Born on May 1, 1987, in London, England, Emmy nominated actress Emilia Clarke, thanks to the critically acclaimed and immensely popular HBO series “Game of Thrones,” is known these days by many names. The HBO series is based on author George R.R. Martin’s best selling series of books, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Clarke’s character is referred to as, amongst other names and titles, Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi, The Mother of Dragons and Mhysa. Clarke, who grew up in Berkshire, almost wasn’t known by any of those names. In fact, she almost wasn’t even a cast member on the show, never mind a starring one. According to BAFTA and Emmy nominated show runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, actress Tazmin Merchant, (Jane Eyre) was originally cast in the role. She even filmed the pilot episode before being replaced by Clarke.
Emilia’s interest in acting began when she was a small child. Her father, a theater sound engineer, was working on a production of the musical “Show Boat,” which her mother took her to see, and from that moment forward, Emilia knew acting was the life she wanted. After completing her education at St. Edward’s School, where she first appeared in two plays, and the Rye St. Antony School, both in Oxford, Clarke studied acting at the Drama Centre London. While there, not only did she act in ten plays, but also appeared for the first time on television in the role of Saskia Mayer, in the 2009 episode “Empty Nest,” on the BBC show “Doctors.” Work as an actress didn’t exactly take off upon her graduating from the Drama Centre. She paid her dues as a waitress, and tended bar, as she waited for her big break in entertainment to present itself. According to Clarke, while she was working at her day job, she received a phone call from her agent regarding the role on “Game of Thrones.” In order not to be fired for taking a personal call, she had to excuse herself, go to the ladies room, stand up on the toilet, and whisper. Several weeks later, she flew to Los Angeles, California to meet with HBO executives and audition for the part.
The character first introduced to fans during season one is an innocent, timid young girl, fraught with low self-esteem, who cowers whenever her brother, Viserys, (Harry Lloyd) yells at her. She is given in marriage, against her will, by Viserys to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). He is the fearsome leader of a tribe of horse warriors known as the Dothraki. Viserys, along with Daenerys, are the last of the Targaryens. The reason for Viserys using his sister as a bartering tool is so he can cross the Narrow Sea, with the Dothraki as his army, to reach the continent of Westeros, which houses the Seven Kingdoms. It is a journey he must make in order to reclaim both the crown and the Iron Throne from the current king, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). (As an aside, before season one even concludes, Robert will be replaced by Joffrey, (Jack Gleeson), who he thinks is his son and heir, but in actuality isn’t. Joffrey is the product of incest between Robert’s wife, Cersei Lannister, (Lena Headey) and her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).)
As the first season progresses, however, after marrying Khal Drogo, slowly Daenerys begins to understand the power she has in her role as, not only the Khaleesi, (the wife of the Khal) but the woman who is pregnant with Drogo’s child. She starts to fight back against her brother’s abuse. After one episode where he slaps her, she asserts her authority and lets Viserys know, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever hits her again, he will no longer have hands to hit her with. Afterwards, as subsequent seasons progress, she transforms herself fully into a formidably strong-willed woman, who is serious about doing what needs to be done in order to reclaim the throne that was taken from her family. The fact that she is the mother of three dragons that keep getting bigger in size every time they appear on screen, as well as the commander of an army that consists of 10,000 strong, including free slaves, who worship her as their ivory-haired queen, doesn’t hurt in that endeavor.
When asked what she would be doing if she hadn’t become an actress, Clarke usually responds that she might have tried her hand at music. She loves to sing, and can also play the flute, guitar, and piano. Clarke has also expressed interest over the years in both architecture and graphic design. In March 2013, she starred in the Broadway production of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” based on Truman Capote’s novel, as the character of Holly Golightly; a role first made famous by Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe winner, Audrey Hepburn. Recently it was announced by Paramount that Clarke has been cast in director Alan Taylor’s (Thor: The Dark World) Terminator reboot titled “Terminator: Genesis,” in the role of Sarah Connor. For those who might not know, Clarke’s character is the mother of John Connor, who will grow up to lead a resistance movement against a corporation known as Skynet which lets loose upon the world a virtually indestructible army of machines that wish to eradicate all elements of human life from the earth. The film is scheduled to open on July 1, 2015. Previous actresses who have brought the role of Sarah Connor to life include Linda Hamilton, and Clarke’s fellow “Game of Thrones” cast member Lena Headey who portrayed Connor in the Fox television series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
In addition, Clarke has voiced an episode of the animated show “Futurama” and Co-starred with BAFTA award winning actor Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) in the film “Dom Hemingway.” Clarke’s character portrays the daughter of Jude Law, who comes calling on her after he has served a dozen years in prison. Prior to that role, Clarke appeared in the 2010 television movie “Triassic Attack” and in the 2012 feature film “Spike Island” There seems to be no slowing down for the young twenty-six year old, who was recently voted the number one most desired woman out of 99 by Ask Men. Com
Emilia Clarke’s best friend in real life is Rose Leslie, who plays Ygritte on “Game of Thrones.” The two, however, hardly get to see one another while filming. Clarke’s scenes are usually shot in different locations than most of the rest of the cast. Clarke also has stated that one of her favorite shows is the HBO series “Girls,” and that she would love to appear in an episode, even if only for a moment. The creator and one of the stars of the series, Lena Dunham, seems like a cool person; hopefully she will get wind of Clarke’s desire to be on the show, and give “The Mother of Dragons” a line or two. Regardless if that happens or not, if Clarke continues on her current trajectory, she should be a talent that stays around to entertain the television and movie going public for years to come.