Which Prequel Has More Promise: “House of the Dragon” or “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”?

CAST: Which show’s actors are you more likely to recognize?

The Rings of Power While the LOTR films kicked off with a Fellowship full of familiar faces (Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, and so on), the TV show seems to feel no need for star power. A24 fans may recognize Morfydd Clark from the 2019 horror movie Saint Maud (Clark plays the titular Maud), or some viewers might ID Nazanin Boniadi as Nora from ten episodes of How I Met Your Mother. But Amazon seems confident that Tolkien is the only star they need.

House of the Dragon Ironically, when Game of Thrones first premiered, one of its most recognizable cast members was Sean Bean, who lent the show fantasy credibility thanks to his having played Boromir in Fellowship of the Ring. His clout likely inspired many LOTR fans to sample GoT…and eventually turn its cast of mostly unknowns into big stars.

House of the Dragon isn’t settling for just one star this time. Matt Smith, who plays the nefariously charming Daemon Targaryen, also has strong bona fides with the sci-fi/fantasy crowd, having played Doctor Who for three seasons. (He’s also known for his more Earthbound roles, notably as Prince Philip on The Crown.) As King Viserys, Paddy Considine is recognizable from Simon Pegg’s Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, as well as the third season of Peaky Blinders. Rhys Ifans, who blew up in America in Notting Hill, has been in everything from The Amazing Spider-Man to the penultimate Harry Potter film. And there are many others with familiar credits: You might not remember where you saw the cast of Dragon, but you’ll recognize their faces.

SHOWRUNNERS: Which creative leaders seem to have more credibility for this kind of show?

Rings of Power Showrunners Payne and McKay have dabbled in the worlds of theatrical franchises; the two did uncredited work on Star Trek Beyond and were tapped at one point to work on a script for the fourth Trek film, which earned them high praise from J.J. Abrams. In fact, Abrams apparently recommended the duo to Amazon for the Rings job, per a Deadline report. Additionally, the duo worked on an initial draft of Dwayne Johnson’s, Jungle Cruise.

House of the Dragon Sapochnik directed some of the best episodes of Thrones (most notably, “Battle of the Bastards”), but he’s not really a writer. Condal, on the other hand, ran USA’s alien-invasion series Colony, which ran for three seasons to decent reviews. Like Payne and McKay, Condal also has studied under a Lost guru: Colony was created by Carlton Cuse.

Though none of the writers have a credit that screams, “Oh, they were born to take on this franchise,” it’s only fair to note that the GoT showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, had similarly eclectic IMDb credits before taking on Westeros.

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