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Tamzin Merchant (born 4 March 1987, in Sussex, England), is an English actress. She's perhaps best known for portraying Katherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, in The Tudors. Her other notable roles include Georgiana Darcy in Pride & Prejudice (2005), Anne Hale in Salem and Imogen Spurnrose in Carnival Row. She portrayed Daenerys Targaryen in the original pilot for Game of Thrones, though she was replaced by Emilia Clarke for the series proper. Besides acting, she's also written and published poetry, and has written a fantasy novel, The Hatmakers, published in February 2021.

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Filmography includes:

Tropes associated with the creator and her works:

  • Dawson Casting:
    • Notably averted with her role as Georgiana Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; Georgiana has recently turned 16 years old while Merchant herself was 17 during filming. Georgiana was one of Merchant's first roles.
    • Katherine Howard is believed to have mostly likely been born in 1523, making her around 17 when she married Henry VIII in 1540 and 19 when she was executed in 1542. Merchant was around 21 when she first played Katherine (before her marriage to Henry), though this is understandable given the sexual nature of the role; Merchant was also able to pass for a teenager well. It's also worth noting some sources place Katherine's birth year slightly earlier, which would make Merchant almost exactly the right age.
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    • She was 22 when she played Daenerys in the Game of Thrones pilot, who is 16-turning-17 at the beginning of the show; once again this is understandable given some of the stuff Daenerys goes through; she was already aged up from 13-turning-14 as she was in the books.
    • Imogen Spurnrose is 22 in Carnival Row's first season, while Merchant was in fact 30 and turned 31 during the filming of Season 1.
  • Ms. Fanservice: One of her most famous roles is as Katherine "rose without a thorn" Howard, who gets several scenes involving nudity and sex in The Tudors.
  • The Other Marty: She portrayed the Mother of Dragons in the Game of Thrones pilot in 2009; when the first episode was reshot, Emilia Clarke played Daenerys instead and went on to play her for the rest of the series. It's not entirely clear why Merchant left the role - most people who worked on the pilot have stated her performance was good - though it's been suggested the creators felt that Clarke was a better fit as Dany and had more onscreen chemistry with Jason Momoa (who portrayed Khal Drogo). In a 2021 interview with EW, Merchant admitted she felt the role wasn't right for her and that she was initially talked out of turning it down, so she doesn't regret the casting change and saw it as a learning experience.
    "Shooting that pilot was a really great lesson. It was an affirmation about listening to my instincts and following them, because I tried to back out of that situation and, during the contract process, I did back out. I was talked back into it by some persuasive people. Then I found myself naked and afraid in Morocco and riding a horse that was clearly much more excited to be there than I was."
  • Romance on the Set: She dated Freddie Fox for a time after meeting him on the set of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
  • She Also Did: Merchant is primarily known for her acting, though she's also a published poet and has written a children's fantasy novel.
  • Typecasting: She has a tendency to play characters who are either The Ingenue or Spoiled Sweet (or a bit of both).
  • What Could Have Been: She was the original casting choice for Daenerys Targaryen, and played her in the unaired Game of Thrones pilot. After the pilot was poorly received and the whole show was reworked, the role was recast with Emilia Clarke.

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