How 'Game of Thrones' Star Emilia Clarke Almost Died. Twice.

crossfit emilia clarke game of thrones

We all know her as Daenerys Targaryen and for the die-hard fans (say it with me):

the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.

Or Dany, for short.

But after every episode, after every season, there's a lovely young lady named Emilia who got thrust into the limelight so furiously and unexpectedly, one might have to live a couple of lifetimes just to get to where she is.

Yet according to her, everything could've been lost.

"In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. 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."

Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke was only 24 years old when she suffered the first of what was going to be two (2011 and 2013) very life-threatening brain aneurysms (subarachnoid hemorrhage). Almost 30% never survives an instance, let alone two.

"At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged... For a few moments, I tried to will away the pain and nausea. To keep my memory alive, I tried to recall, among other things, some lines from Game of Thrones."

emilia clarke brain aneurysm

Fortunately, Emilia went on to recover from both and continue on working. However, there was a feeling of constant dread creeping inside her that forced her to take morphine while promoting the show.

"Even before we began filming season 2, I was deeply unsure of myself. I was often so woozy, so weak, that I thought I was going to die. Staying at a hotel in London during a publicity tour, I vividly remember thinking, I can’t keep up or think or breathe, much less try to be charming. I sipped on morphine in between interviews."

While she admitted to keeping her condition under wraps in fear of future repercussions to her career, she has come forward to share her experience. Right now, she is involved with SameYou--a charity she helped develop to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke.

"But now, after keeping quiet all these years, I’m telling you the truth in full. Please believe me: I know that I am hardly unique, hardly alone. Countless people have suffered far worse, and with nothing like the care I was so lucky to receive... I survived MTV [interviews] and so much more. In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred per cent."

And with a renewed zest for life, Emilia is happy to see this chapter of her life end and begin another.

"There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of “Thrones.” I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next."

All excerpts come from Emilia Clarke's The New Yorker article entitled: A Battle For My Life.

emilia clarke the new yorker


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