Filming Game of Thrones presented the stars with a number of challenges, one of which being the need to convey powerful and emotional pieces of dialogue in made-up languages. Emilia Clarke, however, was so adept at embracing fictional dialects that one pivotal scene in Season Five of the HBO series required her to give an intense monologue in Valyrian, resulting in her cobbling together bits and pieces of lines she previously spoke to craft an all-new speech. The scene was originally meant to be delivered in English, but when it lacked the impact the filmmakers were going for, Clarke was quick to embrace the fictional language for a scene in which she had to intimidate a group of Meereenese noblemen.
“Then [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] came down – they were watching the scene being shot – and they said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the scene was in Valyrian?'" director Jeremy Podeswa shared during an interview for the book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, per Entertainment Weekly. "There’s usually a lot of preparation for that sort of thing and so much consideration that goes into it and she had quite a big monologue before she sets the guy on fire.”
He added, “I went over to Emilia and I was like, ‘I know this is a really big ask, but do you think you could figure out a way to do this in Valyrian?’ She said, ‘Yeah, sure, I think I can do this.' And I'm all, 'Really?' Then she went off and cobbled together things that [Daenerys] had said in the past that made sense. She came back in 10 minutes and had this whole monologue down."
Of the many compelling characters and performers involved with Game of Thrones, Clarke's Daenerys quickly became a fan-favorite, with her trajectory over the course of the narrative being one of the most intense and unexpected. It should come as no surprise, then, that the actress was able to pull off such an impressive feat, thanks to how well she knew her character and her experiences.
“I just had to hand it to Emilia for taking on the challenge and making it completely credible,” Podeswa continued. “Every single take, every intonation, and the way she phrased everything, you completely understood what she was meant to be saying. Then the subtitles all seemed authentic to what she was doing. She knew the language well enough at that point to make it all work. It wasn't tracking perfectly in Valyrian, but no fan ever noticed it. She did an amazing job.”
Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon is now available. Stay tuned for details on the future of the Game of Thrones franchise.
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