In a candid interview with Dax Shepard on his podcast, Armchair Expert, actress Emilia Clarke revealed that she bowed to pressure from directors to perform a number of nude scenes in the first season of Game of Thrones.
The hit HBO drama series adapted from George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, is famous for its graphic depictions of sexuality, gore and violence. EW reports that there were 19 scenes featuring nudity in the show’s first season. The directors told the actress, who played Daenerys Targaryen for the 73-episode run of the epic fantasy series, that if she refused to do the nude scenes, she would “disappoint fans.” At the time of filming, Clarke was 23 years old.
Emilia, now 33, said that there was conflict on set with the production team due to her reluctance to perform nude.
“I’ve had fights on set before where I’m like, ‘No, the sheet stays up’, and they’re like, ‘You don’t wanna disappoint your ‘Game of Thrones’ fans’. And I’m like, ‘F*ck you’.”
The British actress chalks her reluctance to speak up early in her Game of Thrones career to inexperience and imposter syndrome. She recounts feeling such a sense of discomfort at the prospect of doing the scenes that she would routinely excuse herself from set to cry in the bathroom.
“Regardless of whether there’d be nudity or not, I would have spent that first season thinking, I’m not worthy of requiring anything; I’m not worthy of needing anything at all.”
When asked how she managed to get through it, Clarke mentioned the support and companionship of Jason Momoa, who starred alongside her as her husband and leader of the Dothraki, Khal Drogo. Fans of Game of Thrones will remember a particularly graphic sex scene between the two actors where Khal Drogo sexually assaults an unconsenting Daenerys on their wedding night.
“Jason had experience, he had done a bunch of stuff before coming on to this, he was like, ‘Sweetie, this is how it’s meant to be and this is how it’s not meant to be, and I’m going to make sure that’s the f*cking case.'”
Fans took to Twitter to express their love for the actress.
I just spent two hours listening the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast bc I was sad & Emilia Clarke was the guest for this episode and now I feel better I really love that woman ????????????????????????
— ???????????????? (@Dorkie_dani) November 19, 2019
Emilia Clarke on Armchair Expert was the most perfect podcast interview ????
— Matt (@mattd821) November 18, 2019
When asked how she feels about this now, Clarke mentioned that she is “much more savvy” and able to advocate for herself. When she was approached to star in Fifty Shades of Grey, she turned down the role because she was exhausted by the industry’s fixation that she appear naked and sexualized on screen.
Onscreen nudity continues to weigh heavily on her, and how it can impact her acting career.
“It brings into the question: What it is like being under the gaze of people you’ll never meet and will never know?”