Its been three months since the end of Game of Thrones and regardless of which side of the aisle you stand on Daenerys Targaryean is one of the greatest fictional female characters there ever was or will be.
But, what is even more inspirational than the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, and the remaining of her several titles is the true strength and grit it took for Emilia Clarke to play her. At 24 years old Emilia Clarke received the role of life time but she didn’t know the physical journey and limits in which she would go to play it.
In an in-depth interview with The New Yorker Emilia opened up for the first time about her two near fatal brain aneurysms she suffered during the Game of Thrones run. But, a common misconception to be dispelled, these aneurysms didn’t happen towards the end of the record breaking TV show – but the very beginning.
After landing the role of Daenerys, in which before Emilia worked as a waitress and at a call center, (if that doesn’t inspire your dreams I don’t know what will), she went to a personal trainer to get fit for her upcoming scenes. While she knew she had to push through strenuous exercise her head was literally screaming for her to stop. Not even able to walk, Emilia had to crawl to the locker room, where thanks to another gym goer she was laid on her side while the ambulance was en route.
When she arrived at the hospital they diagnosed her with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (essentially bleeding into the space surrounding the brain) and an almost immediate death sentence. Thank God for Emilia Clarke it was not, however, she didn’t have much time as the doctors rushed her into her first surgery. A surgery that left with her debilitating pain, and with no remembrance of her first name. Its called aphasia, and it left Emilia Clarke with no recollection or memory, and (sadly) she felt she had no reason to live. “I’m an actor, I need to remember my lines.”
Again, Emilia was blessed to live through this crisis as she healed through her first surgery, and in a matter of weeks she was scheduled to be on set for Game of Thrones Season 2. However, Emilia was not released without warning of a second aneurysm that reared its ugly head in her brain – one that could pop at any moment. While it was dormant for the time being Emilia still spoke of feeling weak, deeply insecure, and as if death was knocking on her door everyday. She even spoke of a time where she had a MTV interview and thought her last breath would be on live television (talk about terrifying).
Suffice to say that small aneurysm had grew to twice the size in her brain and Emilia was back in surgery except this time they had to open her skull and she awoke in the midst of it in shrieking agony. After she emerged from her surgery, she had scars (physical and literal), a drain out of her head, and spoke of feeling like all hope had left her for good. Her life was over in those dark days and painful recovery in the hospital.
It was there that Emilia began to understand who Daenerys Targaryen was at her core. That past Khalessi of the Green Sea, the Unburnt, and Freer of Slaves, the Mother of Dragons was a survivor – right up until the very end. It it with this spirit, and Emilia’s support from those close to her that she built the resilience and endurance she needed to walk out that hospital ALIVE and well.
Now that Game of Thrones has come to an end Emilia speaks of simply being grateful to see the end of it. She played Daenerys for the rest of her years with the mindset of a woman who had stood the ultimate test, and came through on other end of it. Sure, Emilia has scars as Dany did, but both of these women have been through hell and back, and with that in mind it’s hard to look at Daenerys Targaryen the same way again. Think you can handle landing a dream gig and then facing death’s door soon after?
And what is a bright light like Emilia Clarke to do after she plays such a harrowing, and gritty character through and through – star in a Christmas movie!
Check out the trailer below to see how Daenarys (cough cough) I mean Emilia is up to now that Winter is Here.
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Hi! Asia Minor here - I enjoy anything history, fantasy, and sci fi...its even better when its all combined. I am working on acquiring beautiful huskies for my pets, constantly watching movies (and plan on making them), and reading/writing. My musical choices limit to Disney, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Lamar - enough said.