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Above Suspicion

Emilia as Susan Smith
Solo: A SW Story

Emilia as Qi'Ra
Game Of Thrones

Emilia as Daenerys
Five Times In One Night

Emilia as ???
March 12, 2012  Nicole Interviews Press Releated

And so we have come to the end of our epic run of Game of Thrones roundtable interviews. It seems fitting to finish with the person who arguably has the strongest right to the Iron Throne, exiled Princess Daenerys Targaryen.

Played with a mixture of innocence, grace and serious badassary by British newcomer Emilia Clarke, we can report that our beloved Khaleesi is something of a laugh in real life. Pretty much constantly laughing throughout, Clarke’s cheery demeanour has convinced us to join her Khalasar and help her seize the Iron Throne. Something tells us we should lay off the DVD box set for a week or two.

How hard is the Dothraki language to learn? Have you made many mistakes?
Oh yeah! You know it’s going to be a really long filming day if it’s a Dothraki day. Basically it is a language that I could be fluent in but I’m not. You get the scripts through and the Dothraki on top of it so you get to kind of map the English onto the Dothraki, find the right intonations and all that kind of stuff but it’s a language and a culture that has come from George’s imagination and we’re trying to put it on screen so you kind of have liberty to sort of create it for yourself really as actors. So it was really, really good fun and it was a way of getting into Dany even more and her world.

Do you have a lot of Dothraki speaking scenes in season two?
Yeah it is still there. I remember reading the scripts and I was like, “wait a second! We’re not there anymore!” So yes there is still a fair amount of Dothraki.

Is it something you dread? It must bring a whole new level to learning a script.
Yeah definitely. I remember on the first day filming Dothraki I was beyond petrified. You just have a mind blank when it comes to it. But once you get through that and the words start to become far more familiar you kind of almost just have to turn your brain off and you know it. It just comes out. So yeah, just trying to get some good acting in there as well is the difficult bit!

There’s a fair amount of horse riding that you do. Is that something that you’d done before?
I’ve always kind of done horse riding, sort of. I mean [I’m a] well spoken English girl of course I have! Galloping around a field [I’m] absolutely fine with, but you put camera equipment and a director in front of me and I just get scared. So my horse riding skills took a bit of a nosedive I think during season one, but I’m kind of getting back up there.

When you read the script for the first time were you thinking, “Jesus, do I have to do all this?” Were you apprehensive?
Yeah definitely! I remember I was on like a little family holiday before I went and started filming and reading the scripts going, “oh my God! What?!” But I’d read the books, I knew what we had to do and it’s a collaborative process as well for a lot of the stuff that I had with Khal Drogo, the sex stuff, we had lots of discussions about it and kind of could be quite vocal in what we thought was appropriate and what we thought we should do as well. And 9 times out of 10 the integrity of the character won over anything that you might feel a little bit scared about. You kind of just have to go there. If you’re going to do it you might as well do it properly.

Where do you draw the line in scenes like this?
Of course you set the boundaries and then you try and find the best way of telling the story within them. And HBO are lovely. They’re not scary, they were nice. They didn’t want a kind of petrified wreck of an actress at the end of it so they made it very easy. And Jason Momoa is just the sickest individual I know!

How did the director and crew put you at ease?
It’s a closed set and we’d discussed it and I knew what I had to do, I’m an actor and you do your acting thing. I got completely into the character and just went to where we needed to go.

Where you scared of Jason [Momoa] when you first met him?
Definitely but when he first met me he basically rugby tackled me to the ground and went, “wifey!” Because he’s a big guy they like to do weights before they go on camera and so I remember there were a couple of scenes where he just ended up using me as a weight. Which was quite funny.

Did you miss him in the second season?
Yes, definitely. Khal Drogo is the first time she [Daenerys] starts to kind of take herself seriously as a woman and she falls in love, she falls completely in love with him. And I think through out the rest of the books Dany always misses him and definitely I always miss him as well because he provided so much fun and laughter to the set. He’s such a big character that it’s very hard to do it without him.

What was it like the first time you saw yourself with the hair?
It’s a two and a half hour rigmarole every morning getting the wig on. I thought it was brilliant. . Incredible. As an actor it’s a blessing because you get to look at yourself in the mirror and see Dany and not see me, it’s just another way of immersing yourself in the world and immersing yourself in Dany.

Have you seen any of season two yet?
We saw episodes one and two a couple of nights ago. It’s with a rather practical bump to earth we see her in season two. We left her with such a cliffhanger and on kind of a borderline spiritual level. And so when you see her in season two you just realise the harsh realities of what she has to come up against, that whilst there’s magic it’s newborn. She also has a tribe that she needs to take care of. So it’s an incredibly frustrating season for Dany in season two and it’s the realities of not only trying to be taken seriously as a woman in a man’s world but as a young girl in a man’s world as well and the dragons don’t seem to make as much difference as you would hope.

Do you still have to pinch yourself that one of your first roles is this?
Completely. I never thought in a million years that I would be doing something like this so early on at all. And even when I got the job I didn’t realise it would turn into what it’s turned into. I make it a point to not take too many steps back and look at the whole thing as a whole because I think I would just lose my bottle and freak out [laughs]. So what I try and do is just take each day as it comes and the same with Dany, take each scene as it comes and try and stay true to her and true to the truth of it and hopefully I can keep on going like that.

Is it a case of learning on the job?
Season one definitely was. It was baptism by fire in many more ways than one but I think you kind of just have to trust yourself, you have to trust your instincts that’s kind of the best thing to do without freaking out too much.

Were you worried about the fans reaction because Dany is so iconic?
Hugely! The biggest thing I wanted to make sure was that I was staying true to the integrity of the books and I was staying true to everyone’s individual imaginations of what they had for it. Because when you’ve got your favourite character in your favourite book it’s a special thing so I kind of tried very hard to make sure that how I read Dany was hopefully what they saw as well and I think that’s what HBO tried to do as well with the books and I hope that we got there with it and I hope that they stay with us for the next couple of seasons.

She has quite a journey in season one, how do you put yourself in that frame of mind? Because she starts out weak and timid and then becomes incredibly strong.
I think the thing with Dany is that first and foremost she’s a survivor. Although when you first see her she is this meek, timid kind if girl who’s been very much under her brother’s thumb she is a Targaryen and they are and incredibly strong group of people and whilst the only thing she knows is what her brother’s told her, he’s fiercely ambitious and he was pretty determined as to what he wanted and pretty determined to instil in her that it’s her family birthright. But the thing with Dany, it’s like something that I can’t quite explain but I got from my first reading of her, unlike the other characters who kind of have this; I think I’m safe to say, a more of an egotistical desire or a need or a want or a kind of, “it’s my right to go and get the Iron Throne,” [with] Dany it’s her destiny. If she could not have it she probably wouldn’t. But every time she comes up against something she knows that she has to overcome it because she just trusts her instincts and knows that these are the difficult decisions she’s got to make to get to where she needs to get to. So in terms of that it was just a matter of taking each scene as it comes and playing the truth. You start the scene like this and come out of it the other end, so you’ve got to kind of go a little badass to get there basically!

How do you keep your feet on the ground after landing such a big role?
The biggest thing that I always said to myself is not to read anything and not to look at anything. I remember when it first happened you can’t help yourself. I’m a kid who just quit all three jobs, I just got this ridiculous, incredible role so I remember reading something not very nice so I thought, “that’s it curiosity killed the cat, I’m not reading anything ever again.” So because of that I kind of go on set and do my job and if someone’s said something wonderful or if there’s a good response from the fans, someone will tell you. It will get through to you, you don’t need to go looking for it yourself. And so I just try my hardest to take a step back from it and whilst all of that stuff is lovely and it’s wonderful and I’m so blessed that it’s good for the time being, it’s not why I do it. I’m an actor and I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, I want to be acting when I’m 90 and that other stuff is not what I’m here for. I’m here for the acting.

Has the role changed your daily life?
It’s changed my daily life in that I do it [laughs]. I mean my life yes is unrecognisable to what it was a year ago, there’s no denying that. But at the same time I go home and see my family and I hang out with my mates and I go to gigs and I go to the theatre and I’m incognito, no one recognises me because of my hair. I’m still very much not having to deal with anything too mental.

We’ve talked to some of the other cast about getting recognised in public, are you very much under the radar?
It rarely happens but I was in LA a couple of weeks ago and I was in this department store and I was in the lift and these lift doors opened and this woman just sort of looked at me and went, “Khalessi?” and the doors kind of closed [laughs]. That was mental! And so you occasionally get people [recognising you) or you get people giving you weird looks. I remember I did that, I met Robert Pattinson before he did Twilight and I was like, “aren’t you my mates cousin?” And it’s like, “no I’m famous.” And you’re like, “oh right damn it sorry, yeah.” So I think you get people kind of giving you confused looks.

Were you a fan of the fantasy genre before? Had you read much or seen much?
I sort of grew up on Lord of The Rings. My Grandad used to read it to me as a kid and as a family, this is so lame, we used to go and watch the Lord of The Rings films altogether so in that sense I always have. And my brother was a Warhammer kid so I was around it. I’m an actor, I like using my imagination, I like telling stories and listening to stories and hearing them and I think the fundamentals of fantasy I’ve always been a fan of.

So you would’ve watched Game of Thrones as a fan?
Definitely! First and foremost I’m an HBO fan, like if you haven’t watched The Wire you’re an idiot sort of thing. So in that sense it’s an HBO show so I’m always going to watch it. I think that HBO took a huge risk in doing it, doing fantasy, because it’s not something that’s done. It’s not Harry Potter, it’s not Lord of The Rings, it’s really gritty and real and shows explicit things. It’s a lot of blood and guts and sex and violence and I think in that sense that’s what separates Game of Thrones from a lot of other shows. You take the magic and the fantasy elements away and it is a powerful piece of drama with intriguing, complex characters. And then having the magic on top just adds an extra spice to it I think.

How would you like you career to develop?
Oh there’s so much stuff I want to do. I’ve got a very eclectic taste in television and film. Lucille Ball is kind of an idol of mine, I love Lucy, I’m a huge fan. So comedy would be wicked but at the same time I went to a British drama school and kind of fell in love with the theatre first and foremost so getting my teeth into a good Clifford Odets play would be incredible. But if I could be anywhere close to where Meryl Streep is right now that would be sick [laughs]. That would be perfect.

Are you working in between filming Game of Thrones?
At the moment I’m filming this film in Manchester called Spike Island, that’s all about the Stone Roses based on that seminal gig. If you imagine Game of Thrones and then every single way it could be opposite, that’s pretty much what the film I’m doing at the moment is. I’m playing this little [adopts perfect Mancunian accent] Mancunian girl called Sally. Sally Cinnamon! So it’s pretty good fun.

Do you like the travelling you have to do for Game of Thrones? Filming in Malta and Croatia?
Yeah completely. I’ve got a serious travel book. Before I started doing this kind of stuff I did a lot of backpacking around the world so I love it when we get to go to different places and Croatia is incredible, so beautiful and you don’t know where you are. It could be Italy, it could be Spain, it could be France it’s just absolutely beautiful.

Working with such a big a cast there must be people you’ve not had scenes with, did you meet them at the second season screening?
Yeah it was really bizarre. We watched episodes one and two and went around saying, “lovely to meet you, we’re in the show together!” So it’s quite bizarre having that but at the same time it’s lovely because you watch the show and you’re continually being surprised. Whilst I’ve read the scripts it’s very different having it come alive on the screen for you.

Was there a moment when you saw the show that you were just blown away by the other story lines you’re not involved in?
Oh completely! Yeah definitely. And I’ve got my favourite characters that aren’t me [laughs]. I’m continually blown away. Episodes one and two look so good, I think it’s going to be even better than season one.

Are you aware of how much of a female icon Dany is? Women love her. Does that affect the way you play her at all?
It’s funny because I’m a woman and I love her. My reasoning as to why I love her, I imagine echoing what they would like from Dany in a character. Getting to play a strong woman, it’s brilliant. Getting to do scenes that are just so kind of rich and you get to be aggressive and violent and maternal and getting to do it at this age. I don’t know of any other characters that are out there that are this strong this young. That’s the fun stuff and that’s probably the stuff that they would be responding to. And that’s just my favourite kind of compliment.

What are your opinions on her relationship with Ser Jorah Mormont?
Season two really tackles that relationship I think and you start to see it in a different way. It’s intriguing and it’s difficult. She’s a young girl with no one but her dragons and he’s an older man who’s her advisor and I think that in the extreme circumstances that you find them in it’s really kind of put to the test.

Why didn’t Dany lose her hair at the end of season one [as she does in the book]?
Everyone liked the wig? I’m not sure [laughs]. I can’t really tell you. I think continuity breathed a sigh of relief when we said we’d keep it.

(source)