ALL HAIL THE QUEEN
In her role as Mother of Dragons in blockbuster series, Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke has established herself as an actress to take notice of.
We discover the woman behind the crown…
Occasionally a role comes along that completely changes the landscape for an actor. Think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, or Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. For London-born Emilia, that role was Daenerys Targaryen – Mother of Dragons in record-breaking HBO series, Game of Thrones.
A worldwide phenomenon, since it reached TV screens back in 2011, Game of Thrones (GoT) has been a force of nature – with millions of fans across the globe obsessed with the happenings in Westeros.
Of course, back in 2010 when Emilia was cast in the role, no one was sure whether this fantasy series, with its themes of sex, incest, betrayal and plenty of bloodshed, would appeal to audiences. Thankfully, the series has proven to be a runaway hit.
Speaking to vulture.com back in 2011 about her role and the impact it has had on her life, Emilia said:
“All of the press and stuff — that’s the scary stuff. The acting is what I got trained to do, but this is something quite different. Hopefully the experience of filming has made me more professional, it’s made me more ready for the rest of my career. It seems like everything I’m doing at the moment is for the first time, so there’s a lot to take on.”
An often-discussed aspect of Emilia’s role in GoT is the amount of screen time Emilia spends naked. Taking to Instagram, Emilia wrote:
“Sometimes explicit scenes are required and make sense for the characters/story, as they do in Westeros. If it’s gratuitous for gratuitous sake, then I will discuss with a director on how to make it more subtle. In either case, like a good Mother of Dragons, I’m always in control.”
Emilia’s passion for acting began when she was small, and she took every opportunity to take part in school productions.
Finishing her education at Drama Centre London, a drama school in King’s Cross in 2009, Emilia’s big break was just around the corner…
Appearing in daytime soap, Doctors, Emilia got her first taste of paid acting work. Now a paid actor, this initial role led to her being cast as Savannah Roundtree in made-for-TV movie, Triassic Attack, a role which led to her receiving critical acclaim.
Beyond the throne
While it was as Daenerys that Emilia has gained wider prominence, the actress has been steadily learning her craft and working on interesting film projects for many years.
Emilia’s back catalogue of movie roles includes starring as Sally in 2012’s Spike Island, a movie about friends heading to a The Stone Roses gig. Emilia followed this up with Jude Law vehicle, Dom Hemingway (2013). The movie saw Emilia play the role of Evelyn, Jude Law’s character’s daughter. The black-comedy drama received mixed reviews, however a review on LA Times.com said of Emilia’s performance:
“Evelyn has both the cynicism and softness of someone raised with disappointments. Evelyn’s indie rocker performance by Clarke is one of ‘Dom Hemingway’s’ most hauntingly sensitive moments. It is wonderful, yet completely out of character for the film, though Dom has a tendency to turn to mush around Evelyn too.”
Choosing roles on gut instinct, rather than as part of some wider career masterplan, in 2015 Emilia turned her attention to action. Specifically, as the iconic role of Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys.
Speaking to LA Times.com about being offered the role, Emilia said:
“I was, like, ‘You are offering me a part playing Sarah Connor? Who the [hell] turns that down?’ And everyone’s, like, ‘Um, everyone would turn that down because it’s too much pressure.’ And I’m, like, it’s my innocence and optimism again! There I go, just thinking I can do it all!”
And do it all she can, as she proved in yet another switch from the high-octane action of the Terminator series to the romance and drama of 2016’s Me Before You.
Based on the beloved book of the same name, Me Before You deals with some challenging themes and sees Emilia taking the lead role of Lou, a carer tasked with looking after quadriplegic, Will, played by Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin.
Speaking to LA Times.com, Me Before You writer, JoJo Moyes describes her thoughts on Emilia’s casting:
“Frankly, I was a little bit sceptical, like, the Mother of Dragons? How is that gonna work?”
But it did, with Emilia winning over audiences as the film, which cost $20 million to make, went on to earn $208 million at the box office – demonstrating Emilia’s star power.
Not content with one iconic role, in 2018 Emilia will step into another massive franchise – the world of Star Wars. Set before the events of A New Hope, Solo: A Stars Wars story focuses on Han Solo’s, (played by Alden Ehrenreich), back story and sees Emilia take on the role of Qi’Ra. As with all before it, this latest film is shrouded in secrecy until its release, with the cast remaining tight-lipped on the plot, though speaking to Rolling Stone, Emilia teased:
“All I can say is that she’s awesome. Like, legit, that’s all I can actually get away with saying.”
And the award goes to…
Emilia has had her fair share of award nominations, including three Emmy awards, three Critics’ Choice Awards and five Screen Actors Guild Awards for her role in GoT.
With critical and fan acclaim, it is no surprise that 2017 saw Emilia become one of the highest paid actors on TV, pulling in a whopping £2 million per episode on Game of Thrones. One thing is for sure – Emilia has a belly full of fire for the future.
Get to know Emilia
Seven need-to-know facts about Emilia…
- Emilia turned down the role of Anastasia Steel in Fifty Shades of Grey telling Marie Claire:
‘’I’ll never say, “I’m never doing nudity” because I’ve already done it, but I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.’’
- Loved by GoT fans, Emilia gets £2 million per episode.
- She has a bumblebee tattoo on her little finger.
- She has 15.9 million Instagram followers.
- During her Game of Thrones audition, she did the funky-chicken dance – clearly it worked!
- In 2013, Emilia made her Broadway debut playing Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
- A newly discovered species of sea slug has been named Tritonia Khaleesi in honour of Emilia’s GoT character.