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Emilia Clarke

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Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke by Gage Skidmore 2 (cropped).jpg
Clarke at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke

(1986-10-23) 23 October 1986 (age 33)
London, England
Alma materDrama Centre London
OccupationActress
Years active2009–present
AwardsFull list

Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke (born 23 October 1986) is an English actress. She studied at the Drama Centre London, appearing in a number of stage productions, including one by the Company of Angels. Her television debut came with a guest appearance in an episode of the British medical soap opera Doctors in 2009. The following year, she was named as one of the "UK Stars of Tomorrow" by Screen International magazine for her role in the Syfy film Triassic Attack (2010).

Clarke rose to prominence for her breakthrough role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones (2011–2019). The role garnered her international recognition, and several accolades, including four Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Three were for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, with the fourth nomination being for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2019.

Clarke made her Broadway debut as Holly Golightly in the 2013 play Breakfast at Tiffany's and played Nina in a West End production of The Seagull that began previews in 2020 before being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her film roles include Sarah Connor in the science fiction film Terminator Genisys (2015) and Qi'ra in the Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). She has also starred in the romantic films Me Before You (2016) and Last Christmas (2019). In 2018, she was honoured by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts with the British Artist of the Year award. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019.

Early life[edit]

St Edward's School Oxford, which Clarke attended

Clarke was born on 23 October 1986 in London.[1][2] She grew up in Oxfordshire.[3] Her father, Peter Clarke, was a theatre sound engineer from Wolverhampton,[4][5] while her mother, Jennifer, is the vice-president for marketing at a global management consultancy firm as of 2020.[1][6] Clarke's older brother, Bennett, works in the entertainment industry and was part of the camera department on Game of Thrones.[7][8]

Clarke said she became interested in acting at the age of three after seeing the musical Show Boat.[9] When she was ten, her father took her to a West End audition for the musical The Goodbye Girl, a musical by Neil Simon.[1] Clarke attended Rye St Antony School in Headington and St Edward's School, Oxford, which she left in 2005.[10] In a 2016 interview with Time Out magazine, she stated “I went to posh boarding schools, but I wasn’t the posh girl at the posh boarding schools.”[11] She also stated that most of the people at her boarding school in Oxford were from conservative backgrounds, which meant she and some of her friends often felt like outsiders.[12] After graduation, Clarke unsuccessfully applied to RADA, LAMDA, and Guildhall. She worked and travelled before entering the Drama Centre London, from which she graduated in 2009.[13][14]

Clarke stated in a 2018 interview that her maternal grandmother was the child of a secret affair between Clarke's great-grandmother and a man from the Indian subcontinent. Her grandmother wore light makeup to hide the darker complexion she had inherited from her father. Clarke credits this background for her family's having a "history of fighters", saying: "The fact that [my grandmother] had to hide her skin colour, essentially, and try desperately to fit in with everyone else must've been incredibly difficult."[15] In a Harper's Bazaar interview, Clarke stated that her grandmother loved India more than she loved England and so, when she died, Clarke, at the age of 16, travelled to India to scatter her ashes.[16]

Career[edit]

Early career (2000–2010)[edit]

Clarke started to act in stage productions while attending school. She appeared in student productions of Twelfth Night and West Side Story while attending St Edward's School.[17] After taking a sabbatical year, she was accepted into Drama Centre London.[1] Clarke also appeared the 2009 production of Sense, co-produced by theatre company Company of Angels and Drama Centre London.[18]

One of her first film roles was in Drop the Dog, a University of London student short film.[19] She graduated from drama school in 2009.[20] She worked at various non-acting jobs after graduating while auditioning for roles.[21] She starred in two commercials for the charity Samaritans, portraying a domestic abuse victim.[22] Her first credited television role was a bit part in a 2009 episode of the British soap opera Doctors.[23] Clarke was cast in her first professional film role, playing Savannah in the 2010 television film Triassic Attack.[24] The film was released in November 2010 on the Syfy channel in American where it received negative reviews.[25] Despite the film's reviews, she was named a "UK Star of Tomorrow" by the film magazine Screen International.[26]

Game of Thrones and rise to international prominence (2011–2019)[edit]

Clarke at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con

Clarke was cast in her third professional role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin in 2010.[13] Daenerys is one of the last surviving members of House Targaryen who had ruled Westeros from the Iron Throne for nearly three hundred years prior to being ousted.[27] Actress Tamzin Merchant was originally cast for the part of Daenerys.[28] When the pilot episode was re-shot in early 2010, Merchant was replaced by Clarke.[29][30] The show ran from April 2011 until May 2019, with Clarke portraying Daenerys throughout all eight seasons.[31]

Clarke received widespread praise for her portrayal of Daenerys, which traces an arc from frightened girl to empowered woman. Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe called her scenes "mesmerising", adding that "Clarke doesn't have a lot of emotional variety to work with as Daenerys, aside from fierce determination, and yet she is riveting."[32] Emily VanDerWerff for The A.V. Club commented on the difficulty of adapting such an evolution from page to screen, but concluded that Clarke "more than seal[s] the deal here."[33]

In 2017, she reportedly became one of the highest paid actors on television, reportedly earning £2 million per episode of Game of Thrones.[a] In 2019, she said she had been uncomfortable acting nude in her first experience at age 23 of a large film set, but had since become "a lot more savvy" about what level of nudity is needed for a scene.[36] Clarke received multiple award nominations and wins for her role of Daenerys. After the first season, Clarke won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama at the 2011 EWwy Awards.[37] She was also nominated three times for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2013, 2015, and 2016.[38] At the 2019 Emmys, she was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, her first nomination in the category.[39]

In addition to the television show, she lent her voice and likeness to the 2014 video game of the same name.[40] She also made a cameo appearance during Kit Harington's monologue on Saturday Night Live in April 2019.[41] She said in a November 2019 NPR interview that if she "were to get stereotyped as the mother of dragons, I could ask for worse. It's really quite wonderful."[42]

Film career (2012–present)[edit]

Clarke's first film role was in the short film Shackled (2012).[43] The film was featured in the 2020 Prime Video horror anthology series Murder Manual.[44] The same year, she starred alongside Elliott Tittensor in the comedy film Spike Island. It details a group of friends who try to get to the namesake island of The Stone Roses 1990 concert.[45] The movie was originally distributed only in the United Kingdom but was subsequently picked up by Level 33 Entertainment for North American distribution in March 2015.[46] From March to April 2013, she played Holly Golightly in a Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany's, a role requiring her to perform a nude scene.[47] The production, along with her performance, received mixed reviews from critics.[48][49] Later that year, she also starred in the black comedy-crime drama film Dom Hemingway alongside Jude Law.[50]

In May 2013, Clarke was cast in a film adaptation of the novel The Garden of Last Days.[51] James Franco was set to direct and star in the film however he left the project two weeks before filming after creative differences with the film distributor Millennium Entertainment.[52] In an 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clarke said she was offered the role of Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey.[53] She said she turned down the part because of the nudity required.[54]

In 2013, she was cast as Sarah Connor in the science fiction action film Terminator Genisys (2015). The film, which also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, and Jason Clarke, received unfavourable reviews from critics,[55] Despite the reviews, the movie was a box office success, grossing over $440 million worldwide.[56] Clarke was nominated for Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Movie Star – Female and Best International Actress at the 2016 Jupiter Awards for her performance.[57]

She starred as the female lead, opposite Sam Claflin, in the movie adaption of the best-selling novel of the same name, Me Before You. The film which was released on 3 June 2016 and directed by Thea Sharrock, received mixed critical reviews.[58] The film grossed $200 million worldwide and was a box office success.[59] For her role as Louisa Clark, she shared nominations with Sam Claflin for the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liplock and the MTV Television Tearjerker Award.[60][61] In 2017, she played the lead as Nurse Verena in the supernatural psychological thriller film Voice from the Stone. The film was released in April 2017 for a limited theatre run, followed by video on demand and digital HD.[62]

She was cast as the female lead in Solo: A Star Wars Story in November 2016. The movie, which was directed by Ron Howard and premiered in November 2018, details the origins of Star Wars characters Han Solo and Chewbacca.[63] Clarke played Qi'ra, Han's childhood friend and love interest.[64] The film received favourable critical reviews despite being the second-lowest grossing Star Wars film.[65] The film was released worldwide on 25 May 2018.[66] Her performance received positive critical reviews with many calling her one of the standouts of the film.[67] Clarke, along with Jack Huston, was cast in 2016 as leads in the film Above Suspicion (2019). The film, based on a thriller novel by Joe Sharkey and directed by Phillip Noyce, was announced at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[68] In late 2019, Clarke starred in the romantic comedy film Last Christmas. It was a box office success, grossing $121 million worldwide.[69][70] The film, also starring Henry Golding, was written by Emma Thompson and directed by Paul Feig.[71] In a January 2020 interview with Bustle magazine, Clarke stated she was inspired by Will Ferrell's character in the 2003 comedy film Elf.[72] Although the film received negative reviews, critics praised Clarke's performance.[73][74]

Upcoming projects[edit]

In January 2017, Clarke was cast as the lead in the upcoming English language adaptation of the 2015 Korean romantic comedy The Beauty Inside.[75] As of October 2019, the film was yet to begin production.[76] It was announced in May 2019 that Clarke is set to play the English poet Elizabeth Barrett in the film Let Me Count the Ways, which The Wife director Björn Runge is set to direct.[77] Clarke starred as Nina in the West End production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by Jamie Lloyd, which began previews on 11 March 2020 in the Playhouse Theatre.[78] The production was suspended on 16 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[79] The play is Clarke's first West End production.[80]

Off-screen work[edit]

Advertising and endorsements[edit]

In 2015, luxury goods company Dior signed Clarke to be the face of the Rose des Vents jewelry collection.[81] In 2018, Dolce & Gabbana announced she would be the brand ambassador for the fragrance "The Only One".[82] She starred in an advertisement, which was directed by Matteo Garrone for the perfume.[83] Cosmetics company Clinique announced Clarke as their first global ambassador in early 2020.[84]

Activism and charity work[edit]

Clarke also supports several charitable organisations. In September 2011, she joined the SMA UK Trust Team as their celebrity ambassador.[85] The SMA Trust raises funds for research into spinal muscular atrophy.[86] In August 2017, she became a patron of Open Door, a non-profit that aims to help young people gain access to drama school auditions.[87] She auctioned a chance to watch an episode of Game of Thrones with her at the 2018 Sean Penn Charity Gala, which raised over $120,000 benefiting the J/P HRO & Disaster Relief Organizations.[88] In February 2018, she introduced the award recipients at London's Centrepoint Awards, which celebrates the courage shown by homeless young people.[89]

In April 2018, she was named the sole ambassador to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). As the RCN's ambassador, Clarke pledged to use her voice to fight for greater investment in nursing and to challenge misconceptions. Clarke also pledged to join nurses and healthcare workers to tackle the issues affecting the profession, including a falling number in training and shortages in the current workforce.[90]

Clarke was also one of the many UK based actresses to lend her voice to the Time's Up movement which was aimed at exposing sexual harassment and abuse, and creating a society free of gender-based discrimination in the work place.[91] In August 2018, Clarke, as well as Gemma Arterton, Lena Headey, Tom Hiddleston, Felicity Jones, Wunmi Mosaku, Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan, and Catherine Tate, featured in the short film titled Leading Lady Parts which took aim at the film industry's issue of gender inequality during the casting process.[92]

In 2019, following the announcement of the brain aneurysms she suffered in 2011 and 2013, Clarke launched her own charity SameYou. The charity aims to broaden neurorehabilitation access for young people after a brain injury or stroke.[93] On 26 September 2019, she co-hosted a YouTube live stream with Irish YouTuber Jacksepticeye that raised over £200,000 for SameYou.[94] After the conclusion of the final season of Game of Thrones a fundraiser called "Justice for Daenerys" was started in which fans of the show raised over £83,000 for her charity.[95] According to the fundraiser creator, the purpose was to collectively show their appreciation for both Clarke and the character Daenerys Targaryen.[96] In 2020, Clarke was presented with the Public Leadership in Neurology award by the American Brain Foundation for her efforts in raising awareness about neuro-rehabilitation.[97]

In April 2020, Clarke started a fundraiser to help raise funds for her charity's COVID-19 fund.[98] The fundraiser, which aimed to raise £250,000, would support both the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. and the University College Hospital in London. The organisations new initiative aims to make a larger portion of beds available to coronavirus patients by providing a virtual rehabilitation clinic for people recovering from brain injuries and strokes.[99] In a further response to the coronavirus pandemic, Clarke announced the launch of an Instagram series of poetry readings. The readings derive from a collection called The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul. She began the series by reading a poem about loneliness, which she dedicated to her charity SameYou and announced that other performers would be joining the initiative, stating that every performer would dedicate their reading to a charity of their choosing.[100]

Personal life[edit]

Clarke lives in Islington, London. [12] In 2016, she purchased a $4.64 million house in Venice Beach, California.[101]

In a March 2019 article she wrote for The New Yorker, she revealed she had a subarachnoid haemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm, in February 2011. She underwent urgent endovascular coiling surgery and subsequently suffered from aphasia; at one point she was unable to recall her own name. She had a second aneurysm surgically treated in 2013.[1]

She was voted the most desirable woman in the world by AskMen readers in 2014.[102] In 2015 she was named Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive, and was recognised with the GQ Woman of the Year Award that same year.[103] Men's lifestyle magazine FHM named Clarke one of the 100 sexiest women in 2015, 2016, and 2017.[104][105][106] She was also named in Glamour's list of Best Dressed Women in 2017.[107]

Once filming concluded on the final season of Game of Thrones, Clarke, as a tribute to her role as Daenerys Targaryen, commemorated her time on the show with a wrist tattoo featuring a trio of flying dragons.[108]

Clarke sings in her spare time and has a contralto voice range.[109][110]

Filmography[edit]

Actress Emilia Clarke in an interview for MTV International in 2018.
Clarke in 2018 promoting Solo: A Star Wars Story

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2009 Lisa's Story Lisa Short film for Samaritans [22]
2012 Shackled Malu Short film [43]
2012 Spike Island Sally Harris [45]
2013 Dom Hemingway Evelyn Hemingway [111]
2015 Terminator Genisys Sarah Connor [112]
2016 Me Before You Louisa Clark [113]
2017 Voice from the Stone Verena [114]
2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story Qi'ra [115]
2018 Leading Lady Parts Herself Short film [116]
2019 Above Suspicion Susan Smith [117]
2019 Last Christmas Katarina "Kate" [118]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2009 Doctors Saskia Mayer Episode: "Empty Nest" [119]
2010 Triassic Attack Savannah Roundtree Television film [120]
2011–2019 Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen Lead role; 62 episodes [121]
2013 Futurama Marianne (voice) Episode: "Stench and Stenchibility" [122]
2016 Robot Chicken Bridget (voice) Episode: "Joel Hurwitz Returns" [123]
2017 Animals Lumpy (voice) Episode: "Rats." [124]
2017 Thunderbirds Are Go Doyle (voice) Episode: "Rigged for Disaster" [125]
2019 Saturday Night Live Herself Episode: "Kit Harington / Sara Bareilles" [126]

Discography[edit]

Year Soundtrack/Album Song Ref.
2013 Dom Hemingway Fisherman's Blues [127]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes Ref.
2015 Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen Based on the TV series [40]

Stage[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2013 Breakfast at Tiffany's Holiday "Holly" Golightly Cort Theatre [128]
2020 The Seagull Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya Playhouse Theatre [129]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Clarke has been nominated for numerous awards throughout her career. She was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2019, for her role in Game of Thrones.[130] She has received several Critics' Choice Awards nominations, the most recent in 2018.[131] She also received the BAFTA Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year at the 2018 ceremony.[132]

Honours[edit]

In 2018, Clarke was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[133] Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in 2019.[134] Clarke has also been honoured for her charitable work. In 2019, she won a Shorty Award for a video that was made to raise awareness for her charity SameYou and the Royal College of Nursing.[135]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Hollywood Reporter reported the salary per episode to be £1.2 million[34] while The Telegraph reported £2 million per episode.[35]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]