Emilia Clarke Says She Thought She Was 'Dying' While Filming 'Game Of Thrones' After Brain Surgery

  • In a new interview with The New Yorker, Emilia Clarke opened up about how she felt filming Game of Thrones after brain surgery.
  • Emilia, now 32, had two brain aneurysms—one of which caused a stroke in 2011 when she was 24.
  • Emilia says there were days on set when she “thought [she] was dying.”

Chances are, you’re still reeling from Sunday’s final episode of Game of Thrones—and tbh, so is Daenerys Targaryen herself, Emilia Clarke.

But now, Emilia’s opening up even more to The New Yorker about what it was like to film such an intense series while healing from two separate brain surgeries.

Let’s back up a bit first: Emilia, now 32, revealed to The New Yorker back in March that she suffered two brain aneurysms while filming GoT—the first of which caused a stroke when she was just 24 years old and fresh out of season one.

Two years later, after filming the third season of GoT, she had a brain scan that revealed that another aneurysm she had had doubled in size—which called for another surgery. That one resulted in parts of her skull being replaced with titanium and a long hospital stay.

Clearly, recovering from surgeries (and dealing with ongoing health issues) can cause stress in anyone—but now, in her new Interview, Emilia reveals exactly what was going through her mind on the GoT set.


So my dear kind peeps at @newyorkermag asked me a few questions about my MOD experience and I answered as best I could…. link in bio for a few snippets on how it felt to wave goodbye to my extra limb.#modforlyfe @gameofthrones #endofanera #goodbyemylover

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“I just felt weak and consistently in this mode of ‘Please don’t fire me. Please, please don’t let me f*ck this up,'” she told The New Yorker. “Every day I would fight my own demons of thinking, ‘You’re sick, you can’t do this. You’re tired, give in. Stop.’ I just bulldozed through,” she said.

But while fighting those negative thoughts, Emilia also said she felt like she couldn’t give the role of Daenerys everything she had—which only worsened her feelings of guilt. “There were a couple of seasons where I just questioned everything and struggled through everything and felt a tremendous amount of guilt at not being able to fully inhabit this role of a lifetime,” she said. ” I had many friends who were still knocking on casting directors’ doors. It left me fatigued and exhausted and anxious and worried and fearful every day.”

Of course, Emilia’s thoughts were not match for what she was still going through physically. In her new interview, she also detailed one of the worst days for her on set, which involved super hot weather and a massive wig that made her days feel almost unbearable.

We had very long days, and I’m in this enormous wig over a bald cap glued on to my head,” she said. “You’re paranoid you’re going to die all the time, because you’ve had two brain hemorrhages.” Throughout filming, Emilia said she’d “feel incredibly faint and want to pass out. I got headaches and thought I was dying. But I just didn’t ever say anything.”


This is what it took not only to shoot ep5…but to watch it too!#🤯 @gameofthrones @hbo#soshockingitblewmywigoff #😳 #🤢

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While working on set in heat and around lots of people, Emilia said she was “just trying not to cry, just trying not to pass out, trying not to think I was going to die.” And while she tried to not let on, inside she felt like at any moment she may have another brain episode and actually not make it.

“In moments of extreme stress, my fear of dying was dialed up to a million,” she said. “There were many moments where I would just take one of my hair or makeup girls aside and just go, ‘I think I’m dying, and I’m not. Can you just hold my hand? Could you just look at me and tell me that I’m all right?’ And they would look at me like I was mad and try and help me breathe through it.”

So while respect for Daenerys might be at an all-time low following the series finale, respect for Emilia as an actress (and a human being, tbh) is higher than ever.

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