WARNING: Spoilers Ahead! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Sunday’s series finale of “Game of Thrones”.
Don’t worry — you weren’t the only one who didn’t see that twist coming.
Sunday’s series finale of “Game of Thrones” had fans divided when, after Dany’s brutal burning of King’s Landing, Jon finally realized that she wasn’t the right ruler for the seven kingdoms. He tearfully stabbed her in the heart, leading our lords and ladies to choose a new king — Bran Stark. After eight seasons of fighting for the Iron Throne, Dany didn’t even get to take a seat before her death, and Emilia Clarke was surprised, to say the least.
“What, what, what, WHAT!? Because it comes out of f**king nowhere. I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming,” the actress candidly said of her reaction to the episode during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“I cried,” Clarke continued. “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. I’m like, ‘How am I going to do this?'”
Days after reading the script, the actress headed to Belfast for the series’ final table read. She sat next to Kit Harington on the plane — who hadn’t read the scripts yet, wanting to experience them for the first time while surrounded by the whole cast — but didn’t tell him what was coming.
“I looked at Emilia and there was a moment of me realizing, ‘No, no…'” Harington recalled.
“He was crying,” Clarke confirmed. “And then it was kind of great, him not having read it.”
While she didn’t see it coming, “Game of Thrones” creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have known for years how they were planning to end the series. On occasion, they would ask Clarke to play a scene in a different way than what she expected from her supposedly heroic character.
“There’s a number of times I’ve been like: ‘Why are you giving me that note?’” Clarke said. “So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.”
Throughout the years, the actress has grown close to her character. She’s justified seemingly every action Dany has made over the years, and had “my own feelings” about the storyline of the Dragon Queen’s shocking meltdown. Yet Clarke also had another, more personal reaction to Dany’s meltdown. “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 confessed.
Co-executive producer Bryan Cogman admitted to the outlet that, “I still don’t know how I feel about a lot of what happens this season and I helped write it.”
“It’s emotionally very challenging. It’s designed to not feel good. That said, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The best drama is the type you have to think about. There’s a dangerous tendency right now to make art and popular culture to feel safe for everybody and make everybody feel okay when watching and I don’t believe in that,” he said. “The show is messy and grey and that’s where it’s always lived — from Jaime pushing a little boy out the window to Ned Stark’s death to the Red Wedding. This is the kind of story that’s meant to unsettle you and challenge you and make you think and question. I think that was George’s intent and what David and Dan wanted to do. However you feel about the final episodes of this show I don’t think anybody will ever accuse us of taking the easy way out.”
Clarke, meanwhile, eventually accepted Dany’s fate.
“You’re about to ask if me — as Emilia — disagreed with her at any point,” she shared. “It was a f**king struggle reading the scripts. What I was taught at drama school — and if you print this there will be drama school teachers going, ‘That’s bullsh*t,’ but here we go: I was told that your character is right. Your character makes a choice and you need to be right with that. An actor should never be afraid to look ugly. We have uglier sides to ourselves. And after 10 years of working on this show, it’s logical. Where else can she go? I tried to think what the ending will be. It’s not like she’s suddenly going to go, ‘Okay, I’m gonna put a kettle on and put cookies in the oven and we’ll just sit down and have a lovely time and pop a few kids out.’ That was never going to happen. She’s a Targaryen.”
“I thought she was going to die,” Clarke concluded. “I feel very taken care of as a character in that sense. It’s a very beautiful and touching ending. Hopefully, what you’ll see in that last moment as she’s dying is: There’s the vulnerability — there’s the little girl you met in season 1. See? She’s right there. And now, she’s not there anymore…”
Fans will learn more about the epic conclusion to “Game of Thrones” on HBO’s special two-hour documentary, airing Sunday, May 26.