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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.
Emilia is featured in the latest issue (April 03-10) of The Hollywood Reporter, with a beautiful new photoshoot. The issue cover and some outtakes have been added to the gallery, be sure to check them! I’ll add the scans as soon as possible!
THR – Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke spends a day in the West Village with The Hollywood Reporter.
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…