Emilia Clarke Says ‘I Really Have’ Made Peace with ‘Thrones’ Finale: ‘I Get Why People Are Pissed’

As for the upcoming HBO spinoff series, Clarke said it's "very surreal" to see new Targaryen characters in the flesh.
Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke, "Game of Thrones"

Emilia Clarke did not hide her disappointment with the “Game of Thrones” finale, telling The Sunday Times last year she was annoyed the series prioritized set pieces over dialogue scenes and character work. The actress also admitted she struggled to come to terms with the killing of her character, Daenerys Targaryen, in the finale after she had gone mad with power. Now here we are over two years after the “Thrones” finale aired, and Clarke is more at peace with her career-defining franchise. Asked by The Hollywood Reporter if she’s made peace with “Thrones,” the actress answered, “I really have. I really, really, really have.”

“I think it’ll take me to my 90s to be able to objectively see what ‘Game of Thrones’ was, because there’s just too much me in it,” Clarke said. “I have too many emotional reactions for what Emilia, herself, was experiencing at that moment in time when we were filming it. You know what I mean? I watch a scene and I go, ‘Oh, that was when [such and such] happened,’ which you didn’t see on screen. And I think there’s something timely about the prequels and the continuation of the ‘Game of Thrones’ story coming about now. I look at it and I’m like, ‘Wow, yeah.’ So I see it with only peace.”

Clarke added, “I’m still friends with people from the show, and I know I will be friends with these people until the day I die. So it’s had a lasting impact on my life, and it starts to become, like, ‘Hey guys, remember when we were in college? Hey, remember the fourth grade?’ Daenerys has a part of my heart. She is in there, and I’ll never forget. I can’t remember who I was talking to, but they were like, ‘Oh my God, when you say ‘she,’ you’re talking about Daenerys.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah! Because she’s a whole person. She’s got her own life that I explore.’ So I think that there’s the show, the impact of the show, the impact of the show on me, personally and professionally, and the zeitgeist-iness of it. And then there’s Daenerys. So that’s my own private little space that I don’t need to make peace with because it’s just a beautiful memory. It’s just a beautiful memory.”

While Clarke is at peace with “Thrones,” she can still see why the series finale and the decision to turn Daenerys into a villain in such a rushed manner rubbed many fans the wrong way. As Clarke told MTV this week, “I get why people are pissed. I totally get it. But, me being the actor, you can’t do justice to the character that you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into for a decade without getting on the same page. So like, I’m not just going to be there being like, ‘Fine, I’ll do the scene, whatever. I’m so pissed.’ You have to turn up.”

Clarke’s “Game of Thrones” days are behind her, but fans will get the chance to dive into the history of Daenerys’ family lineage with the upcoming prequel series “House of the Dragon.” HBO unveiled a first look at the show’s cast in character at the start of May, and Clarke called it “very surreal” to see a whole new batch of Targaryens.

“I’ve been prepped for this because Miguel [Sapochnik], who’s the co-showrunner, is a really dear friend of mine,” Clarke told THR. “So I’ve been chatting to him about it for a while. So I was prepped. But yeah, it’s crazy! Those pictures came out and I was like, “Whoa! Whoa!” I was on my own last time. I didn’t know I had pals. (Laughs.) I could’ve had a bunch of friends to hang out with, but yes, it’s mildly surreal to be seeing all of that again. But good luck to them is what I would say. I really mean that.”

“Game of Thrones” is streaming in its entirety on HBO Max. “House of the Dragon” won’t debut until 2022.

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