Just a few short years ago, unknown British actress Emilia Clarke had just two filming credits on her résumé: walk-on roles in a soap opera and a made-for-TV movie.
Now the “Mother of Dragons” reportedly earns north of $US7 million per season in “Game of Thrones,” the most watched show in HBO history. Season five comes to a close on Sunday.
July 1, Clarke reprises the role of Sarah Connor in “Terminator Genisys.”
At boarding school, she coxed, or steered, the boys' eight-rower boat. That is, until she steered the team down the wrong tunnel and got them disqualified at a Henley regatta.
A girlie-girl, she developed an early obsession with Audrey Hepburn in 'My Fair Lady.' She would often say, 'I swear on Chanel,' when she wanted to be taken seriously.
Clarke attended the famed Drama Centre London, which counts Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, and Tom Hardy among its alumni.
Her first television appearance was a walk-on role in 'Doctors,' a UK soap opera based in a fictitious hospital.
A year later, she played a teen in the made-for-TV monster movie 'Triassic Attack.' The film follows a sheriff as he battles three dinosaur fossils brought to life in a small town.
Fresh out of drama school, she worked six jobs to pay the rent. When her agent called to say she landed an audition for a new HBO show, Clarke had to call in sick to her catering job ...
In preparation for the 'Game of Thrones' audition, she 'Wikipedia-ed the crap out of' George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series and listened to Tupac Shakur music to feel fierce.
'We saw hundreds of people for the role,' said D.B. Weiss, screenwriter and executive producer of 'Game of Thrones. 'This character needed to step into Joan of Arc territory, to deliver a messianic level of intensity. There was only one actress (we saw) who could do that.'
Clarke's character, Daenerys Targaryen, is a strong, confident, and courageous young woman on a quest to reclaim the Iron Throne for the House of Targaryen.
In season one, Daenerys hatched three dragons, earning her the moniker 'Mother of Dragons.' In real life, Clarke wears a golden necklace inscribed with the initials 'MOD,' given to her by Weiss and showrunner David Benioff.
There's an infamous scene in which Daenerys eats a raw stallion heart for part of a ritual. Clarke had to eat 25 of them, and said, 'They tasted like congealed jam, with a hint of bleach.'
The show's leads, Clarke, Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), banded together to negotiate higher salaries.
Still, Clarke has other sources of income now. She played Jude Law's daughter in the British black comedy 'Dom Hemingway.'
She also played Holly Golightly in the Broadway version of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's.' Critics were not kind, and the show closed after 38 performances.
The role even required her to sing! Clarke has hinted before about a potential foray into a singing career.
There have been opportunities she's turned down, too. Clarke refused the role of Anastasia Steele in 'Fifty Shades of Grey' because she didn't want to be labelled for doing nudity.
Through it all, Clarke's managed to stay out of the spotlight and out of trouble. She briefly dated 'Family Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane.
She manages to go unnoticed in public because her natural dark hair looks nothing like Daenerys'. That's about to change ...
July 1, Clarke stars alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Terminator Genisys,' Paramount and Skydance's estimated $170 million reboot of the 31-year-old franchise. She has top billing as Sarah Connor.
The role was a little more physical than 'Game of Thrones' requires. 'The hours were so long and the guns were so heavy, so I had to get myself into a place where I wouldn't crap out at four o'clock,' she says.
And there's more work to be done. ''Game of Thrones' opened a lot of doors,' Clarke said in a recent interview. 'It opened them all.'
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