more than one season before everything Alys is capable of is fully fleshed out on screen. And we’ve yet to see whether the show’s writers will alter her story for the screen at all.

Watch this space as we learn more about Alys this season.

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