Emilia Clarke feared a brain aneurysm she suffered after shooting the first season of Game of Thrones could have cost her her acting ability — but it turns out all she lost was her “taste in men”.
Appearing on US network CBS, Clarke revealed photos of her recovery from surgery, saying she was left with a “deep paranoia” about her future on the fledgling show after learning “there was a bit of my brain that actually died”.
“For a very long time I thought it was my ability to act [that I would lose],” she said.
“That was a deep paranoia. I thought what if something has short-circuited in my brain and I can’t act any more. I mean, literally, it’s been my reason for living for a very long time.
“[Doctors] were literally looking at it saying, we think it could be concentration or peripheral vision [that was lost].
“I always say it’s my taste in men. My decent taste in men.”
The 32-year-old, who was 24 when she suffered the first aneurysm, will reprise her role as the Mother of Dragons when the eighth and final season begins on Monday, April 15.
‘Like an elastic band just went snap’
But seeing out the landmark series seemed unlikely when the first aneurysm struck as she worked out in a London gym eight years ago.
“It was like an elastic band just went snap in my head – an enormous amount of pressure suddenly,” she said.
“I realised I couldn’t stand and I couldn’t walk. In that moment I knew I was being brain-damaged.”
Daenerys has dodged the fate of many of the show’s other leading characters, which have been killed off – often in bloody fashion – over the course of the show.
In contrast, she has evolved from a princess-in-exile married off to a barbarian by her calculating brother, into a powerful figure either worshipped, feared or revered by nearly every soul in her world.
Clarke said she drew on the strength of her on-screen persona during her private battles.
“I definitely went through a period of feeling down, to put it mildly,” she said.
“You go to work and you play a badass and you walk through fire, and that became the thing that just saved me from just considering my own mortality.”
Despite her concerns, Clarke said she was “completely in the clear” after two rounds of surgery, and had started the Same You charity for survivors of brain injuries.