She may be one of the most recognisable stars in the world today but Emilia Clarke remains pessimistic, realistic even, that it could all vanish.

"The world we work in is fickle by nature, so there's always a large pessimist in me that's like, 'This is successful now, but it could easily not be the next day'," she tells

"It's important to keep remembering, as an actor, to not define yourself by the success that you're seeing today.

"Because otherwise you'll be sitting in your pyjamas, unemployed, watching Doctors one day, going 'What have I done? What's happened? Where did it all go?'"


She ends that sentence building up to a mock hysterical tone, mixed in with peals of laughter.

Clarke, 32, has an outsized energy that belies her petite physicality, a pocket rocket who's expressive and engaging, even though she's being wheeled out to a hundred journalists during a long, exhausting Game of Thrones press day.

It seems unthinkable that she would fade into a nobody, days filled with regret and endless hours of bad TV.

Game of Thrones has shot Clarke onto the A-list. Photo / Getty Images
Game of Thrones has shot Clarke onto the A-list. Photo / Getty Images

Right now her face is plastered across billboards all over the world, either for the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones or as a brand ambassador for Dolce and Gabana, her irrepressible smile beaming from posters.

She's also the subject of constant media attention. Just this week, Clarke revealed she suffered two life-threatening brain aneurisms during the years filming Game of Thrones.

Clarke humbly says she walked into the Game of Thrones role that catapulted her to fame straight from her day job but she already had a handful of professional credits to her name, including one episode of the aforementioned daytime soap Doctors, before she became the formidable Mother of Dragons.

Despite her easy energy now, promoting the last season of the show, she confesses she wasn't always this way, recalling a "petrified" young woman of 22 facing her first publicity onslaught a decade ago.

"I remember it so vividly. I think I'm realising in promoting this last season, and thinking about it, is I was an absolute child when we started this."


She adds for emphasis, "a child!", as if she doesn't quite believe it herself.

"Not only did I have no idea as to what the impact of the show would be, I had no idea what the show was, I had no idea what the industry was, I had no idea what being an actor was, I had no idea what Hollywood was.

Clarke and Iain Glen in the first season of Game of Thrones. Photo / Supplied
Clarke and Iain Glen in the first season of Game of Thrones. Photo / Supplied

"I had no idea about what people responded to, I had no idea what the temperature was in Hollywood for women, young people. Nothing.

"I was completely and utterly without anything of anything."

Despite her greenness, veteran Scottish actor Iain Glen who shared most of Clarke's early scenes, was immediately impressed.

"It was a massive job for her when she started and you know you're being judged wherever you are as an actor," he says. "Especially as one of the younger actors that has to go and lead the series.

"She used to ask me about what I felt about what she was doing in scenes and, invariably, it was 'just f**king amazing, trust yourself and back yourself'."

Glen says Clarke is the person on set who always organised birthday celebrations.

"She's very altruistic, a very, very kind, lovely person."

Fast forward a decade, and despite having scored leading roles in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Terminator Genisys and romantic weepie Me Before You, Clarke remains feeling like she shouldn't be where she is.

"I still felt like I wasn't allowed to be in any of the rooms I was put in. Still like, 'I'm going to go! Thank you, I'm just going to leave, because it's easier if I'm just not here'.

A hint at the challenges to come in the final season. Photo / HBO
A hint at the challenges to come in the final season. Photo / HBO

"Yeah, so that's definitely impostor syndrome, you're always going to have it."

In a way, her personal journey in the industry and her character Daenerys' journey have a striking parallel — not that Clarke has ever been sold around like a slave.

But both women have found their own power and their own voices.

"Dany was bought as a slave and abused by her brother in the first season and now she's coming into this last season as a queen. It's remarkable."

Clarke talks confidently about the impact of the female characters, calling it "groundbreaking work". And it's the interactions Clarke has had with young female fans that she likes the most.

Perhaps surprisingly, despite being at the centre of three fan-obsessed franchises, she says she's never had crazy fans make her feel uncomfortable.

Maybe they think she'll burn them alive, like Dany did to the slave masters at Meereen.

"I think I must put them off because I don't normally get someone asking me anything crazy. I get a few "Khaleesi!" from across the street or at an airport, which is always fun.

"But no one has bent the knee or turned up and gone, 'I'm wearing this dragon costume just for you, hop on!'. That's not happened."

And after 10 years of Game of Thrones madness, of long, cold night shoots, of riding a CGI dragon, of her character running away from love, she's saying goodbye.

"A large part of my subconsciousness was just saying goodbye to her everyday," Clarke says. "I wrote a diary, I did all sorts of little things to be telling myself the whole time, 'This is going to be the end of it'.

"So there were lots of time to savour the last moments.

"But all that being said, she's inked on me for life! I'm never getting away from her, she's always going to be a part of me."

She holds out the inside of her wrist, where the silhouette of three dragons flying are delicately inked on her skin.

There really is, no getting away from it.