Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones finale’s shock twist: ‘I stand by Daenerys’

EW’s Exclusive: Behind the scenes of the final episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ with Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage and more.

Warning: This story contains major spoilers for the final episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.


Emilia Clarke read a paragraph in the final script for Game of Thrones.

She read it again and again. Seven times, she says, she read the words that revealed the devastating fate of Daenerys Targaryen, a character she’s portrayed on the HBO global phenomenon for nearly a decade.

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

It was October 2017. The actress had recently completed filming Solo: A Star Wars Story and had just returned to London following a brief vacation. She electronically received the scripts the moment she landed at Heathrow and recalls that she “completely flipped out,” turned to her traveling companion and said, “‘Oh my god! I gotta go! I gotta go!’ And they’re like, ‘You gotta get your bags!’”

Once at home, the actress prepared herself. “I got myself situated,” she says. “I got my cup of tea. I had to physically prepare the space and then begin reading them.”

Clarke swiped through pages: Daenerys arrives at Winterfell and Sansa doesn’t like her. She discovers Jon Snow is the true heir to the Iron Throne and isn’t thrilled. She fights in the battle against the Night King and survives, but loses longtime friend and protector Ser Jorah Mormont. Then her other close friend and advisor Missandei dies too. Varys betrays her. Jon Snow pulls away. Having lost half her army, two dragons, and nearly everybody she cares about, Daenerys goes full Tagaryen to win: She attacks King’s Landing and kills … thousands of civilians? Daenerys’ longtime conquest achieved, she meets with Jon Snow in the Red Keep throne room and … and then … then he …

“I cried,” Clarke says. “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?’”

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