Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke (born 23 October 1986) is an English actress. She is best known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thrones, for which she received three Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Clarke made her Broadway debut in a production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s as Holly Golightly in March 2013. In 2015, she starred as Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys and in 2016 she starred in the romance film Me Before You. In 2015, she was named Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive.
Clarke was born in London, and grew up in Berkshire. Her father is a theatre sound engineer. She has a younger brother. Clarke’s interest in acting began at the age of three after seeing the musical Show Boat on which her father was working. She was educated at Rye St Antony School and at St Edward’s School, Oxford. She attended Drama Centre London, and graduated in 2009.
Clarke’s early work includes two plays at St. Edwards, ten plays at Drama Centre London, the 2009 Company of Angels production of Sense, and two 2009 commercials for Samaritans. One of her first film roles was for a University of London students’ short film. Her first television roles were Saskia Mayer in a 2009 episode of the British soap opera Doctors and Savannah in Syfy’s 2010 film Triassic Attack. Screen International magazine named her as one of the “UK Stars of Tomorrow”.
2010–present: Game of Thrones and film breakthrough
In 2010 Clarke was cast as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones, based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. She was cast after fellow British actress Tamzin Merchant was replaced for undisclosed reasons. In an interview, Clarke stated that she did the funky chicken and robot dance during her audition.
The show debuted in April 2011 to positive reviews and was quickly picked up by the network for a second season. She has appeared in all six broadcast seasons, and is attached to the seventh. Clarke won the 2011 EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her role as Daenerys. In 2013, Clarke was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. She was nominated again in the category in 2015 and 2016. She was voted the most desirable woman in the world by Askmen readers in 2014.
In 2012, Clarke appeared in Spike Island, a film named after the location of The Stone Roses’s seminal 1990 gig. From March to April 2013, Clarke played Holly Golightly in a Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That year, she also starred in Dom Hemingway alongside Jude Law.
In May 2014, it was announced that she had joined the feature film Garden of Last Days alongside James Franco, but the movie was scrapped two weeks before production was due to begin. Clarke was offered the role of Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but turned down the part because of the nudity required.
She played Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys (2015), opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, and Jason Clarke. The film grossed over $400 million, but received mixed reviews from critics.
In 2016, Clarke starred as the female lead, opposite Sam Claflin, in the movie adaption of the best selling book (of the same name), Me Before You, released on 3 June 2016. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $200 million worldwide.
She will play the lead as Nurse Verena, in the up-coming movie Voice from the Stone. She was named Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015. She is also rumored to be attached to the films The Guns of August opposite Helena Bonham Carter, Set It Up opposite Glen Powell, Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston, and Rothschild opposite Logan Lerman.