Emilia Clarke: “Daenerys becomes a bit of badass…”

Emilia Clarke talks Game of Thrones, auditioning for the role, and why she has to ignore the fans...

Emilia Clarke is one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood, but before her role on Game of Thrones the actress had barely appeared on TV. Propelled by her role as dragon-toting minx Daenerys Targaryen, the London-born actress has gone from a bit parts in daytime soaps to the A-list. Here, The Big Issue gets its geek on as Clarke reflects on cult fans, auditioning to become the Queen Across the Sea and her preferred hair colour…

Do blondes have more fun?

 From Daenerys’ point of view, she doesn’t have much fun at all but I definitely am now considering going blonde because I really like it. The beauty of the character is she’s got such a huge arc. She comes into her own, starts making her own decisions, becomes a bit of a badass. That’s the best way to describe it. She goes on this massive journey to womanhood.

The more I can get my teeth into a role, the more I enjoy it

At the start of the books Daenerys is only 13 but they made her a little older for TV.

In the books she’s 13 but we made her around about 16. The books are harking back to Medieval times, where children really weren’t the children we know today – they had to be adults quite quickly. While that’s okay in the books I think that would be a bit too shocking for the TV series.

Nothing is too shocking for Game of Thrones! Even though Dany’s the Mother of Dragons, can you relate to her?

I completely relate to her on many levels. When it comes to acting, for me, the more of a challenge and the more I can get my teeth into a role, the more I enjoy it. It’s a dream come true being able to play her.


The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

How did you get the part?

Really boring: I auditioned and I got it. I went to LA for a screen test, which was beyond petrifying, but for some bizarre reason they thought, let’s give this random girl nobody’s ever heard of a shot.

You’re now one of the most recognisable faces in the world.

It’s all happened quite fast. I started my career with a lovely little guest lead in Doctors…

Yes, I watched a clip on YouTube…

Oh you shouldn’t have done that.

You played a girl who had quite a strange relationship with her father. Is that right?

 Yeah, my dad stalked me. It gave me some camera experience, which gives you no end of confidence because you don’t get that much during drama school. Then I did this little thing for an American TV channel.

Yes, I watched that as well. The wonderfully titled Triassic Attack.

 Oh no…

I enjoyed it.

 I’m trying to hear sarcasm in your voice.

It’s very entertaining.

Again, an amazing experience, just learning on the job, which is the best way. Then I did an advert for the Samaritans and then I did Game of Thrones. So it was quite a leap.

Why did they hire so many British actors?

One of the HBO publicists said: “It’s because English people sound more intelligent”, which I don’t really think is true at all. Maybe because it harks back to a Medieval age. I genuinely couldn’t tell you, except England is older than America.

Do you pay much attention to what fans say about the show and your role?

 No, I choose not to. I know there is an enormous fanbase and when I started this, all I wanted was to do them proud and make sure they were happy. I tried to do that and I think me looking at the comments, good or bad, probably isn’t the best thing for my brain. So I’ve chosen to avoid looking at them. Hopefully they’re pleased. That’s all I can say. 

Game of Thrones is on Sky Atlantic