Our Mother of Dragons, Emilia Clarke, has landed the cover of the newest issue of the Wall Street Journal Magazine! The cover feature details Emilia’s journey from drama school kid to Emmy nominee and everything in between to become Game of Thrones’ breakthrough actress.
Emilia’s desire to perform started at an early age when she would accompany her father to many of his jobs as a as a theatrical sound designer:
“It’s a kind of magic,” she says now. “I became fascinated with what it was like to fill that space—not just with people, but with a performance. And with the way you’re all creating something together.”
At 10 years old her father took her to her first open audition for a show in London’s West End where she arrived slightly unprepared and had to improvise the musical portion:
“I was learning a folk song in school about a donkey, so I decided to sing that,” she says. “They said, ‘Do you know anything more current?’ I then gave them my best rendition of the Spice Girls, complete with dance moves—that’s where my musical career ended. It made me realize that I wasn’t quite ready. I think my parents were trying to give me a healthy dose of realism early on.”
And so she made it her mission to get into drama school, applying to every one she could, and eventually graduated from Drama Centre London. It was only a short time after her graduation she found herself in Los Angeles in a room filled with HBO executives including Benioff and Weiss who recounted the meeting:
“We needed an actress who could convincingly embody both the timid, voiceless Dany we first meet, and the Mother of Dragons she later becomes,” say Benioff and Weiss, who made each auditioning actress read from both the pilot and the season finale. “Some of the young women could do fearful but not fearsome—one or two could do the reverse. Only Emilia nailed both.”
Although she had nailed the heart of Daenerys that didn’t stop her from delving deeper into the source material, keeping a copy of the book with her as a study guide:
“It was like having a cheat sheet,” she says. “I took it everywhere with me and kept referring to it, looking for more clues.” Now, she says, she sees more of Dany in herself, and vice versa. “It’s the growth of a girl into a woman,” she says. “She’s being thrown into the deep end, to see if she can sink or swim, and she decides to do it her way. It was wonderful to see a character with such humble beginnings, and such low self-esteem, beginning to trust herself. So my feelings within filming it were echoed—in a much more dramatic way, obviously.”
All of her study may not have prepared her for this fan moment, when she realized the Mother of Dragons doesn’t always get the day off:
“It was his birthday, and he was drunk,” the 26-year-old actress says. “And he said, ‘Please, Mother of Dragons, sing me “Happy Birthday.” ‘ ” After Clarke obliged, the tipsy stranger offered an impromptu critique of her Thrones work: ‘You’re doing it all wrong, you know? You’re f—kin’ it up,’ ” Clarke recounts, mimicking the carouser’s gruff-bloke tone, before breaking out in a laugh. “I kind of wanted to pursue him and ask for notes: ‘What exactly did you mean?’ ” she says. “But the reality of taking a book and turning it into a television series is that you’re dealing with people’s imaginations. It’s impossible to please everyone.”
For Emilia’s full interview and some more pretty pictures visit WSJ.Com!