It’s not just you – even Emilia Clarke struggled with Dany’s character arc

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It’s not just you – even Emilia Clarke struggled with Dany’s character arc
'I really just had to sit there and wrestle with how I could make good on what they had written'


MANILA, Philippines – If you, like millions of fans, rooted for and loved Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons (though not as successfully as Jon Snow), it was just a little heartbreaking when, by the end of Game of Thrones, she had turned into a full-blown conqueror who was more than willing to kill if it meant victory.

Now, imagine how hard it was for Emilia Clarke, who has played Dany since day 1.

“I read these scripts coming on to two years ago now. When I did, I took a very long walk around London in a daze, not quite knowing how to digest the news….I hoped for some juicy things to get into, as I always do for each season, but I didn’t see this coming,” recalled the actress in an interview with The New Yorker released on the day of the season finale.

At the same time, Emilia admitted she’d always wondered how long Dany’s glory – of being a powerful liberator out to protect the oppressed – would last.

“I’ve been looking over my shoulder the entire time while everyone else gets a more human – for want of a better word – story line. They do good things. They do bad things,” she said.

There was a point, recalled Emilia, when the show’s writers and showrunners said Dany’s arc “is that of Lawrence of Arabia” – a tidbit Emilia liked until she remembered how the movie ended: “with Lawrence’s disintegration.”

“I didn’t quite put those two things together. Or maybe I didn’t want to see it coming because I care about Daenerys too much,” she said.

It was difficult for Emilia to come to terms with a character she’d grown up with. Game of Thrones, after all, started airing in 2011 – years before Emilia would become a household name.

“I really just had to sit there and wrestle with how I could make good on what they had written. Because that’s her. They are the writers. They have made this woman, and I’m going to take on what it is and try and interpret that to my best ability,” she said.

FOR THE THRONE. Dany dies in the final episode of the series – at the hands of her nephew and lover Jon Snow, no less. Photo courtesy of HBO

Game of Thrones is a hit HBO series based on the books by George R.R. Martin. It aired its final episode on May 20 (May 19 in the US), capping off nearly a decade of high TV ratings, critically-acclaimed episodes, and crazy fan theories online.

Emilia plays Dany, the last surviving daughter of the “Mad King,” who was deposed and murdered in the years preceding the events in the book and the TV series. While she started off as a liberator who killed the powerful to help the oppressed, her character took a darker turn in the final season. The penultimate episode saw her razing King’s Landing even after she had overwhelmed Cersei Lannister’s forces.

Read more about Emilia’s struggle and her explanation of Dany’s psychology on The New Yorker. –

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