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House of the Dragon’s Olivia Cooke Talks of Mental Breakdown


House of the Dragon’s Olivia Cooke Talks of Mental Breakdown


LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Olivia Cooke attends the

Despite being just 28-years-old, Olivia Cooke has been acting for a decade; yet her most recent role as Alicent Hightower in “House of the Dragon” is arguably her most high profile job. As Cooke prepares for newfound notoriety, she is keen to ensure her mental health always comes first following what she describes as a “full mental breakdown” at the age of 22.

The actor, who grew up in Oldham, Greater Manchester, opened up to The Observer by detailing her difficult experiences in her early twenties. “It was a big old lovely cocktail: being homesick and not knowing it, having not stopped since I was 18, being on my own for large swathes of time,” Cooke says.

She explains that she always had a penchant for melancholy: “I literally thought, as an eight-year-old: I don’t think I’ve ever been 100%”, but it was in 2016 when things came to a head for her. “It was bad, bad. Awful, actually,” she says. She was shooting “Ready Player One” and “Thoroughbreds” at the time and didn’t give herself any time off to work on her mental health. “Oh, no, I was working all the way through,” she adds. “I was very good at hiding it.”

Gradually, her mental health improved over time, although she highlights that it wasn’t until 2019 that she had days without “incessant, persistent, anxious thoughts”. One of the big pulls for the “House of the Dragon” role was that she could move back to the UK and stay put for a solid length of time. “What was really healing was moving back to London,” she says.

Cooke also admits she’d never seen “Game of Thrones” when she accepted the job. “I resist things that are popular, but to my own detriment, because it’s really f*cking good.” The popularity of the show has seen her catapulted to a whole new level of fame. “It felt amazing. But then also, obviously – oh my God,” she tells the publication, as she expresses nerves at the scale of the TV show. “Is my life about to change in a really scary way? And: what have I done?”

There’s no denying Cooke’s life is on the cusp of changing, yet with self-care proving to be at the forefront of her mind, there’s a strong sense it will change for the better. “I just feel so solid in who I am… Weirdly, the older I get, the younger I feel.” Cooke’s zest for life, having grown from her past experiences, prove how far she’s come as she declares, “I’m quite content, for the first time in years.”

Watch “House of the Dragon” on Mondays on Sky Atlantic and NOW.


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