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“I’ve been growing with her, which is the exciting part,” Clarke said. “Man, she’s got more strength than I have, that’s for sure. Getting to be with her throughout this growth process is so exciting as an actor. While she’s pushing herself, I get to push myself and my acting every season.”
FOUR YEARS AGO, when Emilia Clarke was fresh out of drama school and “working six jobs to pay the rent,” she got a call from her agent: She had 24 hours to prepare for an audition for a new HBO show called Game of Thrones. “I called in sick to my catering job and Wikipedia-ed the crap out of it,” recalls the 27-year-old London-based actress, who landed the part of Daenerys “Dany” Targaryen four days later. “To be employed by HBO, I was like, ‘I can die now.'” These days, she flies off to locales like Malta, Croatia, and Morocco to film the fantasy series, the fourth season of which just premiered. Though her role—a displaced, white-blonde queen with three dragons as charges—is arguably the most memorable in a show full of unforgettable characters, the Emmy-nominated Clarke herself goes unrecognized most of the time, thanks to her natural brown hair and decidedly contemporary wardrobe. Today, she’s wearing white Topshop skinny jeans, a Helmut Lang tank top, and Tory Burch wedge sandals, a far cry from Daenerys’ signature flowing togas.
But flying beneath the radar keeps her humble. Clarke’s response to a recent AskMen survey that named her Most Desirable Woman of 2014? “I’m sure it was some member of my family clicking a thousand times,” jokes Clarke. “Maybe one of those men could ask me out on a date.” And should she ever fall prey to an inflated Tinseltown ego, her tiny hometown in Buckinghamshire in the south of England promises to keep her grounded. “I get to go home and walk the dog and no one really cares in the most glorious way,” she says. “They’re more intrigued about whether people are picking up the dog muck from the path.”
Clarke might have inherited her down-to-earth genes from her parents. She recalls showing her father, a theater sound engineer, a gold necklace inscribed with her “Mother of Dragons” moniker, “MOD,” given to her by Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Upon inspecting the nameplate, her father asked with a furrowed brow, “Why on earth have you got ‘Ministry of Defense’ ’round your neck?”
In addition to her Game of Thrones role, Clarke has played Holly Golightly in the Broadway version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She waxes exuberant equally about those she knows and respects (stage co-star Cory Michael Smith is “the love of my life…a fierce talent…a serious one to watch”) and those she’s never met and respects, like her “favorite person on the planet”: Ryan Gosling. “I don’t know him,” she says. “I’ve just read this interview where I’m like, ‘Okay, you’re now officially beautiful and intelligent.'”
She’s also done small British indies like 2012’s Spike Island, for which she claims viewers will need subtitles to understand her Manchester accent, and the just-released Dom Hemingway, in which she plays a daughter estranged from her criminal father (Jude Law). And for her next huge break, she’s currently training to play Sarah Connor in the next Terminator movie, set for 2015.
Though Clarke is just getting started, she already has her eye fixed firmly on the golden ring: “Personally, I’d like as many children as I can pop out, I reckon. You come from a happy family; you want to create a happy family. And in the same breath, I’d like to be on stage at England’s National Theatre, doing Miller and Chekhov. Give me a Sam Mendes/Tennessee Williams combination—that would be glorious. And to be making some Oscar-worthy movies with Scorsese. I’m always looking for the hard road. That way, you remain interested and interesting. Hopefully.”
Vanity Fair contributing editor Jim Windolf talks to George R. R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the ongoing book series on which the popular HBO show Game of Thrones is based, who tells Windolf that the show is indeed catching up to the books: “They are. Yes. It’s alarming.”
In the April issue of Vanity Fair, on stands March 13, show co-creator David Benioff tells Windolf, “Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be. If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.” Martin tells Windolf, “I can give them the broad strokes of what I intend to write, but the details aren’t there yet. I’m hopeful that I can not let them catch up with me.”
Windolf reports that the presence of so many child actors in the cast, including the terrific Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, increases the time pressure. “This is a serious concern,” Martin tells Windolf. “Maisie was the same age as Arya when it started, but now Maisie is a young woman and Arya is still 11. Time is passing very slowly in the books and very fast in real life.”
Emilia Clarke on her character Dany in Game of Thrones season four
Emilia is featured in the March Spring Fashion issue of WSJ. Magazine. She talks about the dynamic between her and her Game of Thrones costars; how she landed the role; and the trials and tribulations of being a drama student. The photoshoot and article are available online.
These are some of Emilia quotes from the article, be sure to check it on WSJ. Magazine site or in the issue that will hits newsstands Saturday, February 15!
Emilia Clarke Quotes
• Since Clarke’s character is often alone, she has yet to share a scene with many of her costars: “We’re [often] in totally different locations. You’re at an awards show, saying ‘Lovely to meet you. We’re in a show together, apparently. You’re really good!’”
• Her GOT audition went something like this: “I did the robot, followed by the funky chicken. I think it sealed the deal.”
• On her insecurities during season one of GOT: “I spent season one just hoping I was doing it right.”
• Clarke increasingly sees more of Dany in herself: “It’s the growth of a girl into a woman. She’s being thrown into the deep end, to see if she can sink or swim, and she decides to do it her way. It was wonderful to see a character with such humble beginnings, and such low self-esteem, beginning to trust herself. So my feelings within filming it were echoed—in a much more dramatic way, obviously.”
• On her very first audition for a play in London at 10 years old: “I was learning a folk song in school about a donkey, so I decided to sing that. They said, ‘Do you know anything more current?’ I then gave them my best rendition of the Spice Girls, complete with dance moves—that’s where my musical career ended. It made me realize that I wasn’t quite ready. I think my parents were trying to give me a healthy dose of realism early on.”
Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Joint Quotes
• On Clarke’s sense of humor: “She’s effing funny. Does that mean we’ve written hilarious scenes for her? No. But someone should.”
• On the dynamic acting skills that set Clarke apart: “We needed an actress who could convincingly embody both the timid, voiceless Dany we first meet, and the Mother of Dragons she later becomes. Only Emilia nailed both.”
June 2013: the internet announces the engagement of Emilia Clarke, 26, actor known for her role in HBO fantasy epic Game of Thrones, to James Franco, film star, director, writer, thinker. Text messages fly in from Clarke’s friends, some of whom she hasn’t spoken to since she was about four years old. “I had my aunt from America calling me up and being like” – Clarke slips into a brassy East Coast accent – “‘Where’s the ring?'”
She lets out a peal of laughter so gleeful you can almost hear the exclamation marks. She had met Franco only twice when the gossip sites, intoxicated by the sight of them visiting an art fair together in New York, announced their utterly nonexistent betrothal. “It’s hilarious,” says Clarke. “He is, of course, beautiful. But I feel there’s only a handful of women who could form an engagement after two meetings, and I’m not one of them.”
This is what happens when you are Hollywood’s latest crush. Clarke’s Game of Thrones role as Khaleesi, the ivory-haired warrior queen, has transformed her, in an eyeblink, from drama-school graduate to red-carpet beauty and potential Mrs Franco. In the two years since landing the part, Clarke has had an Emmy nomination and a lead role on Broadway; she has travelled the world to shoot Game of Thrones (Croatia, Morocco, Iceland); she has dated one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood (Seth MacFarlane). And now she’s in a film with Jude Law, which is as good way as any of saying that life is pretty great.
Photoshoots > Session #038 [+7]
CBS revealed the full roster of presenters for the 2013 Emmy Awards on Thursday (Sept. 19), and the list includes some of the most talented and fan-favorite performers on television.
“Trophy Wife’s” Malin Akerman, “Arrow’s” Stephen Amell, “Nashville’s” Connie Britton, “Scandal’s” Dan Bucatinsky, “Game of Thrones'” Emilia Clarke, Jimmy Fallon, Tim Gunn, “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm, “How I Met Your Mother’s” Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders, Mark Harmon, LL Cool J, “The Mindy Project’s” Mindy Kaling, Heidi Klum, Melissa Leo, “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies, “Hostages'” Dylan McDermott, Bob Newhart, “Breaking Bad’s” Dean Norris, “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons, Carrie Preston, and “Ironside’s” Blair Underwood.
The Emmys, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.