Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke (born 23 October 1986) is an English actress.
Clarke was born in London and grew up in Berkshire with her parents and younger brother. Her father is a theatre sound engineer, and her mother a businesswoman. Clarke's interest in acting began at the age of three after seeing the musical Show Boat, on which her father was working at the time. She was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford from 2000 to 2005 and at Rye St Antony School. She then studied at Drama Centre London, graduating in 2009.
Clarke's early work includes two plays at St. Edwards, ten plays at Drama Centre London, the 2009 Company of Angels production of Sense, and a 2009 commercial for the Samaritans. Her first television roles were Saskia Mayer in a 2009 episode of Doctors and Savannah in Syfy's 2010 film Triassic Attack. Screen International magazine named her as one of the "UK Stars of Tomorrow".
In 2010, Clarke was cast as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thrones, which is based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. She was cast after fellow British actress Tamzin Merchant was replaced for undisclosed reasons. The show debuted in April 2011 to universally positive reviews and was quickly picked up by the network for a second season. Clarke won the 2011 EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her role as Daenerys. In 2013, she was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. She was also voted the most desirable woman in the world by Askmen readers in 2014.
In 2012, Clarke appeared in Spike Island, a film named after the location of The Stone Roses' seminal 1990 gig. From March to April 2013, Clarke played Holly Golightly in a Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany's. In May, it was announced that she had joined the feature film Garden of Last Days. In July 2015, Clarke played Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys — speaking of which, she is not related to Jason Clarke. In 2016, she appeared in the romantic drama Me Before You, in 2017, she starred in the psychological thriller Voice from the Stone, and in 2018 she starred in Solo as Han's First Love, Qi'ra.
She also co-wrote the comic M.O.M: Mother of Madness, of which the first issue was released in July 2021.
Her notable roles include:
- Doctors (2009) as Saskia Meyer
- Game of Thrones (2011-17, 2019) as Daenerys Targaryen
- Telltale's Game of Thrones (2014, voice)
- Futurama (2013) as Marianne (voice)
- Terminator Genisys (2015) as Sarah Connor
- Robot Chicken (2016) as Bridget (voice)
- Me Before You (2016) as Louisa Clark
- Animals (2017) as Lumpy (voice)
- Voice from the Stone (2017) as Verena
- Thunderbirds Are Go (2017) as Doyle (voice)
- Solo (2018) as Qi'ra
- Last Christmas (2019) as Katarina "Kate" Andrich
- Above Suspicion (2019) as Susan Smith
- Marvel Cinematic Universe as TBA
- Secret Invasion (2022)
Tropes Relating to Her Career:
- Action Girl: A few of her most prominent roles are these, including Qi'ra, Sarah Conner and Daenerys (in Dany's case she commands armies but doesn't do much fighting personally, though she does master dragon riding in the show's latter half and gets to kill some wights in the final season).
- The Cast Showoff: David Benioff attributes Emilia with often being "too fucking funny!" off set. Shame Dany's comedic scenes in GOT are few to none. But Coldplay made sure to employ Clarke's comedic chops by having her sing a reggae song about Daenerys.
- Creator Backlash:
- She is not fond of Terminator Genisys, bluntly stating in an interview that she refuses to reprise the role of Sarah Connor due to hating the experience so much. Even before filming started, she thought she was naive to accept the role of Sarah so early in her career. She also stated that "no one had a good time" during filming and compared it to the notoriously Troubled Production of Fantastic Four (2015).
- Although she doesn't dislike her role in Game of Thrones overall (she even got a tattoo of three dragons on her wrist to commemorate playing Daenerys), she has expressed reservations about some aspects of it.
- She admitted feeling uncomfortable about the numerous nude scenes in Season 1 and found scenes involving her character being sexually assaulted distressing, even going off to cry in the toilets between takes. She later negotiated to have less nude scenes in subsequent seasons and stated that in hindsight she would've handled it differently. She later stated in 2019 that she was tired of interviewers constantly talking about the nudity as if there was nothing more to the role (especially as the amount of nudity tends to be overblown with Daenerys following Season 1).
- She's hinted in interviews she didn't agree with everything that happened in Daenerys' story arc in the final season where Daenerys infamously goes Ax-Crazy and burns down King's Landing. She thought Jon Snow should've experienced more consequences for assassinating Dany and also believed that the show "could've been spun out for a little longer".
- She was also critical of the relentless pace of the filming and publicity tours, which exacerbated her worsening health at the time due to brain aneurysms.
- Dawson Casting: Her babyface and stature (5'2") have put this trope into effect for many of her best-known roles.
- Daenerys from Game of Thrones already received an Age Lift from 13 in the books to 17, but Clarke herself was 23 when filming began.
- In Me Before You, where she would've been pushing 30, she plays 26-year-old Louisa.
- Three years later in Last Christmas, she's still playing a character younger than 27 and, possibly, even younger than Louisa, although it isn't specified.
- Solo provides one of the most extreme examples; Qi'ra is only 18 at the start, then 21 after the Time Skip, yet Clarke was nearly 31 during filming.
- Dyeing for Your Art:
- She's a brunette and had to wear a huge blonde wig under the scorching Morocco sun for her most famous role. She actually bleached her hair platinum blonde for the final season of Game of Thrones, though she later stated she regretted doing this, as the dye did a real number on her hair; she had to cut it extremely short and grow it out again to repair the damage.
- She also attempted to wear purple contact lenses to more closely match Daenerys' book appearance (the Targaryens are famed for having silver-blonde hair and purple eyes). However, it's said the lenses irritated her eyes so much it affected her performance (along with Harry Lloyd who played Viserys Targaryen), so they opted not to use them.
- Fake American: As Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys and as Susan Smith in Above Suspicion. She can also do a good Valley Girl voice on command.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: Often her most striking feature in photographs. Her "eyebrow acting" reaches near-Emma Watson levels.
- Funny Character, Boring Actor: Inverted. Daenerys is a very serious, humourless queen. Emilia is known for being very funny and goofy out of character. Me Before You is closer to her real personality.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Her on-screen love interests tend to tower over her, as most of them tend to stand 6 feet and above while she's only 5'2. Examples are Jason Momoa (6'4) and Michiel Huisman (6') in Game of Thrones, and Jai Courtney (6'1) in Terminator Genisys. Her Me Before You co-star Sam Clafin also came close at 5'11 (although it's slightly offset by the fact he's in a wheelchair a lot of the time).
- Image Source: For the following tropes, mostly as Daenerys.
- Ms. Fanservice: Her various nude scenes on Game of Thrones, plus a brief fanservice-y scene in Terminator Genisys and her revealing Little Black Dress in Solo.
- Playing Against Type: As a dorky Cute Clumsy Girl in Me Before You. She typically plays more composed and elegant Lady of War-type characters.
- Star-Making Role: As Daenerys Targaryen, of course. Before landing the role she was pretty much unknown as a film school grad with only a few roles under her belt. The role catapulted her to becoming one of the most recognizable faces in television.
- What Could Have Been:
- She auditioned to play Sharon Carter in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but the role went to Emily VanCamp. She would eventually be cast in an unknown role for the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Secret Invasion.
- She was heavily considered for June Moone/The Enchantress in Suicide Squad, but Cara Delevingne got it instead.
- She was offered the role of Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey, but although she stated she liked Sam Taylor-Johnson's vision for the film, she turned it down because she didn't want to be "pigeonholed" as an actress only known for nudity and sex scenes (which would be pretty hard to avoid for Fifty Shades considering the subject matter).
- She expressed interest in reprising her role as Qi'ra in Star Wars and signed up for potential sequels; unfortunately the box office failure of Solo makes it unlikely there'll be a theatrical sequel anytime soon.