In a wide-ranging interview with The Wrap, Emilia Clarke discusses everything from her Emmy-nominated role as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones to the critically panned Terminator Genisys, where she played lead character Sarah Connor. While the latter was not well-received by critics, Clarke doesn’t regret doing it.
I’m lucky that I’m in this brilliant Game of Thrones show, but it doesn’t exclude you from experiencing things that aren’t as wildly popular or successful … I feel much happier about learning lessons from… I’m not going to call it a failure since it made like a bajillion dollars! We did OK! [Laughs] But I think that’s what you learn. You learn when things aren’t peaches and roses and everything isn’t beautiful all the time.
Despite the film’s poor reception, headlining a summer blockbuster represented a new step for the 29-year-old actress. And thanks to that silver wig on Thrones, Clarke largely remains anonymous out in public.
I’m also lucky because the wig changes everything about me. Put me in something else and it’s like, “Who’s that girl?”HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 10: Actress Emilia Clarke attends the premiere of HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” Season 6 at TCL Chinese Theatre on April 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Clarke has also embraced her role as the dragon queen on Game of Thrones, and enjoys knowing she will always be known for that part.
I love it! It’s a wonderful thing. I think of actors that I love and their iconic roles, and I can love and appreciate everything that they do, but there is still that one thing… I’m so lucky to be known for this. She’s got range and she’s got an arc, and she’s got so many wonderful qualities. It’s not a regular television show where it’s very much the same character coming back every year. This is different.
Daenerys has grown during the show, emerging from her timid beginnings to become a confident, if controversial, ruler. When Clarke first took the role, she took her copy of A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, with her everywhere she went.
I had my notes all in it, [it was] dog-eared and I carried all of my notebooks around. Then with each season it becomes more about what the script is saying, getting to know that person.
With the seventh season of Thrones filming later than normal, Clarke has found herself with some unexpected free time. She’s making the most of it, and is writing a comedy with her friend Lola Frears.
This is the most joyous, easiest thing I’ve ever done. We’re in the middle of it and it’s wonderful. We’ll see what happens. It’s just good to stoke as many fires as possible.
Clarke’s interest in writing is based partly on the fact that she didn’t see roles out there that she wanted to play. So why not make her own?
And I’m lucky, I get sent all the badass stuff because I get to play Daenerys. I get the cream of the crop in terms of strong female roles. But also a lot of comedies I loved were written by people who starred in them. If you read all the biographies of comedians, they’re coming up with their friends and they’re writing for each other and they grow together. It creates this gorgeous thing.
Clarke also feels that her celebrity comes with responsibility to speak out on issues like the gender pay gap, something recently highlighted by fellow actress Jennifer Lawrence.
The more people who talk about that the better, I think. There was a while where I was like, “Well, we’re all up here in the viewing gallery with a very cushy point of view, when we should also be talking about the gender disparity for everybody in the Western world, talking about gender equality for business people throughout—for everyone in their workplaces instead of just people in Hollywood.
As for Game of Thrones, Clarke is coming to grips with the fact that it’ll be ending soon. “It’s not going to be nice when the show ends, obviously,” she said. “It’s going to be huge, epic. But I’m excited.” She’s now looking toward what Daenerys Targaryen’s legacy will be.
I just want the empowerment of people watching a character like this to light a spark in their brain, like, “No, you don’t need to have dragons to be a badass in your day-to-day life.” Who doesn’t love a hero? And there’s so many on the show. So I hope that’s what the show will leave.