Got A Tip?

Star Seeker

Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke Sounds Off On Daenerys' Fate In The 'Game Of Thrones' Finale: 'I Cried'

Emilia Clarke stands by her Game of Thrones character

Despite how you may feel about Daenerys Targaryen’s dark turn in the final season of Game of Thrones, it’s impossible to deny that she wasn’t the show’s most iconic, groundbreaking character.
The Mother of Dragon’s actions in season eight were found by many to be out of character: while Dany’s sudden pivot into the Mad Queen may have set up her controversial fate in the finale, a large number of fans pointed to her spiral as a prime example of female characters being mishandled on the award winning series.
Naturally, Emilia Clarke had complicated emotions when she first read the final script for Thrones in October 2017 — and while she may understand why her character had to suffer such a tragic death, she made one thing clear: she still stands by the Breaker of Chains.
Related: Twitter Reacts To ‘Game Of Thrones’ Series Finale!
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Khaleesi portrayer revealed that she was absolutely gobsmacked when she read the words that revealed Dany’s fate in the series finale. She read that paragraph seven times, she admitted, as she recalled thinking:

“What, what, what, WHAT!? Because it comes out of f**king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.”

Gurl, same.
The shocking revelation was made to the actress just as she returned to London after finishing filming Solo: A Star Wars Story. She electronically received the scripts the minute she landed at Heathrow and recalls that she “completely flipped out.”
After rushing home and getting herself “situated” with a cup of tea, Clarke physically prepared the space and began reading the final scripts for season eight.
As she would discover, Dany arrives at Winterfell and butts heads with Sansa. She learns Jon Snow is the true heir to the Iron Throne and is like “okay, but you still love me, right?” Jon acts sketchy from that point on, but Dany still fights in the battle against the Night King and survives. She loses a good chunk of her army and her friend/advisor/protector, Ser Jorah Mormont. Still, she tries to make nice with the Northerners but they’re all like “ZOMG, Jon Snow rode a dragon for 3 seconds! He’s so rad!”

It only gets worse from there: Dany’s close friend and advisor Missandei is executed right before her eyes; Varys betrays her; Jon Snow keeps his distance. This all leads to a snap decision in the show’s penultimate episode: Dany attacks King’s Landing and burns thousands of innocent civilians alive in order to take the Iron Throne.
She *almost* gets there in the finale. With her enemies defeated, Dany tells her soldiers that the war on tyrants is just getting started. She imprisons Tyrion Lannister for betraying her, which causes her distant lover to become paranoid that she’ll eventually “Dracarys” his ass, too. So, Jon decides to meet with Dany in the Red Keep throne room, profess his undying support for her as Queen… and then stabs her.
It was a shocking moment that sent fans over the edge. Clarke wasn’t exactly overjoyed when she read the scene for the first time, either. She recalled:

“I cried. 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?'”

Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, didn’t make things easier for Clarke when the two flew to Belfast for the final season table read days later. Kit just so happened to be sitting next to his costar on the flight, and Clarke was desperate to discuss what happened between their two characters in the final episode.
But no discussion was possible, as Kit deliberately hadn’t yet read the scripts so he could experience the story for the first time at the table read. This made Clarke positively mad, as she recalled:

“This literally sums up Kit and I’s friendship. Boy! Would you? Seriously? You’re just not?…”

At the table read, Clarke sat across from Harington so she could “watch him compute all of this.” When they got to their final together, her costar, who also sat down with EW, recalled:

“I looked at Emilia and there was a moment of me realizing, ‘No, no…’

But Clarke nodded back, sadly, ‘Yes…’ She revealed:

“He was crying. And then it was kind of great him not having read it.”

Many shed tears as Dany’s dark turn played out on TV screens, with fans outraged over the show’s most loved hero turning into a destroyer of cities and one of the very tyrants she always prided herself on overthrowing.
Related: Counseling Offered For ‘Thrones’ Fans In Need Of Therapy After The Finale!
It was a sharp turn that many felt wasn’t appropriately set up during the short final season. But it’s a fate that the showrunners have been foreshadowing for years.
Even as Clarke looks back on filming previous seasons, she admits there were red flags when it came to how the directors wanted her to play specific scenes. She explained:

‘There’s a number of times I’ve been like: ‘Why are you giving me that note?’ So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.’

As for Dany’s emotional journey in the final season, Clarke admits there was plenty of mayhem to make her go from the Breaker of Chains to the Destroyer of King’s Landing. She broke it down:

‘She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn’t going to be something scuttling her greatest plans. 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.”

Moral of the story: the only man a girl can trust is her dragon.

Let’s not forget about the loss of Missandei. To that Clarke, said:

“There’s a number of turning points you see for Daenerys in the season, but that’s the biggest break. There’s nothing I will not do after losing Missandei and seeing the sacrifice she was prepared to make for her. That breaks her completely. There’s nothing left to making a tough choice.”

While some fans felt that Dany’s executing Varys was a bit much, Clarke said the Master of Whisperers had it coming:

“She f**king warned him last season. We love Varys. I love [actor Conleth Hill]. But he changes his colors as many times as he wants. She needs to know the people who are supporting her regardless. That was my only option, essentially, is what I mean.”

What about burying Cersei Lannister under the collapse of the Red Keep?

“With Cersei, it’s a complete no-brainer. Lady’s a crazy motherf**ker. She’s going down.”

Clearly, Clarke is Dany’s biggest supporter. Maybe it’s because the two are so intertwined? She explained:

“I have my own feelings [about the storyline] and it’s peppered with my feelings about myself. It’s gotten to that point now where you read [comments about] the character you [have to remind yourself], ‘They’re not talking about you, Emilia, they’re talking about the character.'”

Now that we know her true colors, every Daenerys scene will be viewed differently. Some fans have argued that George R.R. Martin’s seemingly heroic character was always designed to be the main villain of the series.
But Thronesco-executive producer Bryan Cogman doesn’t think it’s so black and white. While speaking to EW about Dany’s dark turn, he explained:

“I don’t know if she’s a villain. This is a tragedy. She’s a tragic figure in a very Shakespearean and Greek sense. When Jon asks Tyrion [in the finale] if they were wrong and Tyrion says, ‘Ask me again in 10 years,’ I think that’s valid.”

Tyrion actor Peter Dinklage might also need 10 years to decide if slaying Dany was the right call.
Revealing how the showrunners on set compared Dany’s dragon-bombing of King’s Landing to the U.S. dropping nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki to decisively end World War II in 1945, he explained:

“That’s what war is. Did we make the right choices in war? How much longer would [WWII] have gone on if we didn’t make horrible decisions? We love Daenerys. All the fans love Daenerys, and she’s doing these things for the greater good. ‘The greater good’ has been in the headlines lately… when freeing everyone for the greater good you’re going to hurt some innocents along the way, unfortunately.”

Harington, on the other hand, feels that Dany’s villainous turn was always obvious. He said of the finale’s fan reaction:

“I think it’s going to divide. But if you track her story all the way back, she does some terrible things. She crucifies people. She burns people alive. This has been building. So, we have to say to the audience: ‘You’re in denial about this woman as well. You knew something was wrong. You’re culpable, you cheered her on.'”

As for the ongoing criticism that the show is sexist due to its treatment of female characters, the male actor lamented:

“One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall. The justification is: Just because they’re women, why should they be the goodies? They’re the most interesting characters in the show. And that’s what Thrones has always done. You can’t just say the strong women are going to end up the good people. Dany is not a good person. It’s going to open up discussion but there’s nothing done in this show that isn’t truthful to the characters. And when have you ever seen a woman play a dictator?”

He also wanted to remind you that Dany’s tragedy was super hard on Jon Snow, too:

“This is the second woman he’s fallen in love with who dies in his arms and he cradles her in the same way. That’s an awful thing. In some ways, Jon did the same thing to [his Wilding lover] Ygritte by training the boy who kills her. This destroys Jon to do this.”

Clarke, however, doesn’t have much sympathy for Kit’s character. She said of Jon Snow:

“Um, he just doesn’t like women does he? He keeps f**king killing them. No. If I were to put myself in his shoes I’m not sure what else he could have done aside from … oh, I dunno, maybe having a discussion with me about it? Ask my opinion? Warn me? It’s like being in the middle of a phone call with your boyfriend and they just hang up and never call you again. ‘Oh, this great thing happened to me at work today hello?’ And that was 9 years ago…”

Emilia clearly sympathizes with her character — but does she agree with her? She revealed:

“You’re about to ask if me — as Emilia — disagreed with her at any point. It was a f**king struggle reading the scripts. What I was taught at drama school — and if you print this there will be drama school teachers going ‘that’s bulls**t,’ but here we go: I was told that your character is right. Your character makes a choice and you need to be right with that. An actor should never be afraid to look ugly. We have uglier sides to ourselves. And after 10 years of working on this show, it’s logical. Where else can she go? I tried to think what the ending will be. It’s not like she’s suddenly going to go, ‘Okay, I’m gonna put a kettle on and put cookies in the oven and we’ll just sit down and have a lovely time and pop a few kids out.’ That was never going to happen. She’s a Targaryen.”

She continued:

“I thought she was going to die. 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…”

She concluded:

“But having said all of the things I’ve just said… I stand by Daenerys. I stand by her! I can’t not.”

Long live the Mother of Dragons.
Do U stand by Daenerys after watching the GoT finale?
[Image via HBO]

Related Posts

May 20, 2019 09:51am PDT