Emilia Clarke Says Playing Daenerys Targaryen ‘Literally Saved My Life’

Emilia Clarke attends the Time 100 Gala in New York City
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

In addition to being a huge success with a devoted fanbase, Game of Thrones was a series that launched several actors’ careers. Some, like Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, did not have any roles prior to the show. Others, like Emilia Clarke, simply hadn’t gotten their big break yet. While she’s had roles in a few other projects, many still identify Clarke with her character, Daenerys Targaryen — and apparently, the character had a huge impact on the actress.

As PopCrush reports, Clarke discussed her character with Variety and gave Daenerys credit for helping her get through her health challenges — namely, the two serious brain aneurysms she recently revealed she experienced in the early seasons of the show.

“I always say that Daenerys literally saved my life because it puts you in quite the headspace when you’ve had a brain injury. Walking in her shoes, I just put so much more into each season because it really was life or death…I felt so powerfully that she was saving me. I could only see her. That was my single point of focus that allowed me to not think about anything scarier than just getting on set.”

Over the course of the show, Clarke’s character certainly evolved — and it seems that the English actress herself was evolving right alongside Dany.

Given the roles Clarke has had outside of Game of Thrones in her acting career, it’s difficult to predict the direction she’ll go in next. She’s appeared in a few sci-fi and fantasy projects, such as Terminator Genisys and Solo: A Star Wars Story. However, she’s also gone the romantic comedy route, appearing in the highly anticipated Me Before You, a movie which was based on a hugely popular book by author JoJo Moyes.

Whatever roles she decides to tackle next, one thing is for sure — she will likely not be stripping down again as she did in the first season of Game of Thrones.

People reported that Clarke has made some major career decisions, such as turning down the lead role in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, simply because she didn’t want to deal with stripping on screen again.

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“The last time that I was naked on camera on [Game of Thrones] was a long time ago, and yet it is the only question that I ever get asked because I am a woman,” she said.

At just 32-years-old, Emilia Clarke’s career is truly just getting started. She didn’t have many credits under her belt when she was cast as Daenerys Targaryen, but now that she’s stunned audiences with her portrayal of the character, it’ll likely be far easier to get a spot in the audition rooms than it was before.