TV and film can have an immeasurable impact on viewers. Moving and thought-provoking performances from actors often create a connection between audience and screen that is impossible to replicate with any other medium. While these emotional performances make us keep returning over and over again to consume more content, we often don’t consider what the actors have to endure in order to create these impactful performances. Indeed, it’s easy to forget the hardship and challenges that occur when the camera is no longer rolling.
There are several actors that were known to have struggled with their physical and mental health throughout the duration of filming for HBO’s Game of Thrones (via Vulture). This is hard news to hear, as the Game of Thrones cast holds a dear place in the hearts of fans everywhere. It was even harder to hear about all of the struggles Emilia Clarke dealt with during her role as Daenerys Targaryen.
Emilia Clarke dealt with life-threatening health conditions
In an incredibly raw and emotional personal piece in The New Yorker, Clarke revealed that while filming Game of Thrones, she was battling several brain hemorrhages. She details the moment she learned this; a rock-bottom, as it were, in which she found herself in the recovery position on the ground after an intense workout, feeling as though her brain was being “squeezed”, believing it to be “damaged.” Well, she was correct.
“The diagnosis was quick and ominous,” she explains in the essay. “A subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding in the space surrounding the brain.” The rest of the piece details how she managed to balance her new diagnosis while still breaking chains and raising dragons on Game of Thrones. But little to our knowledge, while working this unforgettable role, she struggled, admitting “every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.”
Emilia Clarke struggled to separate herself from her Game of Thrones character
For years, Clarke played the vivacious, head-strong, empowered Mother of Dragons. So she was just as surprised as the audience was when her story arc ended the way it did. After eight seasons of character development and a real-life love for her character, she couldn’t believe Danaerys’ twist ending.
“It f***ed me up,” Clarke told Vanity Fair in an interview, adding that “knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is” was a shock to her and audiences alike. Clarke revealed that she first read the final scripts right after she touched down at Heathrow Airport in London and “completely freaked out” after reading her script (via Entertainment Weekly). She remembers thinking, “What, what, what, WHAT!?” Clarke saw Daenerys as something as a feminist icon, as we all did. Just like fans, she was saddened for her time as this fierce wannabe queen to end in such a way.
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