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Emilia Clarke feared being fired from Game of Thrones after brain injury

Emilia Clarke has spoken to the Big Issue about her fears about getting back to work after two brain injuries, as her charity SameYou partners with Big Issue Recruit to help survivors and their loved ones get back to work. The full interview can be read in the Big Issue magazine, on sale now

emilia clarke

Emilia Clarke is now thriving after surviving brain injuries, and she is helping others too. Image: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Emilia Clarke has spoken exclusively to the Big Issue about the incredible strength it took to survive and recover after two brain injuries.

Clarke suffered two life-threatening brain haemorrhages while starring as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO series Game of Thrones.

She has been interviewed in this week’s Big Issue, out today (10 June), about the difficulties of returning to work after experiencing a brain injury.

“When you have a brain injury, because it alters your sense of self on such a dramatic level, all of the insecurities you have going into the workplace quadruple overnight,” Clarke told the Big Issue. “The first fear we all had was: ‘Oh my God, am I going to get fired? Am I going to get fired because they think I’m not capable of completing the job?’”

Clarke’s brain haemorrhages occurred between filming seasons, so only a handful of the team working on the show were told straight away, and she was back at work weeks after her first brain injury.

In front of thousands of people and cameras, she found herself fearing that she was dying of another brain haemorrhage because of the stress and pressure. She remembers thinking: “Well, if I’m going to die, I better die on live TV.”

Emilia Clarke and her mother founded their charity SameYou in 2019 to develop better mental health recovery for those who suffer brain injuries and advocate for change. The charity is now partnering with Big Issue Recruit to support survivors and their loved ones into work with the help of BIR specialist job coaches.

“Having a chronic condition that diminishes your confidence in this one thing you feel is your reason to live is so debilitating and so lonely,” Clarke, 37, recalls. “One of the biggest things I felt with a brain injury was profoundly alone. That is what we’re trying to overcome.”

In the interview, Clarke speaks candidly about how she felt she “couldn’t carry on” after a brain injury and how she asked medical staff to let her die, because she thought she would never act again. But she thrived since, and she knows others can too, saying: “It has given me a superpower.”

Read the full interview with Emilia Clarke in The Big Issue magazine on sale from today (June 10).

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