Just a few short years ago, actress Emilia Clarke had just two filming credits on her résumé: walk-on roles on a soap opera and a made-for-TV movie. Now the Mother of Dragons earns a reported $US500,000 per episode on “Game of Thrones,” the most-watched show in HBO history.
Let’s take a look back at how Clarke rose to fame.
Melia Robinson contributed to a previous version of this post.
Born in the fall of 1986, Emilia Clarke grew up in the picturesque county of Buckinghamshire, in the south of England.
She was born October 23, 1986, and given the full name Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clark.
As a child, she developed an obsession with Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.”
She would later play Holly Golightly from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Broadway in 2013, another role that Hepburn made iconic.
“There’s not much I can do about all the people who come in and hope for Audrey Hepburn,” she said at the time to the New York Times. “I just hope they’re not terribly disappointed.”
Clarke attended the famed Drama Center London.
She was originally rejected by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2005 before applying to the Drama Center London a year later (and getting off the waiting list).
“There were a lot of beautiful, blond, gorgeous girls in my year who got the Juliets and the like,” she told the NY Times. “I got the Jewish grandmothers and all the farcical parts, which was actually really, really good because it made me aware of my capabilities as an actor.”
The school’s famous alumni include Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, and Tom Hardy.
Her first television appearance was a walk-on role on “Doctors,” a UK soap opera based in a fictitious hospital.
She played a character Saskia Mayer on season 11.
She also played a teen in the made-for-TV movie “Triassic Attack.”
The film follows a sheriff as he battles three dinosaur fossils brought to life in a small town.
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.
She says she was working six jobs to pay the rent.
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’s music.
“To be employed by HBO, I was like, ‘I can die now,'”Clarke told Marie Claire in 2014.
“This character needed to step into Joan of Arc territory, to deliver a messianic level of intensity,” showrunner D.B. Weiss told The Hollywood Reporter. “There was only one actress who could do that.”
Weiss added that they saw “hundred of people” for the role of Daenerys. According to the NY Times,Clarke replaced someone originally hired for the pilot.
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.
“Game of Thrones” premiered on HBO in April 2011.
On 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 showrunners Weiss and David Benioff.
She’s since tried to steal the dragon eggs from set, to no avail.
Clarke told Harper’s Bazaar that the eggs are “really, really, really expensive and they are really f—— heavy and serious works of art.”
Following the show’s success, 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.
“On ‘Game of Thrones,’ I have always been paid the same amount as my male co-stars,” Clarke said in May 2018. “It was my first job and I was not discriminated against because I was a woman, in my paycheck.”
Through it all, Clarke’s managed to stay out of the spotlight and out of trouble. She briefly dated “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane.
Clarke hasn’t spilled any details regarding their relationship.
She managed for a long time to go unnoticed in public because her natural dark hair looks nothing like Daenerys’ platinum locks.
“I don’t get recognised, truly,” Clarke told Conan O’Brien in April 2016. “I’ll be walking with Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, or Gwen [Christie], who plays Brienne of Tarth, and people will be like, ‘Can you take this picture for us?’ And I’m like, ‘Sure! Definitely I can!'”
In 2015, Clarke starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator Genisys,” Paramount’s 31-year-old franchise.
She had top billing as Sarah Connor.
The following year, she played a small town working girl in the romantic drama “Me Before You,” alongside Sam Claflin.
The film was based on a book written by Jojo Moyes.
Clarke also starred in the psychological thriller “Voice from the Stone.”
The movie was shot at a castle in Italy.
There have been opportunities she’s turned down, too, like “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Clarke refused the lead role in “Fifty Shades of Grey” because she didn’t want to be labelled for doing nudity.
In the 2018 film “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Clarke played Qi’ra.
She said the character is similar to Daenerys because “they are both very powerful women, and they’re both survivors.”
“There’s a kind of need in them to keep moving forward in a world that maybe otherwise would reject that [from] a woman,” she told InStyle.
As the HBO series heads into its final season in 2019, there’s still more work to be done for Clarke.
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