TV & Radio
When you play the Mother Of Dragons, it's only natural that the world's attention will fall to you. But with the premiere of Season 4 of Game Of Thrones breaking HBO's ratings records (and, indeed, breaking their streaming service HBO Go), it appears I was the only person who dashed straight to the computer to search for cool pictures of The Hound: the rest of the world's gone mad about Emilia Clarke.
Checking in with Google Trends yesterday, "Emilia Clarke" was right up there, topped only by searches for recently deceased celebrities (and the omnipresent MH370 conspiracy theories). It seems Clarke could be heading for Jennifer Lawrence-esque status as it girl du jour.
(After all, JLaw is planning on taking some time off.)
She certainly gives good quote; witness her guts-spilling to the LA Times this week on the topic of her Game Of Thrones language duties: "What I do is map the English onto the Valyrian so you can see how you yourself would say it. [...] If you speak it as you would your own language, then it reads so much better. That's why we can watch Hitler speaking and you get what he's talking about even though you don't speak German. I can't believe I just compared Daenerys to Hitler. I did not mean that at all."
Thanks to Game Of Thrones' writer George RR Martin's habit of dispatching beloved characters left, right and centre (Valar Morghulis and all that), the presence of Dany's three rather large dragons has perhaps led to viewers pinning their hopes on the Khaleesi and the young woman who plays her. And, in a show that at times doesn't differ that dramatically from its porn parody Game Of Bones when it comes to the bared bosom count, there's something impressive about Dany's now almost entirely sexless storyline (flirting with Daario and his blue roses doesn't count).
As she has said of the character, "One of the many things I love about Daenerys from Game of Thrones is she's given me an opportunity to fly the flag for young girls and women, to be more than just somebody's wife and somebody's girlfriend." And while Dany's white saviour complex storyline leaves a lot to be desired, there was certainly something thrilling - feminist wish fulfillment - in watching her command her dragon to nuke that misogynist slavemaster, wasn't there?
Clarke's appeal seems to go beyond the simple matter of being on the most-pirated show of all time, though. Her wit and smarts seem matched only by her self-effacing sense of humour; Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff told the Wall Street Journal, "She's effing funny. Does that mean we've written hilarious scenes for her? No. But someone should." If JLaw is the celebrity you'd hang out and smash cones with while playing Call Of Duty, Clarke seems like the one you'd get uproariously drunk with after going to the theatre.
(Though personally I'm apoplectic with jealousy that, in Breakfast At Tiffany's on Broadway last year, Clarke got to appear onstage alongside Vito Vincent, aka the cat who also played Christiane Aman Purr on The Colbert Report. Which may be the most obscure sentence I have ever written.)
Naturally there is also the matter of her exquisite beauty, but for an actress who has made her mark primarily through the depiction of strength and determination (next she will play Sarah Connor in the latest Terminator reboot, Terminator: Genesis), it seems almost beside the point to mention it.
Perhaps what strikes people most about Clarke is the apparently fated journey she's had to stardom. Not long after graduating from drama school, with just a few tiny roles under her belt, she became the Mother Of Dragons. "She's being thrown into the deep end, to see if she can sink or swim, and she decides to do it her way. It was wonderful to see a character with such humble beginnings, and such low self-esteem, beginning to trust herself," she told the WSJ of Danaerys. You could say the same thing of Emilia Clarke.
- FFX Aus