Emilia Clarke has revealed she was afraid of being fired from Game of Thrones after she suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2011.
Clarke, 36, played “Mother of Dragons” Daenerys Targaryen on the hit HBO adaptation of George R R Martin’s fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.
The British actor revealed she “was struck” by the bleed on the brain after filming the first season of the show, in a 2019 essay for The New Yorker.
Clarke described how she began to feel a “bad headache coming on” while she was getting ready to work out at a gym in north London “to relieve the stress” around the release ofThrones.
Soon after, the star collapsed and was taken to hospital.
“The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.” she wrote at the time.
In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the Me Before You star reflected on being diagnosed with the brain condition that turns fatal for a third of all patients, and how she feared it would cost her the part which eventually catapulted her to global fame.
“I wasn’t afraid of dying,” she said. “I was afraid of being fired!
“I decided: ‘This is not something that’s going to define me’. I never gave into any feeling of ‘Why me? This sucks’. I was just like – gotta get back on it,” the Emmy winner added.
Clarke also said she felt “very ashamed” and like she was “broken” after a routine operation to address a second bleed went horribly wrong, as she worried the show’s producers would see her as an “unreliable person that they’ve hired” for the job.
After the second surgery, Clarke experienced aphasia – a disorder that impacts a person’s ability to speak or understand speech – as she worried about the security of her job which “centred on language, on communication”.
“Without it, I was lost,” she wrote in the first-person essay.
Elsewhere in the new interview, Clarke admitted “I might have turned into a right old d***head” if she hadn’t had the brain haemorrhages, “thinking I was the bee’s knees, living in Hollywood”.
“I’m so much more aware of what’s happening, in the moment that it’s happening. I don’t worry about failure – I thrive on failure! If something goes wrong, I always think you can fix it. It hurts, it’s scary, but then you can do anything,” Clarke, who co-founded medical charity SameYou for survivors of brain injuries, added.