SHE has faced a barrage of abuse, been plastered all over porn sites and risked being typecast in nude roles.
But Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke says she doesn’t regret stripping off for the epic fantasy series that turned her into an overnight success.
In an interview to mark the start of the drama’s final season next month, the 32-year-old said:
“There’s not one part of the show that I would go back and redo.
“People ask me the nudity question all the time. But the short answer is no, I would never change anything.
“You had to see those sex scenes, as they couldn’t just be explained.”
As platinum-blonde Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Emilia was handed more nude scenes than any other actress in season one and had the starring role in one of the most memorable — a lesbian romp that is still talked about eight years after it aired.
As the Sky Atlantic drama’s popularity soared so did Emilia’s bank balance, with producers reportedly paying the actress £5million a season.
But fame came at a price, as her constant on-screen nudity led to a backlash as well as attention from porn sites, which started posting her sex scenes online.
So-called feminists again called out Emilia for a scene in series six where Daenerys emerges from a fire with her clothes burned off.
But she hit back: “I just wanted to come out and do an empowered scene that wasn’t sexual — it was naked, but it was strong.
“I get a lot of crap for having done nude scenes and sex scenes. That, in itself, is so anti-feminist.
“Women hating on other women is just the problem. That’s upsetting.”
She has also defended the show’s sexual themes, pointing out other TV dramas, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, flash a similar amount of flesh.
She said: “That is all sex and nudity. There are so many shows centred around this very true fact that people reproduce.
“People f*** for pleasure — it’s part of life.”
But Emilia did turn down the role of Anastasia Steele in 2015’s racy Fifty Shades Of Grey movie.
She said: “There is a huge amount of nudity in the film.
“I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”
London-born Emilia grew up with her older brother in Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Mum was a marketing manager, while Dad was a theatre sound engineer — which helped spark her love of acting.
She had only a handful of television commercials under her belt — including one for the Samaritans — when she replaced Brit actress Tamzin Merchant, 32, as Daenerys following the pilot epsiode.
For Emilia, the drama was a baptism of fire with scenes of gruesome battles, bloody murders and outlandish sex scenes including incest.
One of the most shocking was in the first episode when her character was raped by her warlord husband Khal Drogo, played by Jason Momoa, during their arranged marriage.
The epic about noble dynasties competing to rule has become the most-watched series in the world, with 31million tuning in for each episode by the end of season seven.
It turned Emilia into a sex symbol and she was named Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015, but she found the success overwhelming.
The natural brunette credits her blonde wig for stopping fans from recognising her off-set — for the first few seasons, at least.
She said: “I do get recognised more now. Sometimes you walk down the street and someone is like, ‘Wah’.
“I do feel very guarded about my anonymity. You know, I like going to the butcher’s and having a chat and it being a normal thing.
“I like human interaction. I value it, I appreciate it. It’s what makes me feel happy.
“So when that is taken away with someone looking at you in a different guise, it can be incredibly difficult. It can be anxiety inducing.”
She adds of her worldwide fame: “I never Google myself. I never read anything about the show online.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.
“I do not find it helpful for my mental health.”
But there are many perks to the job . . . such as Emilia’s childhood idol Brad Pitt bidding to watch an episode of Game Of Thrones with her at a charity auction last year.
She said: “I literally was like, ‘This is not even happening — this is some crazy dream and I’m going to wake up 12 years old thinking what a good dream it was’.
The auction got up to some high numbers and there was Brad Pitt leaning back in his chair and waving his hand to bid for me. It was incredible.”
Sadly Brad’s £90,000 wasn’t enough. Emilia proved so popular that the anonymous auction winner had to stump up £120,000.
The eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones starts on April 14 and while cast and crew are sworn to secrecy about its ending, bookies are already taking bets on who will get killed off.
BetVictor is currently offering odds of 1/3 that Daenerys will perish before the curtain comes down.
Emilia refuses to comment on her character’s fate but does reveal she tried to give a speech after shooting her final scene. She says: “It was super-emotional. I started to say something and just literally couldn’t get through the first sentence without bawling my eyes out.
“My brother, who is in the crew, was recording it and I heard it back and I was like, ‘Oh my God, you can’t hear anything I’m saying, I’m crying too much’.”
Emilia feels the fantasy drama has “opened a lot of doors” that would have otherwise been shut for her.
She hopes to make further strides in Hollywood now this chapter has closed, but says of Game Of Thrones: “It’s the single most defining thing that has happened in my life.
“It took me from being a child to being an adult.
“And it’s magic.”
Screen sex scenes
I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes. Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.
I never Google myself or read anything on the show. It’s not helpful for my mental health.
On shooting final scene
It was super-emotional. I couldn’t get through my speech without bawling my eyes out.
On the show
It’s the most defining thing in my life. It took me from being a child to being an adult.
- 31m viewers
- 29 nude scenes in the first season
- £6m cost per episode
- £750m annual revenue
- £5m pay of top five stars
- 170 countries see it
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