Everyone and their mother knows Emilia Clarke thanks to her portrayal of the badass and remarkably resilient Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones. The once in a lifetime role propelled Clarke into the spotlight, but the world has only caught a glimpse of how talented she is. Clarke is ready to make bolder acting choices and shake things up, and her latest film role has laid out the groundwork for that quite nicely.
In Me Before You, which was adapted from Jojo Moyes' book of the same name, Clarke has shed every ounce of Daenerys. She plays wide-eyed Louisa “Lou” Clark, who is a bit of townie and has a seriously questionable wardrobe. After meeting Will (Sam Claflin), Lou becomes more daring and carefree, but the romance between these two doesn't follow the rampant cliches that plague so many romantic dramas.
We sat down with the sweet-tempered actress for a one-on-one interview and chatted about her love for Meg Ryan, Jon Snow's resurrection, and why Daenerys is a game-changing hero. Clarke also shared some hilarious anecdotes during a game of Would You Rather, and solidified her place as one of the coolest people on the planet.
The idea of carpe diem and living life to the fullest is a major part of Me Before You. What are some of the things that are on your bucket list?
Well, I love traveling so I've got crazy stuff on my bucket list. I get very bloody-minded about stuff. When I say I'm going to do something, like by hook or by crook, I'm going to do it. So I want to go to Machu Pichu in Peru; I want to go to the North Pole. I want to skydive eventually. There's loads of really adventure-based things on my list.
Let's say that Lou was on an online dating website. How would she describe herself in her profile?
It would start off with something like “A lover of tea and clothes. Likes a giggle and a pint.” [laughs]
Lou has a very eccentric fashion sense. Did you have any input in selecting her wardrobe items?
Yeah, kind of. Jill, the costume designer, was amazing and sourced all of this material. There about 9 rails in a huge room, and it was just like shopping. Like high street shopping. We'd just go in and be like “What about this and this?” So by the end of it, both of us kind of decided on the outfits. Jill also sowed pockets in all of my costumes.
Because every time I put on a skirt or a dress, I'd be like “Oh, there aren't any pockets.” I'd look for them.
What or who was the inspiration for Lou's wardrobe?
For me, it was like I feel like I know this girl and it was particularly British. We tried on so much stuff, and the studio was like “What? No! Americans will not understand that. Take it off and do the hair differently. What are you doing?” Yeah, that was very funny.
What was your favorite behind-the-scenes moment on the set of Me Before You?
Oh my god! There were too many to count. Sam and I played loads of pranks on each other. He once took all the furniture out of my dressing room. Like all of it.
I don't know! The only thing that was left was the toilet! That was the only thing that stayed in the room. He took the desk, the two sofas, the chairs, and the fridge. So then I put fish in his socks.
Ew, like raw fish?
No, it was cooked fish from lunch. He never forgave me.
Have you always been a fan of rom-coms? If so, which one is your favorite?
I am! I love rom-coms. My favorite is When Harry Met Sally. It's a classic, but I'm also a fan of the golden oldies like Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison. . .Oh, but you also can't go wrong with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks! My mom and I watch You've Got Mail all the time. I know the whole script!
What's your favorite scene?
BRINKLEY! And “I was hoping it would be you” [referring to the climactic scene in You've Got Mail]. I literally know the whole movie by heart. It just makes me feel happy thinking about You've Got Mail. I love Meg Ryan. Like, I love her so much.
Charles Dance plays Steven Traynor in Me Before You, and he also portrayed Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones. You two never shared any scenes on the show, but you got to actually share scenes in Me Before You. What was it like having a mini Game of Thrones reunion?
We had so many nice moments in the movie! Good old Charlie and I never acted together on Game of Thrones. We barely met, but I literally had one of my proudest moments on the set of Me Before You ― it was making Charles Dance crack up so much that he couldn't maintain his composure.
What did you say to him?
It was the scene where Lou's skirt rips, and he just couldn't continue. And I was just like “Yes!” [laughs and throws a fist bump]
Daenerys seems to be getting her confidence back on Game of Thrones. Can you tell fans what they can expect from the Mother of Dragons this season?
She's just becoming more of a badass. She's hardening up, and she means business. Daenerys has been saying that she is going to get the Iron Throne, and something has just switched in her mind and she's like “No, that throne's mine. I'm getting it.”
When did you figure out that Jon Snow was alive and were you happy that he was resurrected?
Yes! Jesus Christ, it killed me [when Jon Snow died]. So I read the Season 5 script and thought “You can't do that!” Kit kept it straight the whole time. He was like, “Babes, I'm dead. I'm dead.” But I was just thinking you can't do that! You can't leave. So then I asked Kit what he got for his wrap gift, and he told me that they hadn't gotten him anything. That's when I knew. I was like “You're not dead! You're not dead! You can't be. You didn't get a wrap gift and you've been on the show too long.”
Daenerys is a fierce and unparalleled leader on Game of Thrones, especially in the way she transcends gender expectations. Do you think the show incorporates and furthers a feminist dialogue through your character?
I would love for that to be the goal. . .There's space for people to perceive her in whatever way they want, and I think that's a beautiful thing. For me, it's better if they see her as someone who's strong. That's how I want to play her. I want to empower people with that role.
And Now a Round of Would You Rather Featuring Emilia Clarke
Would you rather have Lou's wardrobe or Daenerys Targaryen's?
Would you rather be Justin Bieber's assistant or Beyonce's bodyguard?
[Gasps] Oh! Beyonce's bodyguard. I'm all about protecting Bey! I feel like I'm always intrinsically protecting Bey...I can't stop listening to Lemonade. It's so good.
Would you rather be a dragon or raise a dragon?
Wow, I think I'd rather be a dragon.
Would you rather be a superhero or a super-villain?
Superhero. . .so someone asked me who my favorite superhero was on Twitter, and I said Inspector Gadget [laughs hysterically]. I know he's not a superhero, but he's got go-go-gadget arms! You'll never need to get up off the couch. You can just get shit out of the fridge.
Would you rather spend the day with Queen Elizabeth II or Barack Obama?
Oh, dude! That's so hard. I think I have to go with Queen Elizabeth...[whispers] Although I would secretly prefer to hang out with Obama ― but it's so unpatriotic.
Would you rather shave your head or shave your eyebrows?
Head! For real. I ain't getting rid of these [points to her eyebrows]. This is my pot of gold right here, honey. People would never understand what I was going on about if I shaved of my eyebrows. I would look so sad. Oh, and when you shave off someone's eyebrows ― and I know this because my friends did it to one of our friends when he was drunk ― it looks like you have a wig on [laughs hysterically]. It took so long for his eyebrows to grow back.
Would you rather give birth to a shadow baby or be related to Ramsay Bolton?
A shadow baby! That dude is messed up.
Would you rather be haunted by a ghost or be abducted by aliens?
Abducted by aliens because the ghost thing genuinely freaks me out. Even you saying that [looks over her shoulder], I'm just like: “Who's there?”
Would you rather time travel to the past or to the future?
Oh, the past. I don't want to spoil what's going to come up, and there are some moments that I'd like to revisit.
Would you rather be trapped inside of Jurassic Park or the world of Jumanji?
Jumanji! Wait, no. I love Jumanji, but that's really hard. Okay, Jumanji because there's the chance of closing the board. With Jurassic Park, you're definitely going to get eaten.