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Emilia Clarke Worried She’d Lose ‘Game of Thrones’ After Brain Bleed

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Emilia Clarke says she feared not only for her life, but her job on Game of Thrones after her brain aneurysms in 2011 and 2013. 

The 37-year-old actress recently sat down with Big Issue to talk about her career and her health and revealed that as she portrayed Daenerys Targaryen in the critically acclaimed series, she worried she might get fired due to her health issues. 

“When you have a brain injury, because it alters your sense of self on such a dramatic level, all of the insecurities you have going into the workplace quadruple overnight,” Clarke told the outlet, discussing the hemorrhages that occurred between seasons. 

She continued, “The first fear we all had was: ‘Oh my God, am I going to get fired? Am I going to get fired because they think I’m not capable of completing the job?'”

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’HBO

The actress, who portrayed the “Mother of Dragons” from 2011 to 2019 when the series ended, shared that as her aneurysms occurred between seasons, she pushed herself to recover quickly, returning to work mere weeks after her first hemorrhage. 

Despite living in constant fear of dying from another brain injury and dealing with the immense stress and pressure of the show resting on her shoulders — Clarke was one of a handful of top-billed cast members — she decided to continue filming.

“Well, if I’m going to die, I better die on live TV,” she shared of her mindset while recovering on the set of GOT. For the goal-oriented artist, having something to return to was crucial, she has previously stated. 

Back in 2022, the Secret Invasion actress talked with BBC Sunday Morning and revealed that she considers it a miracle to be walking and talking as she is missing two significant portions of her brain after undergoing procedures for the brain aneurysms. 

“It was the most excruciating pain,” Clarke said, adding that it was “incredibly helpful to have Game of Thrones sweep me up and give me that purpose.”

Emilia Clarke at the premiere of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 6 in 2016Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

ET last spoke with Clarke in 2023 at the premiere of Secret Invasion and she detailed life — and jobs — post-Game of Thrones, including her role in the Disney+ show adapted from the Marvel comics. She joked that as someone who had to constantly turn green as a Skrull — a shapeshifting alien race — in the show, she missed the days of more natural makeup on her HBO show. 

“It’s a lot,” Clarke said of the makeup and costuming in Secret Invasion and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “It’s intense, it’s really intense, so I prefer human makeup because, for this show, there wasn’t a lot of it.”

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