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Who is Olivia Cooke?

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With new episodes of House of the Dragon coming out every week (finally!!), let’s learn more about one of the main actresses that contributes to the tension, the politics, and the betrayal that makes up the fantastical TV series: Olivia Cooke, who plays Alicent Hightower.

Olivia Cooke is a distinguished English actress renowned for her versatility and captivating screen presence. Born on December 27th, 1993, in Oldham, Greater Manchester, she came from a family of “non-actors:” her mother was a sales representative and her father was a retired police officer. When she was younger, Cooke practiced gymnastics and ballet, as well as performing with her after-school drama program, Oldham Theatre Workshop. Cooke’s acting journey at a young age displayed a natural talent that would soon propel her into the limelight. She attended Oldham Sixth Form College, where she studied drama. Her first significant break came with the role of Emma Decody in the critically acclaimed television series Bates Motel (2013-2017). Cooke’s portrayal of the intelligent and resilient Emma earned her considerable praise and showcased her ability to handle complex characters with depth and nuance.

Following her success in Bates Motel, Cooke transitioned seamlessly into film, taking on roles that demonstrated her wide-ranging acting skills. She starred in the horror film The Quiet Ones (2014) and the sci-fi thriller The Signal (2014), both of which underscored her ability to convey intensity and intrigue. However, her performance as the lead in the indie drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) truly cemented her status as a rising star. Playing Rachel, a teenager battling leukemia, Cooke delivered a heart-wrenching and authentic performance that garnered widespread acclaim.

In subsequent years, Olivia Cooke continued to expand her repertoire with diverse roles across various genres. She appeared in the dark comedy thriller Thoroughbreds (2017) and played Art3mis/Samantha in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Ready Player One (2018), further establishing her presence in mainstream cinema. Her portrayal of Becky Sharp in the miniseries Vanity Fair (2018) also received positive reviews, highlighting her adeptness at bringing literary characters to life with charm and complexity.

Some of her other, perhaps lesser-known, projects include:

  • Blackout (2012), a mini-TV series and her first onscreen project
  • Ouija (2014), where she played Laine Morris alongside Ana Coto, Shelley Hennig, and Daren Kagasoff
  • Pixie (2020), a comedic thriller
  • Sound of Metal (2019), where she played Lou alongside Riz Ahmed’s Ruben Stone

More recently, Cooke takes on a pivotal role in the Max series House of the Dragon (2022), the prequel to Game of Thrones (2011-2019). As Alicent Hightower, her performance adds layers of intrigue and intensity to the storied world of Westeros. Her work in this series is praised for contributing significantly to the show’s narrative depth and dramatic impact.

Beyond her specific roles, Olivia Cooke is recognized for her unwavering commitment to her craft and her continuous evolution as an actress. She has earned a reputation for selecting roles that challenge her and allow her to explore a broad spectrum of human experiences. Critics and audiences alike appreciate her ability to bring authenticity and emotional resonance to her characters, making her one of the most compelling actresses of her generation.

Olivia Cooke is an accomplished actress whose career continues to ascend through a combination of talent, dedication, and an impressive array of performances across television and film. Her journey from a young aspirant in Greater Manchester to an acclaimed star in Hollywood is a testament to her remarkable skills and relentless passion for storytelling.