House of the Dragon co-creator Ryan Condal has addressed the news that his co-showrunner in arms, Miguel Sapochnik, will be stepping down from his leadership position on the Game of Thrones prequel series.
Condal co-created House of the Dragon with Thrones architect George R.R. Martin, but he and Sapochnik, who directed some of the most beloved and ambitious episodes of the original Thrones, both shaped the new series into what it is today. Sapochnik also directs three out of the 10 episodes of season 1. Starting with season 2, Sapochnik will only be involved as an executive producer.
"It was definitely in Miguel's mind," Condal tells EW. "He's definitely lived in Westeros for a really long time. I was always potentially aware that he might have just set this one season up on his feet and got the feather in his cap of doing a show that he co-ran and had a hand in the conception and casting and making of, versus the original series where he definitely became a producer at the end, was certainly I think [Thrones showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan ["D.B." Weiss]'s most trusted filmmaker, but not in the way that he participated in House of the Dragon. So it was always in the back of my mind."
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO 'House of the Dragon' co-showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal present the first episode at the world premiere in Los Angeles
"I think at the end, he felt like he had said what he had to say," Condal continues. "He's a tremendously talented filmmaker, which is obvious from the work that everybody is seeing and will continue to see with episode 5 and 7. I think there's lots of stories that he has left to tell. And honestly, as a fan of his, I'm excited to see where he goes next."
Sapochnik has a first-look deal with HBO to develop multiple projects, so this won't be the last we've seen of his work at the Home Box Office network. As Condal mentioned, in addition to directing House of the Dragon's premiere episode, Sapochnik also directed episodes 6 and 7. In terms of whether he could return to the Thrones prequel to direct episodes in the future, Condal says Sapochnik won't for season 2, but anything beyond that, "Yes, sure, absolutely."
Alan Taylor, who directed some of the most formative episodes of the early seasons of Game of Thrones, is now stepping in to direct episodes of House of the Dragon, as well as executive produce, starting with season 2.
According to Condal, executives at HBO were the ones to bring up Taylor as a potential new addition. "That's a director that I just would have assumed was not available, but I've always wanted to work with with Alan," he says. "He's a legend, has worked on almost, I think, every one of my favorite television shows of all time. When HBO brought him up, we jumped all over it. We got on the phone and we chatted. We hit it off very quickly. He had already seen, I think by that point, the first episode of our show and was really excited about what we were doing. It was just a fast friendship that we developed. I'm excited to work with Alan and see what he brings to House to the Dragon."
Ollie Upton / HBO Emma D'Arcy and John MacMillan step into the roles of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon
Sources had told EW Sapochnik was stepping down from the majority of his duties over fatigue from being involved with the franchise for so long.
He said in a statement provided to EW in August, "Working within the GOT universe for the past few years has been an honor and a privilege, especially spending the last two with the amazing cast and crew of House of the Dragon. I am so proud of what we accomplished with season 1 and overjoyed by the enthusiastic reaction of our viewers. It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally. As I do so, though, I am deeply comforted to know that Alan will be joining the series. He's someone I've known and respected for a long time, and I believe this precious series could not be in safer hands. I am so glad to remain a part of the HBO and House of the Dragon family and, of course, I wish Ryan and his team success and all the best with season 2 and beyond."
"While personally I'm disappointed, because I think he has a great artistic vision, I understand, for the good of his health, he's got to take a long break and recharge himself and decide what else he wants to do next to that," Toussaint said. "I think the world's his oyster, because he's so incredibly talented."
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