Emilia Clarke is next-level bilingual.
Learning a language is hard enough, now imagine learning a fictional language well enough to improvise an entire monologue. That is exactly what Clarke did in season five of “Game of Thrones”, according to episode director Jeremy Podeswa.
“Then [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] came down – they were watching the scene being shot – and they said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the scene was in Valyrian?'” Podeswa said in an outtake for Entertainment Weekly author James Hibberd’s book, Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon.
Typically, Valyrian or Dothraki dialogue is scripted months in advance by “GoT” linguist, David Peterson. The actors generally required significant time to memorize and practice speaking in the fictional languages.
“There’s usually a lot of preparation for that sort of thing and so much consideration that goes into it and she had quite a big monologue before she sets the guy on fire,” Podeswa explained. “I went over to Emilia and I was like, ‘I know this is a really big ask, but do you think you could figure out a way to do this in Valyrian?’”
“She said, ‘Yeah, sure, I think I can do this.’ And I’m all, ‘Really?‘ Then she went off and cobbled together things that [Daenerys] had said in the past that made sense,” he continued. “She came back in 10 minutes and had this whole monologue down.”
Podeswa applauded Clarke for delivering such a convincing performance on 10 minutes notice.
“I just had to hand it to Emilia for taking on the challenge and making it completely credible,” Podeswa said. “Every single take, every intonation, and the way she phrased everything, you completely understood what she was meant to be saying.”
“Then the subtitles all seemed authentic to what she was doing. She knew the language well enough at that point to make it all work. It wasn’t tracking perfectly in Valyrian, but no fan ever noticed it,” he concluded. “She did an amazing job.”