Following the series finale of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen actor Emilia Clarke has broken her silence about the shocking actions and fate of her character. As it turns out, she experienced similar feelings to what much of the show's massive audience seems to be exhibiting.
Spoilers for the Game of Thrones series finale follow. Massive spoilers!
Dany's turn to villainy in Episode 8x05 which saw her losses adding up to a mental breakdown which launched an assault on all of King's Landing's people, essentially leveling and burning the city, left many members of the audience asking, "What?" "Why?" and "How?" As it turns out, Clarke was asking similar questions.
“What, what, what, WHAT!?” Clarke tells EW of the shocking twist. “Because it comes out of f—king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.” The actress had been traveling at the Heathrow airport when she received the final scripts, which prompted a good bit of excitement and a race home to find out how it would all come to an end.
“I got myself situated,” she says. “I got my cup of tea. I had to physically prepare the space and then begin reading them.”
Then came the disbelief, reading not only that Daenerys would slaughter the people of King's Landing but also be slain by her lover Jon Snow for her actions. “I cried,” Clarke says. “And I went for a walk. I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours. I’m like, ‘How am I going to do this?’”
When it came time to read the script with the cast as table read, Jon Snow actor Kit Harington's first time experiencing the plot, the disbelief was shared as Clarke had to “watch him compute all of this.”
This was before reading their final scene, when Harington says, “I looked at Emilia and there was a moment of me realizing, ‘No, no…’” She responded sadly, "Yes."
“He was crying,” Clarke said. “And then it was kind of great him not having read it.”
Clarke does admit, the showrunners seemed to have Dany's turn to madness in mind all along. “There’s a number of times I’ve been like: ‘Why are you giving me that note?’” Clarke recalls, often trying to give Daenerys a more heroic story and character along the way. “So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.”
“She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn’t going to be something scuttling her greatest plans,” she says. “The problem is [the Starks] don’t like her and she sees it. She goes, ‘Okay, one chance.’ She gives them that chance and it doesn’t work and she’s too far to turn around. She’s made her bed, she’s laying in it. It’s done. And that’s the thing. I don’t think she realizes until it happens — the real effect of their reactions on her is: ‘I don’t give a s—t.’ This is my whole existence. Since birth! She literally was brought into this world going, ‘Run!’ These f—kers have f—ked everything up, and now it’s, ‘You’re our only hope.’ There’s so much she’s taken on in her duty in life to rectify, so much she’s seen and witnessed and been through and lost and suffered and hurt. Suddenly these people are turning around and saying, ‘We don’t accept you.’ But she’s too far down the line. She’s killed so many people already. I can’t turn this ship around. It’s too much. One by one, you see all these strings being cut. And there’s just this last thread she’s holding onto: There’s this boy. And she thinks, ‘He loves me, and I think that’s enough.’ But is it enough? Is it? And it’s just that hope and wishing that finally there is someone who accepts her for everything she is and … he f—king doesn’t.”
Still, amongst the many bodies in Game of Thrones' wake, Clarke always expected her character's.
“I thought she was going to die,” she continues. “I feel very taken care of as a character in that sense. It’s a very beautiful and touching ending. Hopefully, what you’ll see in that last moment as she’s dying is: There’s the vulnerability — there’s the little girl you met in season 1. See? She’s right there. And now, she’s not there anymore…”
In the end, she tries to give a nod of being proud of the series and, ultimately, her character's role in it. “But having said all of the things I’ve just said…” Clarke says. “I stand by Daenerys. I stand by her! I can’t not.”