While landing the leading role of Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones” was a life-changing moment for Emilia Clarke, her first year on set was also when the actress survived two brain aneurysms.
“The show happened throughout all my 20s, which is when you should be wild, and then I had a couple brain hemorrhages so that got in a way of a few things,” Clarke told Regina Hall during their Actors on Actors interview.
The British actress, whose life on set was marked by frequent hospital trips, morphine phases and memory-obstructing symptoms, says she used the show as a distraction from her traumatic health issues.
“I always say Daenerys literally saved my life,” Clarke said. “Because it puts you in quite a headspace when you’ve had a brain injury. So walking in her shoes, I just put so much more into each season because it really was life or death and I felt so powerfully that she was saving me that it kind of was like, I couldn’t see anything else — I could only see the show, I could only see her.”
“So that was my single point of focus that allowed me to not think about anything scarier other than being on set,” she continued.
Ahead of the series finale, Clarke wrote a guest column for the New Yorker outlining her tumultuous medical history, which she had kept private throughout the show’s first few seasons.
“In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug,” she wrote. “I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job — my entire dream of what my life would be — centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.”