Emilia Clarke

As the mighty mother of drag­ons, EMILIA CLARKE was cat­a­pulted from drama grad to Game of Thrones’ hottest hero overnight. Her next move – as Arnie’s side­kick in this year’s re­boot of Ter­mi­na­tor – is equally mon­u­men­tal. Not that she’s fazed…

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - Words JANE MULK­ER­RINS/ Marie Claire/ Time Inc UK Pho­to­graphs DAVID ROEMER/ Marie Claire/ Time Inc UK

OVER SMOOTH­IES IN a West Hol­ly­wood ho­tel, Emilia Clarke is re­count­ing the many times she’s been asked to take a photo of her co-star Kit Har­ring­ton with a Game of Thrones fan who has failed to recog­nise her. ‘I’ll be in the loo and hear these girls say­ing, “I don’t know who she is, but that’s Jon Snow,”’ she laughs. ‘You can’t go any­where with Kit with­out him be­ing mobbed.’

Daen­erys Tar­garyen (Mother of Drag­ons or Khaleesi, as she is also known) in the smash-hit se­ries, is de­lighted by how in­fre­quently she is spot­ted in real life. And it’s all thanks to the trans­for­ma­tion made by a long, plat­inum wig that’s so iconic, hair­styl­ists in the fash­ion in­dus­try have dubbed the shade ‘Khaleesi blonde’. She says it is ‘kind of funny and awk­ward’ in her lo­cal newsagents in Hamp­stead, north Lon­don. ‘It’s like, oh, that’s my face on a mag­a­zine… OK, morn­ing, could I just have the milk, please?’ she gig­gles. ‘Some­times they will say, “Oh, hello, dragon lady.”’

For bet­ter or per­haps worse, Emilia is un­likely to re­main un­no­ticed in pub­lic for much longer. Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys (cur­rently on-screen), is a pre­quel to the 90s ac­tion fran­chise, with Arnie him­self back in the ti­tle role. Emilia plays Sarah Con­nor, the le­gendary char­ac­ter played

Game of Thrones launched, when few could but en­tirely new to the game, less than two years out of drama school, so I am in­trigued to see how such a steep tra­jec­tory has af­fected her. She ar­rives like a tiny, brunette whirl­wind, atop a pair of sil­ver Prada wedges, and grips me in an en­thu­si­as­tic hug, talk­ing nine­teen to the dozen. The only dif­fer­ence fan­tas­tic com­pany.

‘You just can’t fuck it up,’ she says, al­lud­ing to the pres­sure that ac­com­pa­nies a role like Sarah Con­nor. ‘There are a mil­lion bil­lion fan-boys who will pull my head off if I do.

Por­tray­ing two such fan­tas­ti­cally strong women as Daen­erys and Sarah is, sadly, highly un­usual for an ac­tor of her age and ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘It’s funny to me to talk about strong, in­de­pen­dent women be­cause I have a re­ally badass mom, so I’ve grown up think­ing that women weren’t any­thing other than ab­so­lutely equal to men,’ she says. ‘And thanks to Game of Thrones, my ca­reer so far has been all about play­ing strong women. Drama school was re­ally the only time when I ever felt like, “Erm, can I get a good part, please?”’

Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys of New Or­leans, where ‘English roses wilt in the heat,’ Emilia says. She did, how­ever, en­joy the phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tions for the role, lift­ing weights for hours ev­ery day, and not merely for aes­thetic

rea­sons. ‘ Those fuck­ing guns are su­per-heavy,’ she says. ‘I needed to keep up with and be bet­ter than the boys,’ she says. ‘I needed to know what to do to have Arnold go: [adopt­ing the Arnie ac­cent] “Very nice.” That was my goal.’ Such things, she says, don’t come nat­u­rally to her, even drag­ons. ‘I am in­cred­i­bly un­prac­ti­cal; my bag is a bin,’ she says. ‘I’ll get lost go­ing to the loo; I wear heels to Hamp­stead Heath park; mas­cara to the gym – I am that per­son. Be­com­ing Sarah Con­nor, I wanted to use the right side of my brain and throw the sat­nav away. I was try­ing to get to the kind of grit that Sarah re­ally has, and that I lack.’

No, ‘gritty’ isn’t a word you would use to de­scribe Emilia. Bub­bly and charm­ing, she is also in­cred­i­bly pretty, pe­tite and slim in her blue Levi’s and yel­low Balenciaga vest top. Her body has, of course, been much scru­ti­nised as a re­sult of her on-screen nudity early on in Game of Thrones. I googled my­self,’ she says. ‘You just do, it’s in­stinct. But never again.’ It is the neg­a­tive com­ments that stick. ‘It just takes that one per­son who says, “She’s a fat bitch,” and you’re like, “I’m a fat bitch!”’ she mock-wails.

That level of early ex­po­sure also led her to turn down the lead role of Anas­ta­sia Steele in this year’s adap­ta­tion of Fifty Shades of Grey. ‘I re­ally wanted to work with di­rec­tor Sam Tay­lor-John­son, be­cause she’s fuck­ing amaz­ing,’ she says. ‘But there is a huge 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.’ It’s a se­ri­ous point, but one that doesn’t stop us both col­laps­ing into hys­ter­ics as she imag­ines her­self ‘ naked, in a pi­geon­hole, with an S&M toy. Help!’

Her noble, re­strained per­for­mance as Daen­erys earned her an Emmy nom­i­na­tion in ‘That felt like it came out of nowhere,’ she says. She couldn’t give ‘two shits’ about win­ning ac­tual awards, but says, re­fresh­ingly, ‘I se­cretly love all that red-car­pet stuff. Loads of ac­tors hate it, but I adore wear­ing pretty clothes and get­ting dressed up.’

Such a rapid rise to suc­cess made Emilia won­der whether she should de­camp per­ma­nently to the US. ‘I was com­ing [to LA] so much and I thought per­haps that was what I needed to do for my ca­reer.’ Then, she con­sid­ered a move to New York City. ‘I did Break­fast at Tif­fany’s on Broad­way and I just thought, OK, amaz­ing, I’ll live in New York,’ she says.

Her Broad­way de­but as Holly Go­lightly in the 2013 stage adap­ta­tion of Tru­man Capote’s novella turned out to be one of Emilia’s only slight mis­steps, a fact she is im­pres­sively upfront about: ‘ Break­fast at Tif­fany’s was not a mis­take, at all,’ she makes clear. ‘But it wasn’t a roar­ing suc­cess, I’ll be hon­est about that. I strug­gled. It was you ei­ther sink or swim. I found it very tough.’ I ask who she turns to in chal­leng­ing times like that. ‘My mom, my dad, my brother, and my bril­liant, lovely friends, most of whom are not ac­tors,’ she says.

prob­a­bly al­ways be in Lon­don, and what mat­ters most to me in life is the hap­pi­ness that comes from be­ing around them.’ She is hardly short of of­fers: she re­cently made Voice from the Stone – a Hitch­cock­ian thriller set in 50s Tus­cany – and due to tim­ing, had to turn down play­ing Ed­ward Snow­den’s girl­friend in Oliver Stone’s forth­com­ing

Emilia had what sounds like an idyl­lic child­hood on the semi-ru­ral bor­ders of Ox­ford­shire and Buck­ing­hamshire, with her brother, who is 18 months older than her. Her mother is a busi­ness­woman, her fa­ther a the­atre sound en­gi­neer, and it was on a trip to see the mu­si­cal Show Boat, aged three, that Emilia de­cided she wanted to act. win­ning a place to study at the Drama Cen­tre in Lon­don. She had only starred in TV ad­verts and an episode of the day­time soap Doc­tors be­fore she re­ceived the call, aged 22, to au­di­tion for what would be one of the big­gest tele­vi­sion phe­nom­ena of all time.

S be a cin­e­matog­ra­pher, which clearly de­lights her. ‘He came on set with me and was like, “This is what I want to do,”’ she says. Her par­ents have also spent time on the set of Game of Thrones. ‘It’s lovely when they come, even though my dad will of­ten fall asleep when he’s watch­ing the mon­i­tor, as if he’s watch­ing telly at home.’

Still, be­ing con­stantly on the move must get lonely: Game of Thrones re­quires half the year spent in Spain, Belfast and, in the past, Morocco, and Emilia has likened her itin­er­ant ex­is­tence to that of a crab, car­ry­ing its life on its back. ‘I kept think­ing that for clar­ity of mind, I had to be in one place. life is go­ing to work,’ she says. It also makes them ab­so­lutely im­pos­si­ble,’ she cries. She Seth Mac­Far­lane, and is ru­moured to have been in­volved with her Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys co-star Jai Court­ney, but wishes to ‘re­main neu­tral’ on her cur­rent re­la­tion­ship sta­tus. ‘I’m soppy, and I do like to be­lieve that when the right per­son comes along, it will work, be­cause you will want to make it work,’ she says. ‘Ev­ery­one else seems to man­age it.’

When we meet, she is deep into re­hearsals for Me Be­fore You a young woman who ends up car­ing for a man paral­ysed in to who I re­ally am,’ she says. ‘I loved the book so much. I’ve never wanted a role more, ever.’ There’s another time in years. ‘Yes!’ she whoops, ex­cit­edly. I can.’ She’ll also have the chance to work on ‘a funny in­die, in the same sort of bracket as

Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine’ – with her best friend, who she says is ‘the fun­ni­est per­son alive’. She be­gins bundling her pos­ses­sions back into her ‘bin’ of a bag, and read­ies her­self to leave a few hours. ‘I think it’s ev­ery ac­tor’s dream to cre­ate their own ma­te­rial,’ she says. ‘We started brain­storm­ing ideas, and we thought, if this makes us laugh, it might make other peo­ple laugh, too.’ If there’s even a frac­tion it’s a dead cert.

TOP, MU­GLER; TROUSERS, LANVIN; EAR­RING, UN­COM­MON MAT­TERS; EAR CUFF, REPOSSI

COAT AND SKIRT, GIVENCHY; RINGS, MAYA MAGAL LON­DON, JESSIE HAR­RIS

RIGHT Emilia as Daen­erys Tar­garyen in Game of Thrones

BE­LOW On the red car­pet

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