Meet the glam­orous, badass, pro­fes­sional dragon-train­ing queen Emilia Clarke


GAME OF THRONES HAS BEEN CHAT­TING BREEZILY OVER THE PHONE FROM HER HOME­TOWN OF LON­DON, BUT NOW SHE CHOOSES HER WORDS CARE­FULLY. EMILIA CLARKE PAUSE S. “THAT ’S A RE ALLY HARD QUE STION,” SHE SAYS, GATH­ER­ING HER THOUGHTS. The sub­ject: what character she most iden­ti­fies with from ‘90s sit­com Friends. “I love Rachel,” she says. “We all want to be Rachel. But there’s some­thing about Mon­ica that is so re­as­sur­ingly neu­rotic.” The true iden­tity of her Friends spirit an­i­mal has been a sub­ject of much de­bate with her best friend, Lola Frears, the daugh­ter of Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins’ di­rec­tor Stephen Frears. “I feel like we both want to be Rachel but are both a bit Mon­ica,” Clarke ad­mits.

As proudly ed­u­cated as Clarke is in the pre­pos­ter­ously de­tailed world of Wes­teros built by Ge­orge R. R. Martin in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” nov­els and re­fined by David Be­nioff and D.B. Weiss on the HBO phe­nom­e­non, re­turn­ing July 16, Clarke is at least as big of a tele­vi­sion nerd for the mil­len­nial must-see TV sta­ple Friends. She outed her­self as a Friends su­per­fan on Gra­ham Nor­ton’s U.K. talk show last year, where she ap­peared along­side Matt LeBlanc. “I have one slight re­quest for you,” she said to him as the cam­eras rolled. “Would you be able to ask me how I’m do­ing?” As LeBlanc mouthed Joey Trib­biani’s sig­na­ture “How you doin’?”, she broke into ner­vous gig­gles.

Yes, Clarke knows what it’s like to be that kind of a fan, which is prob­a­bly a very good thing con­sid­er­ing her fil­mog­ra­phy, which in­cludes such ob­sessed-over roles as Sarah Con­nor in 2015’s Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys, an asyet-un­named character in 2018’s Han Solo pre­quel, and, most fa­mously, Khaleesi her­self on Game of Thrones.

The 30-year-old grew up in Berkshire out­side of Lon­don, her fa­ther a sound en­gi­neer for the theatre and her mother a vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing. She won her role in Game of Thrones in 2010 af­ter the pi­lot had al­ready been shot with

Bri­tish ac­tress Tamzin Mer­chant play­ing Daen­erys. (In an in­aus­pi­cious de­but, the pi­lot episode would be 90% reshot). Her brief ré­sumé at that point included a guest-role on Bri­tish soap Doc­tors and the di­rect-to-DVD Jurassic Park rip-off

Tri­as­sic At­tack, which no one has seen, in­clud­ing, ac­cord­ing to last re­port, Clarke her­self.

She’s among the cho­sen few to have glimpsed the fu­ture of Wes­teros, hav­ing wrapped Thrones’ penul­ti­mate sea­son in Jan­uary, yet she’s as will­ing as the next fan to spec­u­late over how Daen­erys will weigh her own heart’s pas­sion against the rigid call of royal duty. “I think that she has ul­ti­mately put aside her own need for a man,” she says. “She is so en­gaged and wrapped up in lead­ing and be­ing the queen and rul­ing and ful­fill­ing her birth right that the idea of some­one com­ing in and shar­ing that ti­tle is prob­a­bly some­thing she’s not com­fort­able with.”

Up un­til now, the ex­iled royal’s sto­ry­line has played out a con­ti­nent away from her co-stars. When the ac­tors are united for an awards show or press jun­ket, she says the dis­parate cast mem­bers swap sto­ries from their re­spec­tive shoots, which are flung among such lo­ca­tions as Canada, Spain, Ireland, Ice­land, Croa­tia, Morocco, and Malta. Things get com­pet­i­tive. She’ll brag, “What we’re do­ing is re­ally fun.” Some­one else will counter with, “What we’re do­ing is even bet­ter!” “We’re win­ning,” Clarke says. “In the fun stakes.”

Sea­son seven sees a se­ri­ous shakeup to Daen­erys’ ex­tended wan­der­ings in the wilder­ness. The sea­son six fi­nale saw the Mother of Dragons lead­ing a fleet of ships, ac­com­pa­nied by her dragon hon­our guard, to Wes­teros at last. Shoot­ing with her fel­low cast mem­bers, some of whom she’s known since sea­son one yet has never filmed with, has pre­sented its own chal­lenges. “There was a lot of laugh­ing,” she ad­mits. “There was a lot of, ‘I can’t take you se­ri­ously.’”

It’s not hard to imag­ine Daen­erys’ stone face crum­bling op­po­site the brood­ing Jon Snow, espe­cially as played by her long­time friend Kit Har­ing­ton. The Internet is teem­ing with fan fic­tion with ti­tles such as “Win­ter’s Bride” that imag­ines the char­ac­ters’ wed­ding. No less a Game of Thrones fan than Mar­garet At­wood her­self has said, “We will be very dis­ap­pointed if Mother of Dragons does not marry Jon Snow.”

Dolce & Gab­bana played off that chem­istry in their up­com­ing cam­paign for their fra­grance The One—Clarke was named the face of the women’s fra­grance while Har­ing­ton was named the face of the men’s in cam­paigns that de­but this Septem­ber. Clarke filmed the com­mer­cial in Naples last March, where she fell in love with Italy’s style per­son­al­ity. “There’s a con­fi­dence an Ital­ian woman has that, as an English woman, I don’t see in my day-to-day life,” she says. “And I like it. It feels em­pow­er­ing.” Clarke’s own closet is stocked with such con­fi­dence-boost­ing pieces as a pair of snake­skin plat­form Marc Ja­cobs boots. “I put th­ese shoes on and I was like: th­ese are not my fuck-me boots, th­ese are my fuck-you boots,” she says.

Work­ing six-day weeks film­ing a Star Wars movie doesn’t leave her much room for per­sonal style. “Within an hour I am in my costume,” she says. “But I re­ally en­joy be­ing able to put my per­son­al­ity on in the morn­ing. To be able to express my­self in what I’m wear­ing and walk into my job and go: this is Emilia. And then you can take it off and put the character on. When you’re done at the end of the day you put your­self back on and go home. Fash­ion and style for me is look­ing at your re­flec­tion and you are see­ing you.”

She says the trans­for­ma­tive power of fash­ion has of­ten helped her chan­nel a character, espe­cially while wear­ing the Ra­pun­zel-es­que hair of Daen­erys. De­spite play­ing the fiercely right­eous ruler for seven sea­sons, bleach­ing her nat­u­ral brunette hair was never a con­sid­er­a­tion. “My hair could never ever get to what Daen­erys’s hair is,” she says. “If you saw the wig, you could lit­er­ally curl up with that thing. There is not a hu­man be­ing on the planet Earth who has that much hair. She has more hair on her head than Chew­bacca.”

The wig is so trans­for­ma­tive that she can of­ten fly un­der the radar in pub­lic. (When she at­tended her first Screen Ac­tors Guild awards in 2012, she smiled brightly, un­flap­pable as a wall of pho­tog­ra­phers shouted, “Who are you?”). And yet Clarke says she has found seren­ity in the eye of the red-car­pet storm. “A lot of the time I feel more com­fort­able in front of a lot of peo­ple than I do in front of six,” she says. “So the red-car­pet stuff, I just get su­per zen. I de­cided to wear this dress, this is what my hair looks like, this is what my makeup looks like, this is who I am, this is what I’m do­ing, so, here we go! I’m just go­ing to be su­per cool in how I feel. Be­cause if I don’t I might cry.”

While Clarke her­self might tod­dle be­tween the girl-next-door glam­our of a Rachel Green and the high-strung neu­ro­sis of a Mon­ica, there’s no mis­tak­ing this stub­born com­mit­ment to con­fi­dence as a trait she shares with a cer­tain Targaryen. When asked what res­onates with her about the way in which Daen­erys wields her power, she says, “The mar­riage be­tween her fem­i­nine sen­si­tiv­ity and her gen­uine de­sire to help those less ca­pa­ble of help­ing them­selves. She’s fight­ing for peo­ple that don’t have rights. She’s got ad­vice from ev­ery­body, and she just lis­tens quietly, makes her own mind up, and is com­fort­able to stand next to the de­ci­sion that she made. That kind of abil­ity to not apol­o­gize.” Spo­ken like a true queen.

The mar­riage be­tween her fem­i­nine sen­si­tiv­ity and her gen­uine de­sire to help those less ca­pa­ble of help­ing them­selves. She’s fight­ing for peo­ple that don’t have rights.


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