Who Is Emilia Clarke?
Emilia Clarke developed an interest in acting at a young age, and after graduating from secondary school she attended the renowned Drama Centre London. Following various small roles on television, Clarke's big break came in 2011 when she landed the role of Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO hit series Game of Thrones. Since then she has starred on Broadway and been cast in films like Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Clarke was born in London, England, on October 23, 1986. Raised in the countryside of Oxfordshire, her interest in acting began at an early age, when her mother took her to a production of the classic musical Show Boat, on which her father was working as a sound engineer. Accompanying her father on future trips to the theater would only deepen her fascination.
Clarke was educated at Rye St. Antony and St. Edwards in Oxford, during which time she appeared in productions of West Side Story and Twelfth Night. Rounding out her love of performance, she also learned to sing and play the guitar. Following her graduation from secondary school, she was accepted at the esteemed Central Saint Martins Drama Centre London, which counts actors such as Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy among its more famous alumni. While pursuing her studies, Clarke appeared in numerous stage productions at the school.
Movies and TV Shows
'Game of Thrones'
After completing her studies at the Drama Centre in 2009, Clarke set to work building her career, landing her first television role in the BBC dramatic series Doctors and appearing in several commercials. A more significant role came the following year, in the made-for-TV horror/sci-fi movie Triassic Attack (2010). But despite this early television work, Clarke was holding several day jobs to make ends meet. Her big break finally came when she received a call from her agent asking her if she could audition for the new HBO series Game of Thrones. Clarke immediately called in sick to the catering company she was scheduled to work for, and after a successful audition was cast in the role of Daenerys Targaryen, would-be queen and Mother of Dragons, a role originally held by Tamzin Merchant, who left the show after filming the unaired pilot.
Based on the series of novels by George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones was an immediate and massive hit and ran for eight wildly successful seasons before wrapping in May 2019. For her standout role, Clarke won several awards and garnered multiple Emmy and Screen Actors Guild nominations.
"I've had the good fortune of being in this incredible show with this incredible character," she told NPR in 2019. "And my goodness, if I were to get stereotyped as the Mother of Dragons, I could ask for worse. It's really quite wonderful."
Later in the year, during an appearance on Dax Shepard's podcast, the actress revealed that she felt pressured to film nude scenes for the show.
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' on Broadway, 'Terminator Genisys'
Clarke’s newfound fame from Game of Thrones quickly led to other projects, including a starring role in the 2012 indie music drama Spike Island. In 2013 she made her first appearance on Broadway, cast as Holly Golightly in a stage production of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and starred opposite Jude Law in the British comedy Dom Hemingway. After turning down the lead in 50 Shades of Grey — stating that she didn’t want to be pigeonholed in “nudity” roles — Clarke was cast as Sarah Connor opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys, the 2015 installment of the Terminator saga.
'Solo: A Star Wars Story,' 'Last Christmas'
Clarke also starred in the romantic drama Me Before You (2016) and the much anticipated Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) as Qi'ra, Solo's childhood friend and romantic interest. Next up was the female lead of Kate, opposite Henry Golding's mysterious Tom, in the romantic comedy Last Christmas (2019).
The frequent subject of various gossip columns and tabloids, Emilia Clarke has been romantically linked to Seth MacFarlane, whom she dated for several months, and is rumored to have been involved with actors Cory Michael Smith (her co-star in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), James Franco and Jai Courtney. In early 2019 it was reported she had ended her romance with director Charlie McDowell.
In a March 2019 essay for The New Yorker, Clarke revealed that she suffered two aneurysms during the early years of Game of Thrones. The first, which struck after the end of season 1 and required an emergency operation, left her unable to communicate in its aftermath and exhausted once production resumed. The actress underwent a more complicated procedure after the second season, leaving her in terrible pain. During her darkest days, she wrote, she considered suicide, and even while pushing forward she often worried she wouldn't survive.
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