Spoilers ahead for the final episode of ‘Game of Thrones’.
It wasn’t just fans who were stunned by Daenerys Targaryen’s rapid transition from change-maker to Mad Queen in the eighth season of Game of Thrones. Emilia Clarke, who played the Mother of Dragons in the HBO series, was similarly surprised by the fan favourite’s fall from grace “...it comes out of f—king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming,” Clarke told Entertainment Weekly about her reaction when she received the script.
Clarke recalled going over the series of setbacks for her character in the concluding season of the HBO series – her hostile reception at the Stark castle of Winterfell, the deaths of her aides Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), and her eventual death at the hands of her lover, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), in the finale that was aired on Monday morning in India.
“I cried,” Clarke told the American publication. “I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours. I’m like, ‘How am I going to do this?’”
The death of her confidante, Missandei, in The Last of the Starks, the final season’s fourth episode, was breaking point for Daenerys, Clarke said. “That breaks her completely,” she added. “There’s nothing left to making a tough choice.”
After playing Daenerys for eight years, Clarke was so emotionally invested that she couldn’t separate herself from the character, she said. She recalled calling her mother and asking her if she thought Daenerys was a good person. While reading comments about Daenerys, she had to remind herself, “They’re not talking about you, Emilia, they’re talking about the character.”
Clarke, however, maintained that she was still on Team Daenerys. “Having said all of the things I’ve just said...I stand by Daenerys. I stand by her! I can’t not,” she elaborated.
Executive producer Bryan Cogman said that behind the scenes too, Daenerys’s death was difficult to come to terms with and described her as a Shakespearean “tragic figure” rather than a villain. “It’s emotionally very challenging. It’s designed to not feel good,” he elaborated. “This is the kind of story that’s meant to unsettle you and challenge you and make you think and question.”
Emilia Clarke will next be seen in the romantic comedy Last Christmas, directed by Paul Feig. The film is scheduled for a November 8 release. She will also star in Philip Noyce’s upcoming film Above Suspicion alongside Jack Huston.