Actress Emilia Clarke recently revealed that she suffered from two life-threatening brain aneurysms, with the first happening after filming HBO’s Game of Thrones season 1, in which she stars as Daenerys Targaryen. Clarke came to fame in the role and wowed TV viewers with her performance as the daughter of a deposed king, as well as the “mother of dragons.” Throughout the series, Daenerys begins gathering support and armies to take back the Iron Throne, something she feels is rightfully hers.
Since becoming Daenerys on Game of Thrones, though, Clarke has gone on to become an international star. She was cast as Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys, and although the film didn’t do well at the box office, her performance was generally praised. She also landed a role in the Star Wars universe in Solo: A Star Wars Story as Qi’ra, Han’s childhood best friend, as well as a lieutenant in the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. For all eyes watching, it seems that Clarke has had a perfect life and has seen all her dreams come true.
However, Clarke almost didn’t live to see this success. In a piece she penned for The New Yorker, Clarke reveals that she suffered from two brain aneurysms, with one happening after she filmed the first season of Game of Thrones. Clarke’s words describe the horrible pain and terrifying emotions she felt during that time, including dealing with some temporary memory loss. Clarke also describes how she struggled to maintain some sense of control over her life, as well as her work. Although the first aneurysm did not require invasive surgery, the second, which occurred after she completed filming season 3 of Game of Thrones was more serious. She wrote about her recovery:
“The recovery was even more painful than it had been after the first surgery. I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced. I emerged from the operation with a drain coming out of my head. Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium. These days, you can’t see the scar that curves from my scalp to my ear, but I didn’t know at first that it wouldn’t be visible. And there was, above all, the constant worry about cognitive or sensory losses. Would it be concentration? Memory? Peripheral vision? Now I tell people that what it robbed me of is good taste in men. But, of course, none of this seemed remotely funny at the time.”
Like Daenerys, though, Clarke is a survivor and seems to have overcome all odds as her star continues to rise. She made it through eight seasons of Game of Thrones, with the final season set to premiere on HBO in April. Clarke commemorated the occasion by getting a dragon tattoo. She was also recently cast in a Christmas romantic comedy directed by Paul Feig.
Meanwhile, fans eagerly await the final season of Game of Thrones. The trailer for season 8 was watched so many times that it broke records for HBO. As of yet, no one knows who will win the Iron Throne, but even if it isn’t Daenerys, the actress who portrays her has defied all odds to come out on top.