How Emilia Clarke went from little-known actress to a breakout star on 'Game of Thrones'

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. The cast is currently filming season six.

Since Esquire just named her the “Sexiest Women Alive,” we’re taking a look back at how Clarke rose to fame.

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.

Matt Cardy/Getty

Source: The Guardian

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.

Warner Brothers

Source: Harpers Bazaar

Clarke attended the famed Drama Centre London, which counts Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, and Tom Hardy among its alumni.

Emilia Clarke appears in a student film at University of London.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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 ...

Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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.

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Source: Marie Claire and The Hollywood Reporter

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.

Source: Marie Claire

She's since tried to steal the dragon eggs from set, to no avail.

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.'

In 2013, she received an Emmy nomination for best supporting actress in a drama series.

Kevin Winter/Getty
'Breaking Bad' actor Dean Norris and Emilia Clarke speak onstage during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

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.

Michael Yaris/Getty
Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke react to the crowds of fans at an autograph signing.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Clarke will reportedly make $7 million a season by season 7, which has yet to be green-lit.

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.

Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

Through it all, Clarke's managed to stay out of the spotlight and out of trouble. She briefly dated 'Family Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane.

Frazer Harrison/Getty
Emilia Clarke, Seth MacFarlane, Alfie Allen, and Rose Leslie attend the Playboy and 'True Blood' 2012 event.

She manages to go unnoticed in public because her natural dark hair looks nothing like Daenerys'.

Stuart Wilson / Stringer

This summer, Clarke starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Terminator Genisys,' Paramount and Skydance's 31-year-old franchise. She had top billing as Sarah Connor.

Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures

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.

Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures

See another young actress' rise to fame.

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