Ahead of next month’s long-awaited premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones, a member of that show’s cast has gone public with a past health crisis — one that required multiple brain surgeries.
Emilia Clarke, who plays “Mother of Dragons” Daenerys Targaryen on the popular HBO fantasy series, writes in The New Yorker that she has suffered a pair of brain aneurysms — including one right after the filming of Game of Thrones‘ first season.
Clarke writes that she suffered the first aneurysm while working out with a trainer, shortly after the show’s first season wrapped, in 2011.
“I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain… I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
The actress was taken to a hospital, where an MRI revealed that she had suffered an an arterial rupture, the kind of incident that kills many people who suffer it. Clarke later underwent brain surgery. After the surgery, she suffered a condition called aphasia, which she feared would affect her speech — and therefor her ability to act.
However, the condition cleared up just in time for Clarke to return to the set of Game of Thrones for the second season. Word of Clarke’s condition never reached the media, even though Thrones is among the most closely scrutinized shows in the world.
In 2011, just as "Game of Thrones" was about to become a worldwide phenomenon, Emilia Clarke faced the first of two life-threatening brain aneurysms. Clarke tells her story for the first time: https://t.co/WeyFgn9CuL pic.twitter.com/C8eoFtfIx6
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) March 21, 2019
Another aneurysm had been found on the other side of Clarke’s brain following the first one, and she underwent another surgery following the show’s third season. Following the recovery from her second surgery, one which left a huge scar on her head, Clarke suffered a major headache while attending the San Diego Comic-Con.
However, Clarke has not suffered any such health episodes since.
“In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred per cent,” Clarke wrote. She has launched a charity called SameYou to help those dealing with strokes and other brain injuries.
In addition to her work on Game of Thrones, Clarke has starred in movies, including Solo: A Star Wars Story.