Clarke also talked extensively about the nude scenes she has played, both on Game of Thrones and elsewhere, noting that season 1 of the HBO show had a “fuckton of nudity,” as indeed it did. “Obviously I took the job and then they sent me the scripts and I was reading them, and I was, like, ‘Oh, there’s the catch!’” she remembered. “But I’d come fresh from drama school, and I approached this as a job – if it’s in the script then it’s clearly needed, then this is what this is and I’m gonna make sense of it, and this is my job, and that’s what I’m gonna do and everything’s gonna be cool.”
So I kinda came to terms with [the nudity] beforehand, but then going in and doing it… I’m floating through this first season and I have no idea what I’m doing, I have no idea what any of this is. I’ve never been on a film set like this before, I’d been on a film set twice before then, and now I’m on a film set completely naked with all of these people, and I don’t know what I’m meant to do and I don’t know what’s expected of me, and I don’t know what you want and I don’t know what I want.
Those early scenes were hard for Clarke to play, she explained, but she did it in part because she didn’t think she was in a position to demand anything be changed. “Regardless of there being nudity or not, I would have spent that first season thinking I’m not worthy of requiring anything, I’m not worthy of needing anything at all, because…imposter syndrome times a million,” she said, also reminding us that she was brought on to play Daenerys after the actress cast in the pilot, Tamzin Merchant, was let go. “Whatever I’m feeling is wrong, I’m gonna cry in the bathroom and then I’m gonna come back and we’re gonna do the scene and it’s gonna be completely fine.”
In those early days, costar Jason Momoa (Jason Momoa) helped Clarke feel more comfortable, asking for someone to get her a robe in between takes. “[I]t was definitely hard, which is why the scenes when I got to do them with Jason were wonderful, because he was like, ‘No, sweetie, this isn’t okay.’ And I was like, ‘Ohhhh.’”
It’s only now I realize how fortunate I was with that…Cause Jason was an experienced actor…He was like, ‘Sweetie, this is how it’s meant to be and this is how it’s not meant to be’…He was so kind and considerate and cared about me as a human being.
As Clarke notes, the climate around nudity was very different when Game of Thrones started filming a decade ago. If they made that pilot now, Clarke mused, it would be a “very different situation.”
In the early days, Game of Thrones was almost famous for its nudity, some of which was mandated by the network. The cringiest story I remember about that came from director Neil Marshall, who recalls working on season 2’s “Blackwater” and having an HBO executive all by order him to feature full frontal nudity in a scene.
Happily, as the show went on and became more successful, the producers had more creative control and the gratuitous nudity lessoned. An intimacy coordinator, which are now much more common on film sets, was finally brought on in 2018, and the nude scenes that remained were more related to the plot. “When I did the last nudity that I did for the show, which was walking through the fire the second time around, I was like, ‘I am owning this. This is mine. They’ve asked me to do it, and I’m fucking game,'” Clarke recalled. “But again, it brings into question what it is like being under the gaze of people you’ll never meet, people you’ll never know…And that’s fucking confusing when you’re a young girl.”
This was back in the day, so now things are different…And I’m a lot more savvy about what I’m comfortable with, and what I am okay with doing. Like, I’ve had fights on set before where I’m like, ‘No, the sheet stays up’, and they’re like, ‘You don’t wanna disappoint your Game of Thrones fans’. And I’m like, ‘Fuck you.’
Hopefully, the era of careless, pointless nudity in shows and movies is drawing to a close, with people like Clarke leading the way. And by the way, just for clarity’s sake, Mashable confirms that the anecdote Clarke gives above — about being asked to do nudity lest she “disappoint her Game of Thrones fans,” is about a set that isn’t Game of Thrones, although some outlets have reported otherwise.