She may play Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen, the First of her Name and the Mother of All Dragons, but Emilia Clarke has a fiery personality all her own, too. This British actress has done everything from action to romance, on both television and film, and she’s poised to take over the world. Read on for 42 fiery facts about Emilia Clarke.
Clarke was born Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke (so British!) in London, England, but she later grew up in Berkshire. Her mother worked as a charity director while her father was a sound engineer.
Dear old dad was actually the reason Clarke got into acting: when she was three, she saw the musical Show Boat—the show her dad was working on—and wanted to be an actress from then on.
Clarke is known for her petite and curvy frame, and her nickname is “Milly.”
The Game of Thrones actress has admitted that if the whole acting thing didn’t work out, she would’ve wanted to be a singer, an architect, or possibly a graphic designer.
True to her alternative ambitions, Clarke is very good at singing alto and is a master at ballads, blues, and cabaret and jazz singing.
When Clarke played badass mom Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys in 2015, she was actually only the second of her Game of Thrones cast mates to do so. Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister, played Connor on the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Clarke attended drama school at Drama Centre London, which has housed some illustrious names, among them Paul Bettany, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan. If these alums are any indication, maybe Clarke also will grow up to be an extremely debonair man who knows how to wear a suit.
Clarke’s first role on television was on an episode of a British daytime soap opera called Doctors.
The Khaleesi’s success almost wasn’t mean to be: in the original pilot of Game of Thrones, Tamzin Merchant plays the Mother of all Dragons, but for unknown reasons, she left after shooting the one episode, opening the door for Clarke to take on the role.
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Clarke’s favorite film is the valley girl rom-com Clueless, and her most beloved TV show isn’t Game of Thrones, it’s Friends! Ah, the perfect sleepover fare.
Before landing her critically and commercially successful role on Game of Thrones, Clarke worked a lot of odd jobs, like bartending and waitressing. You know what they say, you go to L.A. to wait tables.
Clarke has also lost out on some roles: She auditioned for a role in Captain America: The Winter Solider in 2014 that went to Emily VanCamp, and was also looked at for the role of the Enchantress in Suicide Squad that eventually went to actress and model Cara Delevingne.
Most fans don’t recognize Emilia Clarke without her white-blonde Khaleesi wig. So while some Game of Thrones stars get recognized wherever they go, Clarke doesn’t often have that problem. However, when people do recognize her, Clarke says it’s often bizarre and humorous. As she related, “when I was in America, in L.A., a couple of weeks ago and I was in a lift [elevator] in a department store while shopping and the doors opened and this woman stood there, looked at me and just went, "Khaleesi!" and then the doors closed! So, that was mental and bizarre and rarely happens, but when it does it's normally on that kind of crazy scale.”
In 2015, Clarke got a small bumble bee tattoo on her pinky finger to commemorate her film Me Before You.
Clarke’s role as Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys was a great honor for her—she was super excited to be working with one of her idols, Arnold Schwarzenegger—but she wasn’t always so excited about Terminator as a franchise. When she was little, her brother had to force her to watch the first Terminator, but by the time she watched Terminator 2, the young Emilia was hooked.
Despite feeling very proud of her and admiring her work on Terminator Genisys, Schwarzenegger admitted that he thought Clarke was a little foolish to accept the iconic role of Sarah Connor at such a young age and so early on in her career.
Although the Khaleesi is strong as steel, she’s been through some tough times—and the same is true for Clarke. In 2013, she suffered an extremely life-threatening brain aneurysm immediately after she performed on Broadway in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She had to undergo a course of treatment in the hospital.
When she was a kid, Clarke’s favorite TV show was—like just about everyone else—The Simpsons. She has said that when her brother informed her that The Simpsons had done a Game of Thrones spoof, that’s when she knew the show had hit the big time.
Though she has said her parents are happy that she has found employment as an actor, they weren’t always exactly as supportive as a daughter could hope—or at least they didn’t mind making jokes at her expense. As Clarke has said, “When I told my dad I wanted to be an actress, he replied that there was only one line I needed to learn: ‘Do you want fries with that?’”
Some of her other favorite childhood shows were The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saved by the Bell, and Sister, Sister. Some great choices in there!
Like fellow actresses Kate Bosworth and Mila Kunis, Clarke’s eyes are heterochromatic—that is, they’re two different colors! More specifically, Clarke has central heterochromia: both of her irises are grey on the outer rim, but they are hazel on the inner rim.
Clarke loves to travel and have adventures, and she’s a committed backpacker, having travelled to South Africa, Vietnam, India, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia as a backpacker. It probably doesn’t beat riding a dragon, though.
Her grandmother on her mother’s side was born in colonial India in the Lucknow province, which gives Clarke one-eighth Indian ancestry.
Though Clarke empathizes deeply with Daenerys as a character, and loves playing her, she has also said she can feel a little left out—after all, Danny does spend much of the series completely separated from the other characters. As she said, “Sometimes, I feel like the kid left out—the weirdo with the silver hair that no one likes to talk to.”
It’s rumored that Clarke is one of the highest paid actors on television, and that she makes close to £2 million for each of her Game of Thrones episodes. I guess it pays to have a character who doesn’t get killed off.
Clarke has said that she finds it difficult to get out of character once Game of Thrones wraps. She has read the books several times, and thinks that it’s often less stressful to be on set because she can’t seem to shake Daenerys off in the real world.
For her audition for Daenerys, Clarke didn’t showcase her determined stare or her fiery outrage. Nope, she did the funky chicken and the robot dance at her audition. It must have worked, and producers fell in love with her.
Although Clarke has lost out on her share of roles, she’s also turned down some as well—she was offered the part of Anastasia Steele in the film adaptation of E.L. James’ runaway hit book series Fifty Shades of Grey, but she said no because of the nudity required of the part. And yes, Clarke has definitely bared it all in Game of Thrones, but as she said, “There is a huge amount of nudity in the film. I'll never say 'I'm never doing nudity' because I've already done it, but I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of."
She only had one full day to prepare for her audition as Daenerys Targaryen, and had to cancel on a catering shift to make the try out.
Though her full, thick, arched eyebrows are now pretty much the envy of makeup bloggers everywhere, Clarke actually used to be bullied for her luscious brows. But her mother knew best, and her rules when Clarke was growing up were “Don’t do drugs, don’t have sex, and don’t touch your eyebrows.”
The name “Khaleesi” has rocketed up in popularity since Clarke portrayed the Daenerys on Game of Thrones: In 2011, the name was number 4,979 in popularity for girls’ names according to Baby Center, but is currently all the way up at number 324 in popularity in 2018. Talk about a comeback!
Everyone, it seems, has Khaleesi fever: A new species of sea slug was also named after the Dragon-wielding Daenerys. Researchers called the slug Tritonia khaleesi.
Clarke is usually pretty hush-hush about her personal life, but she has dated Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, in the past. The pair dated from 2012 to 2013, and Clarke has said fans used to give her unsolicited—and unwanted—advice about her relationship with the funny man.
She’s an animal lover and owns a dog named Roxy.
In addition to speaking English, Clarke can speak French and German. Oh, and, obviously, Dothraki.
The gory, gut-wrenching scene where Daenerys has to eat a horse’s heart is up there with the Red Wedding in the Game of Thrones gross moments hall of fame—but fear not. Behind the gore, there’s actually a sweet treat: the fake heart was made out of gummy bears. So…it tasted delicious?
Even though Daenerys’ silver-platinum wig (or rather, lack thereof) has helped the star go incognito in the real world, Clarke says she would love to take the locks for a spin some night—but the crew won’t let her! As she told GQ, ‘’I keep asking to go out with the wig at night, but they insist there’s no way.” As she continued, “They won’t let me go partying with it on! I would be killed on the spot.” How dare these people deprive Clarke—and us—of a disco Daenerys.
Clarke can do soft and romantic too: in 2016, she was cast in the romantic drama Me Before You opposite The Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin. The flick won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liplock.
The readers of AskMen voted Clarke “The Most Desirable Woman in the World” in 2014. She was also named Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” in 2015.
Clarke’s got some great things on the horizon: she was cast in as the female lead in Solo: A Star Wars Story, as a character named Qi’ra, a role in which she’ll surely use the action chops she picked up on the Terminator Genisys set.
Clarke is also slated to star in the English adaptation of the Korean romantic smash hit, The Beauty Inside, which is due to come out in 2018.
That infamous, incestuous sex scene with Jon and Dany was difficult to watch, but it was even more awkward to film, as both the actors just recently admitted that the scene was made extra embarrassing because Clarke and Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, had been only filming scenes together for a short time before they had to act out the steamy rendezvous. As Clarke said, "Both of us were going, 'Ahhh what are you doing on my set!? This is weird!'"
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