Warning: Contains Spoilers
It’s hard to think of any actor more capable of bringing Daenerys Targaryen to life than Emilia Clarke.
Clarke brought so many shades to the mother of dragons; intimidating yet idealistic, capable of unspeakable evil yet so heartrendingly desirous of love. The 32-year-old actor brought us a theatrical, hot-tempered leader, with commanding speech abilities and a purposeful confidence.
Clarke also nailed Daenerys’ quieter, more human moments; her loyalty to her close friends, her personal betrayals and griefs. We loved and admired Daenerys all at once, enchanted by the mythology she wove around herself with each new triumph. And then we feared her.
As was the case with her rise to power, Daenerys’ descent into madness was strikingly realised through Clarke’s performance.
From her expressive face to her cold, searching gazes, it was clear that the girl who walked out of a fire with three new dragons was going through a new transformation. And not one which would add to her illustrious string of titles.
Clarke has previously spoken about how much she has put into the character of Daenerys, and it is only natural that she would have an emotional response to the way she met her demise.
As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Clarke learned of Daenerys’ fate in October 2017, receiving the electronic script just as she landed at Heathrow following a short holiday.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Clarke revealed how she had ‘completely flipped out’ after receiving the script:
[She said to her travelling companion] ‘Oh my god! I gotta go! I gotta go!’ And they’re like, ‘You gotta get your bags!’
Once at home, Clarke had to steel herself for reading the script, revealing:
I got myself situated.
I got my cup of tea. I had to physically prepare the space and then begin reading them.
Once she realized everything Daenerys would be going through in season eight, Clarke was reportedly left in tears:
And I went for a walk. I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours. I’m like, ‘How am I going to do this?’
According to Entertainment Weekly, she added:
I genuinely did this, and it’s embarrassing and I’m going to admit it to you.
I called my mom and [said] ‘I read the scripts and I don’t want to tell you what happens but can you just talk me off this ledge? It really messed me up.’
And then I asked my mom and brother really weird questions. They were like: ‘What are you asking us this for? What do you mean do I think Daenerys is a good person? Why are you asking us that question? Why do you care what people think of Daenerys? Are you okay?’
And I’m all: ‘I’m fine! … But is there anything Daenerys could do that would make you hate her?’
Daenerys’ good intentions may have become twisted to the extreme, but there is no danger of fans ever hating this character, who will undoubtedly go down as a darkly complex icon of television history, like Walter White and Tony Soprano before her.
Thank you so much to Emilia Clarke for caring about Daenerys until the very end.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.