Emilia Clarke “Absolutely Never Saw” That ‘Game of Thrones’ Ending Coming

The FINAL EPISODE EVER of Game of Thrones has aired, and we’re just starting to fully accept a world without that opening title sequence. Yes, there’s waaaay more to the show than just that mechanical musical marvel, but, we’ll miss it most, we think.

Hopefully by now you’ve actually SEEN the finale episode, “The Iron Throne,” and therefor spoilers won’t shock your delicate Westeros sensibilities. If you HAVEN’T caught up yet, maybe do that before reading what Emilia Clarke had to say about the final scenes for her character.

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Okay so, we knew chances were either Daenerys or Jon Snow (Kit Harington) would not survive til the end of the episode, right? That was sort of telegraphed this entire season with the advisors putting the idea in the Targaryen relatives’ heads. What we weren’t expecting was Dany never sitting on her ancestral seat after alllll of that.

Emilia Clarke "Absolutely Never Saw" That 'Game of Thrones' Ending Coming

Emilia Clarke "Absolutely Never Saw" That 'Game of Thrones' Ending Coming

She gets to touch it while the snow falls down in the roofless throne room, but she never gets to sit. Her life’s ambition, her motivation this entire time, just under her fingertips, but ultimately taken away by her own actions and the hand of her lover / nephew, Jon Snow.

Clarke spoke with Entertainment Weekly about reading that final scene:

Emilia Clarke "Absolutely Never Saw" That 'Game of Thrones' Ending Coming

“I cried. 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?’”

She also detailed how that final table read went, looking at Harington across the room as the scene was verbally revealed for the first time (he apparently hadn’t read ahead). She “watch him compute all of this.”  Harington said that he “looked at Emilia and there was a moment of me realizing, ‘No, no…’”

She apparently nodded back to him, and revealed that “he was crying, and then it was kind of great him not having read it.”

Emilia Clarke "Absolutely Never Saw" That 'Game of Thrones' Ending Coming
Clarke also went into depth about her feelings on Dany’s motivations in season 8, and the process of trying to remind herself that criticism of the character is just that- and not directed at her, Emilia, personally.

“She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn’t going to be something scuttling her greatest plans. The problem is [the Starks] don’t like her and she sees it. She goes, ‘Okay, one chance.’ She gives them that chance and it doesn’t work and she’s too far to turn around. She’s made her bed, she’s laying in it. It’s done. And that’s the thing. I don’t think she realizes until it happens — the real effect of their reactions on her is: ‘I don’t give a s—t.’ This is my whole existence. Since birth! She literally was brought into this world going, ‘Run!’ These f—kers have f—ked everything up, and now it’s, ‘You’re our only hope.’ There’s so much she’s taken on in her duty in life to rectify, so much she’s seen and witnessed and been through and lost and suffered and hurt. Suddenly these people are turning around and saying, ‘We don’t accept you.’ But she’s too far down the line. She’s killed so many people already. I can’t turn this ship around. It’s too much. One by one, you see all these strings being cut. And there’s just this last thread she’s holding onto: There’s this boy. And she thinks, ‘He loves me, and I think that’s enough.’ But is it enough? Is it? And it’s just that hope and wishing that finally there is someone who accepts her for everything she is and … he f—king doesn’t.”

There’s a number of turning points you see for Daenerys in the season, but that’s [losing Missandei] the biggest break. There’s nothing I will not do after losing Missandai and seeing the sacrifice she was prepared to make for her. That breaks her completely. There’s nothing left to making a tough choice.

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Actor Conleth Hill as Varys in “Game of Thrones”
photo courtesy of HBO

She f—king warned him [Varys] last season. We love Varys. I love [Conleth Hill]. But he changes his colors as many times as he wants. She needs to know the people who are supporting her regardless. That was my only option, essentially, is what I mean.

With Cersei, it’s a complete no-brainer. Lady’s a crazy motherf—ker. She’s going down.

I have my own feelings [about the storyline] and it’s peppered with my feelings about myself. 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.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in “Game of Thrones”
Photo courtesy of HBO

You’re about to ask if me — as Emilia — disagreed with her [Dany] at any point. 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 bulls—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. 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…

But having said all of the things I’ve just said…I stand by Daenerys. I stand by her! I can’t not.”

And now our watch has ended.


About Mary Anne Butler

Bleeding Cool News Editor Mary Anne Butler (Mab, for short) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), and most recently Bleeding Cool.

Over the past 10 years, she’s built a presence at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). 

Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. 

Though she be but little, she is fierce. #MabTheProfessional

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