Forget her successful post-Game Of Thrones acting career: Emilia Clarke is just grateful to be able to use her voice after suffering two life-threatening brain aneurysms while filming the show.
In an interview with BBC’s Sunday Morning, Clarke spoke candidly about her health troubles, and the difficult process of regaining her cognition with “quite a bit” of her brain missing. The actor said, what with the emergency surgeries she’s undergone, it is “remarkable” she still has the ability to speak.
“It was the most excruciating pain,” Clarke says of the aneurysm and subsequent recovery. “It was incredibly helpful to have Game of Thrones sweep me up and give me that purpose.”
The actor suffered her first aneurysm in 2011, just after she concluded filming the first season of Game Of Thrones. The second came two years later, in 2013. Both incidences required emergency hospitalization and lengthy recovery periods.
Clarke previously opened up about the aneurysms in a 2019 personal essay for The New Yorker, entitled “A Battle For My Life.” In the piece, Clarke discussed the experience publicly for the first time, recalling the terror and hopelessness she felt in the hospital wondering if she would ever act, or even converse, again.
“In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug,” she wrote. “I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.”
Today, thankfully, Clarke has proved all her initial anxieties wrong—she’s continued to nab television, film, and stage roles. Clarke is currently starring as Nina in a West End production of The Seagull, as well as gearing up for McCarthy, a Joe McCarthy biopic with Michael Shannon. But Clarke hasn’t left her medical struggles completely in the past—since her recovery, she’s made a mission of giving back to others who’ve suffered brain injuries or strokes through her charity, SameYou. If there’s one thing Daenerys Targaryen is going to do, it’s mother.