‘Game of Thrones’: Emilia Clarke Reveals Her Heartbreaking Reaction to the Final Script

It’s truly no secret that the final season of HBO’s long-running fantasy series Game of Thrones was incredibly divisive. After millions of viewers waited so long to see the show’s conclusion, many were thrown off by the show’s unexpected ending and plot twists. Even some of the show’s cast members were utterly confused and upset with the ending of Game of Thrones. Kit Harington himself, who plays the brooding Jon Snow, referred to the final season as “disappointing.”

Many fans felt that the character Daenerys Targaryen, in particular, was given a pretty bleak fate considering that the mother of dragons herself was the underdog of the story and the hero that many fans were rooting for since the first episode. Actress Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, had an especially heart-wrenching initial reaction after she learned about the show’s finale.

*This article will contain spoilers for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke | HBO

The tragic fate of Daenerys Targaryen

Protector of the realm. Breaker of chains. Mother of dragons. Khaleesi. Mhysa. These are a handful of the many titles given to Daenerys Targaryen, a young woman fighting for her supposed rightful place on the Iron Throne. Since the beginning of the show, Daenerys has had that one goal in mind, a goal that kept her standing through immense suffering and trauma.

In the final season, Daenerys quickly deteriorated from the idealistic, beloved hero fans fell in love with and transformed into a cold, broken killer of innocents. Driven mad by the deaths of her closest allies Missandei and Jorah Mormont as well as the betrayal of Lord Varys, Daenerys’ mental state snaps after she is pushed away by her lover and nephew, Jon Snow, who also happens to be the true heir to the throne. In an act of violent madness, Daenerys burns down the entire city of King’s Landing, killing masses of civilians even after the city surrendered to her forces.

After the bloodshed, Jon Snow finds Daenerys completely unfazed by her actions and the aftermath. Instead, she delivers a chilling speech and announces her plans to “liberate” the other lands of Westeros until the entire world is free from the evil she ironically seeks to eradicate. To save the realm from a seemingly growing tyrant, Jon Snow stabs Daenerys in the stomach and she dies. As punishment for his actions, Jon Snow is sent back over The Wall to serve in the Night’s Watch.

Emilia Clarke cried and wandered aimlessly after reading the script

Emilia Clarke read the fate of Daenerys exactly seven times and still couldn’t believe her eyes. The character she represented for almost a decade had changed so drastically right before her eyes. Daenerys’ fate was absolutely devastating to Clarke. She reportedly went on a long, dazed walk through the streets of London. “I cried,” Clarke admitted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “And I went for a walk. I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours.”

She called her mother after finally processing the show’s finale. Clarke confessed that she asked her mother and brother about their thoughts of Daenerys and whether or not the mother of dragons could do anything to earn their hatred. “I read the scripts and I don’t want to tell you what happens but can you just talk me off this ledge?” Clarke continues, repeating the conversation with her mother, “It really messed me up.”

It has been four months since the finale of Game of Thrones aired on HBO and the shock still seems like it hasn’t completely worn off for Clarke. At the 2019 Emmy Awards, Clarke was briefly interviewed by E! News and described her immense confusion and distress after reading the script. “I didn’t know what on Earth I had just read,” said Clarke, “I kind of had to percolate on it a bit.”

Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke | HBO

Emilia Clarke still has nothing but love for Daenerys

Despite the character’s journey to the dark side, Clarke still holds Daenerys Targaryen very near and dear to her heart. In an essay written for The New Yorker, Clarke admits that she channeled Daenerys’ strength and confidence during some very difficult personal struggles, including two brain aneurysms. The actress felt very connected to the mother of dragons, often fighting against urges to react personally when people criticize her character.

“I have my own feelings [about the storyline] and it’s peppered with my feelings about myself,” she revealed in an interview, “It’s gotten to that point now where you read [comments about] the character you [have to remind yourself], ‘They’re not talking about you, Emilia, they’re talking about the character.'” She also admitted that she hates when fans refer to Daenerys as “The Mad Queen.”

“It’s not that I wanted to show her as ‘mad,’ because I really don’t like that word. I don’t enjoy fans calling me ‘the Mad Queen.’ But she is so far gone in grief, in trauma, and in pain,” Clarke explained in an interview, “I wanted to show her as we saw her in the beginning: young, naïve, childlike, open, and full of love and hope. I wanted so much for that to be the last memory of her.”

In the final episode, Daenerys Targaryen tragically died before getting the chance to sit on the Iron Throne, a scene that broke the hearts of many fans who rooted for her. However, with Emilia Clarke’s stunning performance, fans won’t remember Daenerys as a cold-blooded murderer, but as the confident, optimistic woman who yearned to create a better world.