House of the Dragon Gets its First Lannister, Signaling an Epic Early Battle

Games of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon has added more cast members, with one crucially set to play the head of the Lannister family.

Jefferson Hall on Taboo.
Photo: FX

The rains of Castamere shall soon weep o’er the hall that is House of the Dragon. That’s because HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series has just cast some interesting new characters, some of whom notably bear the Lannister surname, indicating a deviously game-changing presence. Indeed, with the prequel set to showcase the build-up to a historically protracted bit of royal Targaryen infighting known as the Dance of the Dragons, House Lannister still has a role to play, even some 200 years before the events of the main series.   

As officially announced, House of the Dragon has added characters Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong (Ryan Corr), Lord Jason Lannister/Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall), Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch), Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham McTavish), Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Patterson) and Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes). Yet, amongst the group, Hall’s Lannister role immediately raises a red, lion-emblazoned flag, seeing as it confirms the most sinister, habitually-backstabbing family in Westeros—which is saying something. Yet, the casting is especially notable, since it will have the actor in the dual duty of playing both Jason and his twin brother Tyland, the latter of whom, officially described as “a crafty and calculating politician,” will live up to the family’s reputation for being a conniving catalyst for war.

House of the Dragon cast: Ryan Corr, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch.
House of the Dragon cast: Graham McTavish, Matthew Needham, Bill Patterson and Gavin Spokes.

Indeed, while the series is set several generations before the beheading of Ned Stark, the Red Wedding, the sacking of Highgarden, and other infamously imperious examples from the horrendous house’s proverbial greatest hits album, George R.R. Martin’s literary lore—outside the main A Song of Ice and Fire Novels—points to a significant Lannister presence that shapes the overall events of House of the Dragon, specifically regarding an early moment in the Dance of the Dragons war, the Battle at the Red Fork. During this period, Jason Lannister is the Lord of Casterly Rock and, despite being a relatively young man, is the head of the family. Yet, he’s a somewhat benign figure, who’s simply living the typical life of a Westerosi aristocrat, married to Lady Johanna of House Westerling, with five daughters and a son (not counting the obligatory bastards, obviously). Thus, in a fate not typically dealt to a Lannister, Jason is destined to find his house thrust into war due to circumstances not of his own doing. Moreover, he’ll fatefully find himself on the front lines of the aforementioned battle, which will shape the fate of the family for generations to come.

Said circumstances stem from twin brother Tyland, who’s indicatively nicknamed “the Hooded Hand.” This role will have Hall performing more in line with the kind of manipulative, unrepentantly-covetous Lannister family members we know, such as Tywin, Jaime and Cersei. Pertinently, the ambitious Tyland has risen in the ranks of Westeros to serve as Master of Ships for King Viserys I (Paddy Considine); a position from which he will surreptitiously plant the seeds of an eventual civil war in the minds of would-be supporters of Aegon II Targaryen to supplant the lawful royal succession of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), who, as youths, the two brothers once attempted to woo to no success. In fact, Martin’s lore chronicles Tyland’s deceitful rise to Master of Coin to even becoming Hand of the King.

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At this point, we are going to risk some potential show spoilers (notwithstanding any alterations to Martin’s lore), avoiding the extensively egregious ones, specifically when getting back to Lannister household head Jason. That’s because, upon the eventual Dance of the Dragons, Tyland’s machinations resulted in him being Master of Coin to the throne-usurping Aegon II, a position that automatically forced House Lannister as a whole to back the Greens, the side that—represented by a green version of the Targaryen’s three-headed dragon—went against Rhaenyra’s lawfully-backed rise, with her supporters dubbed the Blacks. For Jason, this will result in him having to lead a battle that will prove watershed—both figuratively and literally—for the war in the Battle at the Red Fork, tasked with braving an obstructive river, using costly strategies against enemies from the Western Riverlands in their native homeland that, despite their success, went against Sun Tzu’s fundamental lesson on terrain.

On an interesting sidenote, Jason/Tyland actor Jefferson Hall is actually a returning alumnus of the Game of Thrones universe from very early on. He played the two-episode-spanning Season 1 role of a knight representing House Arryn, named Hugh of the Vale. The role, while intrinsically minor, ended up with a brutally memorable climax in Episode 4, “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things,” when he faced the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, in the Hand’s Tourney. Putting it delicately, the tilt did not go in his favor, and the not-so-delicate end result was the Mountain’s lance being broken off into Hugh’s throat, yielding a slow, hard-to-watch, blood-spewing death. It was a crucial early moment for the show that further signaled its unremittingly brutal tone. The actor has since put in a memorable run on History’s Vikings, appeared in FX on Hulu miniseries Devs, was pit against Tom Hardy on FX’s Taboo (as seen in the title image), and even appeared on the big screen in director Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. While Hall won’t run afoul of the Mountain again, his impact on House of the Dragon stands to be monumental this time around.

Regardless, House of the Dragon’s arrival of the Lannister family further forges connections to the story DNA of Game of Thrones, which it will certainly need in order to recapture the global fandom that scattered away since the main show’s 2019 conclusion—which many still qualify as controversially disappointing. Auspiciously, the prequel is partly under the purview of franchise royalty in Miguel Sapochnik, who shares showrunner duties with Ryan Condal, both of whom are executive producers alongside George R.R. Martin and Vince Gerardis. The 10-episode-ordered inaugural season is scheduled to hit HBO sometime in 2022.