After Game of Thrones’ series finale aired on Sunday night, The New Yorker published an exclusive interview with Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who portrayed Daenerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons, on the show. Naturally, she had some thoughts on the ending of the series and her own character’s demise, and in the interview, she let it rip.
Clarke focused on how she portrayed a nuanced character capable of great violence and great mercy. “Every time I was faced with Daenerys having to do something pretty cold, like a mass killing, it was always with this thought that she’s headed toward her destiny,” she told The New Yorker. “She’s gone too far to turn back now.”
When she explained the pain her character felt after being betrayed by Jon, she also delved into the history of the character herself: one who has had so much loss. “So then she finally falls in love with someone who is her age, someone appropriate, who seems to love her back, who seems to be a good guy. The fact that she’s his aunt is just kind of by the by! And then it seems almost too good to be true. Even when she finally gets to relax for the first time, she’s thinking, My God, I can have it all. I can have my love. I can have my career. I can have the prospect of a family. I can have it all… But no! I fucking can’t.”
She also discusses the extreme estrangement Daenerys experiences when she travels to the North and discovers that her claim to the throne is not as straightforward as it is in the cities that she liberated on the other side of the narrow sea: “She’s not wanted. She’s not loved completely there. And so she gives herself to Jon [Snow] entirely, and she gives him many, many choices, many options to see clearly with open eyes. And she’s asking him, ‘If you wanted to be with me, then let me fulfill this. . . . I know I can be a good leader, so let’s do this together. Let’s do it.’ And he doesn’t. And that disappointment is the final thing that breaks her as a human being, because, my God, all she’s known is pain, sacrifice, and abuse. All she’s known is people turning on her, people betraying her, and she’s completely alone. And so, with all of that, I think that it brings us to the moment where she’s on top of the dragon and making that choice,” Clarke explains.
Clarke also talks about meeting Beyoncé, who is a fan of the show, at an Oscars after party and how much she wanted to not let one of her heroes down. She also felt the pain of not being able to reveal what was going to happen to Dany in the final season.
“And all I wanted to scream was ‘Please, please still like me even though my character turns into a mass-killing dictator,'” Clarke explained. “Please still think that I’m representing women in a really fabulous way.’ ”
And it’s true: from the beginning of the story until the end, Dany is sold, abused, betrayed, loses her husband, her baby, two dragons, her advisors, people who truly love her, and is spurned by her one true love, Jon Snow. The North doesn’t trust her, Jon’s sisters don’t trust her, her advisors are failing her and even trying to poison her out of existence. Clarke definitely feels for Dany. If you want to read more about Clarke worrying about what Beyoncé thinks of her now, her journey through two brain hemorrhages, or why she hates the title ‘Mad Queen,’ check out the article here.