[Editors’ note: The following post contains spoilers for the “Game of Thrones” series finale, “The Iron Throne.”]
As many fans expected following Daenerys Targaryen’s dark turn in the series’ penultimate episode, “Game of Thrones” ended with the once beloved dragon queen murdered at the hands of her former lover and nephew, Jon Snow. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly about the finale, Emilia Clarke said she had no idea Dany’s transformation into the Mad Queen was in store for her character. Clarke read the Season 8 scripts and was left speechless.
“What, what, what, WHAT!?” Clarke said about how she reacted to Dany’s death. “Because it comes out of fucking nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming. 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?’”
Clarke was so emotional about Dany’s turn to the dark side that she called her family for reassurance, even though she was prohibited from telling them anything about what happens to her character. “I called my mom and [told her], ‘I read the scripts and I don’t want to tell you what happens but can you just talk me off this ledge? It really messed me up,’” the actress said. “And then I asked my mom and brother really weird questions. They were like: ‘What are you asking us this for? What do you mean do I think Daenerys is a good person? Why are you asking us that question? Why do you care what people think of Daenerys? Are you okay?’”
The seeds for Dany’s descent had been placed throughout the run of the show, whether Clarke realized it or not. The actress said throughout the series’ run the showrunners would give her notes on certain scenes and tell her not to play them so heroically. “There’s a number of times I’ve been like: ‘Why are you giving me that note?’” Clarke said. “So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.”
Clarke said she “stands by” Dany’s fate, as Season 8 events such as the Stark family rejecting her at Winterfell and Missandei’s execution all pushed her character to a breaking point. But just because Clarke could understand the logic behind Dany’s arc doesn’t mean it was easy to process. As the actress said, “It was a fucking struggle reading the scripts.”
One thing Clarke disagrees with is the notion that Dany is a “Mad Queen.” In an interview with The New Yorker, Clarke said she does not enjoy fans calling her character “the Mad Queen” because what’s actually happening is that Dany is “so far gone in grief, in trauma, and in pain. And yet our brains are fascinating in the way that they find a fast route to feel O.K., whether you’re relying on a substance or you’re mildly deluded.”
Clarke also told The New Yorker about what she would have changed in the show’s final season: “I would’ve loved some more scenes with me and Missandei. I would’ve loved some more scenes with me and Cersei. I would’ve loved some more scenes between Grey Worm and Missandei.”
The actress continued, “I would’ve loved to see a bit more between Cersei [and Dany]. The genocide was there. That was always going to happen. And I just think more dissection and those beautifully written scenes that the boys have between characters — that we are more than happy to contently sit there and watch ten minutes of two people talking, because it’s beautiful. I just wanted to see a bit more of that. But I’m in no position to critique the geniuses that have written eight seasons’ worth of wonderful stuff.”
The entirety of “Game of Thrones” is now available to stream on HBO Now and HBO Go.