The last time we saw Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Season 5 of “Game of Thrones,” things didn’t look good for the Queen of Meereen: she was being overtaken by a horde of Dothraki. Now, on the cusp of the April 24 premiere of the HBO masterpiece’s sixth season, Emilia Clarke offers a few cryptic hints about what’s in store.
What’s in store for Daenerys this season?
Oh, a lot’s happened this next season! Every season’s really difficult as to the anticipation of what’s going to come out. I say this every season, but I mean it more than ever this time, this is the biggest thing. I’m going to be surprised if people’s televisions don’t explode, like actually explode or computers have to be pushed aside. It’s huge, it’s ridiculously huge. I remember reading the scripts and being like, “So, everything we’ve ever managed to do in one entire season, we’re like doubling and putting into Season 6?” It’s astonishing. It’s really, truly astonishing how much work has been done out of one season. It’s the biggest, baddest season so far, for sure.
How did it feel going into this season where there are no more books to follow? Did it feel different for you as an actor?
I think everyone was like, “What’s going to happen?” We’ve all known and now we don’t know what’s going to go on. From day one [showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff] make everyone feel confident. They keep things from us in a good way. I can be like, “Guys, let’s go for a drink.” Three drinks in, I’ll be like, “So, does Daenerys die or does she win?” They don’t want to tell me. They’ll joke about it but they won’t ever tell you. There’s a beautiful thing about them really kind of making sure that the actor’s getting what they need and not knowing too much.
Coming into this season, there was even more of that. It’s kind of exciting. The whole cast gets sent the scripts ahead of filming, so let’s say we start filming in June. At the end of May, we’ll all get the script. We’re all texting each other saying, “Oh my God.” There’s a big moment when you get your script. This season was epic with that one. Everyone was much more like, “What is going to happen?” It just means that there’s even more fairy dust in the air.
I think they’ve done pretty well so far with the books, so I’m confident that the people, the fans aren’t going to be disappointed, that much is certain.
What’s your relationship with them on set?
They are one of the few continuous presences on set. They are literally there every day. Every day that they can be there, they are there for someone, for one character or another. They are on set making sure that you’re okay, making sure that everything is cool, cracking jokes, keeping the environment relaxed and fun… because they keep killing everyone. In the current script you’re reading, you make friends and they die. Then you make friends, and they die.
Dan and Dave are my closest mates on set. I totally consider them my friends. They are always trying to set me up with someone. It’s the funniest thing. I’m always like, “Can we talk about the characters?” And they’re like, “We’ve got this new guy for you. We think he’d be really good for you.” It’s just magic, working with them. They’re so full of life and funny. You see it in the writing. You have to be incredibly intelligent to be that funny.
I think there’s just that secret rule at “Game of Thrones” that’s the No Asshole Rule. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but there aren’t any assholes who work on our show. There just aren’t any in any department, in any cast. You have to be this nice, cool, funny, intelligent person to work on the show. I think they set the precedent because it happens from the top down. They set the tone for everyone, even if you wanted to be an asshole. You just couldn’t. It wouldn’t be allowed.
How do you work with them if you have a question about a scene or a line?
That’s the joy as well. When you have such a good relationship with them straight off, where you can be cracking a joke or talking about your dating life, then within a second, they turn into awesome professionals with an absolute answer that makes you feel involved, makes me feel a part of the collaborative process. They are really being so true to the characters in the book, but they are also being so true to the actress that I am. It doesn’t feel like someone’s just written something and handed it to you. You feel a part of the process. They have this thing where they’re not precious about it.
They write so well. They have absolutely spoiled me rotten for reading any other kind of script because they’re so good at what they do. You get spoiled. You don’t get to read that caliber of writing all the time, reading other scripts. It’s so sweet because they always crack each other up. They’re best mates, and you feel it. They really like each other and we all really love them. When you’re doing the biggest battles on television, and killing people and blood and guts and boobs and fires and dragons, the heart of it needs to be two best friends, having the time of their lives, writing a show that people love to watch. That’s how it has to be for it to be as epic as it is. It’s very un-epic on set, which is what you want on a set. You don’t want drama, even if you are creating it.
Does the pressure feel more heightened going into this season given that it’s off book, given that you just won the Emmy and then given all the attention about Jon Snow?
I think there is a lot more pressure going into this season, for sure. When we were actually following the books, there’s a big thing about, “Did they leave anything out? Did we leave anything out? Did we do it well? Is that what you thought we wanted to do?” When you’re dealing with a book, you’re dealing with people’s imaginations. There’s no hope, shot in hell that you will ever, taking a book to screen, going to make everyone happy. How could you compete with 5 million different people’s imaginations? Every season has this much intensity.
The Jon Snow aspect of it all, people are always asking what’s going to happen with the next season. I’m always like, “I can’t tell you because a sniper will come out of the bushes and shoot me down if I even try.” Which means that this season is about to get more intense. You’re like, “No way, I’ll get fired. I can’t tell you.” That’s what it is.
What did the Emmy win mean to you?
It meant everything, but I’ll tell you what. The one Emmy that I wanted for us more than anything, I’ve been saying it for so long, is writing. They are so skilled and they take this subject matter and they make it so beautiful, and so complex, and so relatable, and so current. You know when you see something that’s so good, you can’t see the complexity in how difficult it is to make it that good, because it looks so easy? Sometimes I think that’s what happens with their writing. I think people can underestimate its power. That was the one I was most happy for, to see their little faces, finally… It’s just so well deserved. Good things happening to good people is a good thing.
How much longer do you want to see the show go on?
I would like to see it go on as long as it’s needed. I think that’s something they’re very aware of and we are all are very aware of, is to finish on a high and to do the story justice, which isn’t doing a million of them. It’s doing just the right amount to keep people happy and satisfied, but not like, “Eh, we can watch something else now.” Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and so does “Game of Thrones.” I don’t know when our end will be, but it won’t be ten years from now.