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THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE – The secret about overnight success in Hollywood is that it never actually happens that way.
To the casual observer, Emilia Clarke might look like one of the lucky ones: The young British actress was seemingly plucked out of the ether to star as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s wildly popular “Game of Thrones.” Just a few years later, she was chosen to make the leap to a summer blockbuster as Sarah Connor, one of action’s most iconic heroines, in “Terminator Genisys,” out Wednesday.
The ebullient Clarke, who nearly jumped out of her seat to answer questions in a recent interview, is the first to stress that she’s lucky to have reached these heights by age 28. But her path to playing some of the big and small screen’s most powerful women wasn’t exactly laid out before her.
Though Clarke is not from a royal Hollywood bloodline, she likes to say that she “grew up backstage” at the theaters of London, where her father was a sound designer. Clarke has also said she wanted to act since she was 3 years old, although that makes her laugh now.
“It was one of the first interviews I’d ever done and it was like, pick a number, any number, and I was like, ‘Let’s go with 3. Sure. Why not?’ Basically I just wanted to say from very young. I just can’t even think of a time in my life where I didn’t want to be an actor,” she said.
After hearing her prattle on for years about acting ambitions, her parents trotted her out to look at a drama school when she was 11. Clarke was terrified.
She saw the other kids in the school, hyper serious and driven, and decided she wanted to stay with her regular studies, work hard and get good grades, “just in case.”
If she still wanted to be a part of that world when she turned 18, she would go to drama school.
SUNDAY TIMES.AU – YOU can hear Emilia Clarke chitchatting away halfway down the corridor at the upscale The London hotel in Beverly Hills.
Awaiting my slot with the breakout star of HBO’s wildly successful series Game of Thrones, I’m already getting the impression the 28-year-old Brit isn’t anything like Daenerys Targaryen, the character she plays in the show.
It’s testament to the popularity of Clarke’s flaxen-haired heroine, aka Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, that she’ll be pulling in a reported $7 million salary by the time the series hits its seventh season (Season Five has just finished airing). And while she might have dismissed the figure as “not even close”, her star is undoubtedly about to go thermonuclear.
We’re here today to talk Terminator Genisys – the latest instalment of the series that began in 1984, in which Clarke reprises the role of the gun-toting warrior woman Sarah Connor opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie has blockbuster written all over it and is being billed as her ticket to the big time. Once I’m ushered into her suite, I’m greeted with the warmest of hellos and a huge, engaging smile. A petite 1.57m, Clarke’s flowing brunette hair frames a face that’s a step up from girl-next-door pretty, while a tight cream top and flirty skirt by Proenza Schouler hint at the curves that have, in part, thanks to plenty of nude scenes in the early days of Thrones, made her famous.
She must be too young to remember the original Terminator, I note. “Aw, bless you!” she trills. “But I was very aware of it. Sarah Connor is such an iconic character and there really was this mantle to uphold. But the beauty of this script is that it takes James Cameron’s original characters and puts them in an entirely new scenario, with a new history and everything.”
But while her backstory has been tweaked, Connor (played by a muscular Linda Hamilton in the original franchise) is still the kind of woman who catches bullets in her teeth for breakfast. For Clarke, preparing for the role meant: “Gun training. Lots of gun training. And they said I was really good… but then I was the one holding the gun!” From there: “It was just a case of putting on those Doc Martens and feeling like a badass.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – She’s commanded armies and dragons. She’s sparred with slave masters and horse lords. But what Emilia Clarke had to do on the Game of Thrones set last October left her unusually nervous: Sit and have a polite conversation. Sound easy? Not when the other actor is Clarke’s Emmy-winning co-star Peter Dinklage. This was the first time in the show’s five-year history that the two stars have ever shared a scene. Watching their iconic meetup was like witnessing a charmingly awkward first date as the two actors briefly struggled to find their conversational rhythm—complete with flubbed lines, accidentally spilled cups, and more than the usual number of takes as they worked their way through several pages of intricately composed dialogue.
“I’m like: ‘Oh my goodness, I’m talking to that dude on my telly,’” Clarke said. “I’m nervous. Butterflies. This is huge.”
Indeed: Having Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister meet Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen this season delighted fans, who were universally enthusiastic (for once!) about the showrunners making a narrative move not yet found in George R.R. Martin’s novels. The result was the most anticipated quite-drink chat since Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro got some coffee in Heat. A few minutes after the duo nailed that crucial scene, we talked to the actors about their newfound on-screen partnership.
MARIE CLAIRE UK – Emilia Clarke has revealed exclusively to Marie Claire why she turned down the role of Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey. In her cover interview in the July 2015 issue, the Game of Thrones star says she feared she would be typecast if she accepted the role in Fifty Shades of Grey because of her nude scenes in Game of Thrones.
‘I really wanted to work with [Fifty Shades director] Sam Taylor-Johnson because she’s fucking amazing. But there is a huge amount of nudity in the film,’ she explains. ‘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.’
Dressed to kill in our July cover shoot, Emilia also talks about the epic film role that will further help distance herself from playing Daenerys, Mother of Dragons in the hit Sky Atlantic TV show. She’ll play Sarah Connor (a role originally played by Linda Hamilton) in summer blockbuster, Terminator Genisys. In preparation she did hours of weightlifting every day.
‘Those fucking guns are super heavy,’ she recalls. ‘You’re running with them a lot of the time, and I needed to keep up with/be better than the boys. I needed to know what to do to have Arnold go: [adopting Arnie accent] “very nice”. That was my goal.’
On having her body scrutinized: ‘I remember when everything first kicked off, I Googled myself. You just do, it’s instinct. But never again,’ she adds. ‘It just takes that one person who says: “She’s a fat bitch,” and you’re like: “I’m a fat bitch!”
Despite being linked to Terminator Genisys co-star Jai Courtney, Emilia admits her nomadic existence makes romantic relationships ‘absolutely impossible’.
‘I’m soppy and I do like to believe that when the right person comes along, it will work, because you want to make it work. Everyone else seems to manage it.’
For some reason, Emilia Clarke best remembers the fruit plate.
It was 2010, and the actress was standing before Game of Thrones‘ casting director and several of the show’s producers. But all she could see was the produce. “There was a huge, incredible plateau of fruit,” Clarke, 28, recalls in her chirpy British accent. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve arrived. This is a serious audition.’ “
Just one year out of the famed Drama Centre London (other alums include Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy), the self-described “country girl” who grew up in Berkshire near Oxford University (where her father is a theater sound engineer and her mom a marketing exec) was struck by the extravagance. But Clarke was auditioning for the role of a queen, Daenerys Targaryen, potential heir to the Iron Throne. And HBO was willing to spend like a Lannister — $8 million for the pilot, $50 million to $60 million for the first season — in order to build the series. The snacks better be good.
Of course, in the five years since, Game of Thrones has become the most successful show in HBO history, surpassing even The Sopranos, with an average 18.4 million viewers an episode across all platforms. The series has grown so big, it’s being used as the cornerstone of HBO’s new business model; it’s no accident that HBO Now — a service that can bypass the cable companies and allows access to its programs via Apple TV for a monthly charge of $15 — is launching right before GOT’s fifth-season premiere April 12.
“Never in a million years did I think Game of Thrones was going to take off like it did,” says Clarke, settling into her chair at a Greenwich Village bistro with a cafe Americano (she lives in London but is in New York for the upcoming GOT publicity blitz). “It’s taken me five years to catch up with it. I’m still not sure I’m there.”
Oh, she’s there. Game of Thrones is a kingdom teeming with ambitious actors hungry for a big break. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau took his shot last spring in the Cameron Diaz rom-com The Other Woman. Kit Harington had his chance playing a gladiator in February 2014’s Pompeii. But Clarke is the only castmember who’ll be stepping onto the big screen with better billing than Arnold Schwarzenegger, starring as no less a film icon than “Sarah f—ing Connor” — as Clarke refers to her — in Terminator: Genisys, Paramount and Skydance’s $170 million reboot of the 31-year-old series (out July 1). She also was, presumably, the only GOT actor approached to play Dakota Johnson’s role in Fifty Shades of Grey (unless Peter Dinklage is hiding something), which she ended up turning down. “No regrets,” she says, sipping her coffee.
LOOK.co.uk – There aren’t many people who can add ‘working with dragons’ to their CV, but Emilia Clarke, 27, is an exception. Next month, she’ll return to our screens, almost certainly winning hearts and conquering her next kingdom, as Game Of Thrones’ most powerful female character Daenerys Targaryen, mother of dragons.
Emilia’s role as a goddess-like figure has turned her into an international star, especially as she spends a lot of time naked on the show. Talking about getting her kit off on TV in front of millions, she laughs about auditioning for the role and being told there might be some nudity involved: “I was given scenes to read and was told there may be nudity – a smidgen, I think, was the word used,” Emilia says. “I read the final script and my jaw dropped to the floor.”
If you haven’t managed to catch the show (seriously, where have you been?!) you only have until 9 April to catch up, because series five is set to be epic and with even bigger dragons. Gulp. We sat down with the GoT star to discover a little bit more about those nude scenes and why we’re all obsessed with the show…