With one week to go until the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) talked with CBS Sunday Morning about her time on the show, the multiple brain surgeries she had to undergo early in its run, and what playing this powerful character has meant to her:
It’s clear Clarke wants to talk about Dany’s final scene, or at least can’t wait for fans of the show to see how it plays out. What was her reaction when she read the final script? “It’s sort of almost impossible to answer that question…I have so much to say about that!” But does she? Of course not!
Clarke, always effervescent in interviews, is nothing like the often-somber character. “The big difference between me and Dan[y] [is] my sense of humor, in that I have one,” she laughed. “I mean, that lady ain’t cracking jokes!” Also good to know she listened to gangster rap before her audition to psych herself up before her audition.
Just a couple of months after the first season aired, Clarke had the first of two life-threatening brain aneurysms, as she revealed recently in The New Yorker. Obviously, this was a horrible experience, but Daenerys helped her get through it. “But then you go on set and you play a badass and you walk through fire, and that became the thing that just saved me from considering my own mortality.”
So how does she feel now that Game of Thrones is about to end?
There’s been so much life that I’ve lived in the ten years that I’ve been working on the show. So, you’re saying good-bye to so much more than just the character. I’m saying good-bye to my twenties! It feels as exciting as it does sad, ’cause I can’t wait for the next thing, the next decade. Literally can’t wait for it.
Speaking of the final season, Clarke talked to Entertainment Weekly about Daenerys’ state of mind as she heads to Winterfell, mostly so she can fight the White Walkers but also to meet the family of her new lover, Jon Snow:
I like to think that it’s like Meet the Parents. It’s like: ‘I hope they like me. This dude’s wicked. It’s a real good thing we got going on. He’s the final piece. We’re destined for greatness and world domination is a breath away.’ And so I need to be like: ‘Can I braid your hair, Sansa? Little Arya, come over here, let’s play some cricket.’ So there’s that. And then, very, very quickly, it’s like: ‘Wait, is it just me, or do they hate me?’
There have been some rumblings about Jon’s sisters not getting along with his new girlfriend, and that’s before Bran breaks the news about them being related. We’re all looking forward to seeing how that shakes out. “The thing I now realize is she’s not a scared little girl anymore,” Clarke continued. “So there’s less room for vulnerability or sentimentality or soft edges.”
Clarke also talked to MSN about Daenerys’ relationship with Jon Snow, and how she couldn’t wait to read the final script to see what would happen to the new couple. “Yeah, I was sent the script and I read it in an afternoon,” she recalled. “Then I just left my house and walked for about three hours around London, aimlessly wandering – because it’s so epic.”
So how does Dany’s relationship with Jon Snow compare to the ones she had with Khal Drogo and Daario Naharis?
It’s the most contemporary relationship she’s had in the show. They’re incredibly similar, they have so much that binds them. He brings out an honesty in her that she hasn’t experienced. So I think that’s an interesting relationship.’
When it comes to ending a show like Game of Thrones, Clarke knows you can’t please everyone. “You want everyone to be happy. But in the final season of any show, there’s going to be upset people, there’s going to be fights within friendship groups, there’s going to be, ‘Who’s side are you on?'”
And even if the ending isn’t beloved by all, Clarke thinks this is the perfect time for it. ”I’m a big fan of TV shows finishing when you’re still ready for more,” she said. “If the series goes on too long, you’re doing a disservice to both the characters and also to the writing. It’s important to have that want for more to still be there.” Speaking to EW, she at least assures fans that the cast and crew went above and beyond to make the final season a memorable one:
[Camera checks] take longer, costumes a little bit better, hair and makeup is a bit sharper — every choice, every conversation, every attitude has this air of ‘This is it.’ Everything feels more intense. I had a scene with someone and I turned to him and said, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to do this ever again,’ and that brings tears to my eyes.
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres this Sunday, April 14.