Emilia Clarke Talks Pressure to Do Nudity After Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke reflects on nudity in Game of Thrones' first season, the advice Jason Momoa gave her, and pressures she's faced.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys in Game of Thrones

It is safe to say that if Game of Thrones began in 2019 instead of 2011, it would have looked at least somewhat different. Emilia Clarke appears to feel the same way about if she had been as experienced in the industry then as she is now. The Emmy nominated actor, who has become a pop culture icon for her fearsome portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen on the HBO fantasy epic, is incredibly proud of her time as the Mother of Dragons. She’s also long been tired about the “nudity question” regarding Game of Thrones… even as her opinion on it has evolved over the years.

Speaking again about the show’s often gratuitous use of female nudity, particularly during its early seasons that included several of her own scenes, Clarke offered new, and sometimes disquieting, insights on the experience to Dax Shepherd on his podcast Armchair Expert (via Deadline).

Describing the first season as requiring a “fuck-ton of nudity” from her, she admitted she didn’t fully know what she was doing when she agreed to all of it.

“I came to terms with that beforehand,” Clarke said. “But then going in and doing it… I’d been on a film set twice before then, and I’m now on a film set completely naked with all of these people, and I don’t know what I’m meant to do and I don’t know what’s expected of me, and I don’t know what you want, and I don’t know what I want.”

Ad – content continues below

While Clarke said she’d have felt that way no matter what after taking a lead role on a major television series at the age of 23, she also had an eye-opening conversation with co-star Jason Momoa. As Clarke tells it, Momoa appeared to suggest the HBO series was taking advantage of her inexperience in the first season.

Said Clarke, “It was definitely hard, which is why the scenes when I got to do them with Jason were wonderful, because he was like, ‘No, sweetie, this isn’t okay.’ And I was like, ‘Oh.’”

Clarke of course famously curtailed the amount of nudity she did in later seasons, and chose sequences of empowerment where Daenerys would be fully nude. However, she also reveals a very gross story about someone trying to pressure her into doing nudity, although it is unclear whether it was on Game of Thrones or another project. (For example, she was famously offered, and turned down, the role of Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.)

“Now things are very, very different,” Clarke said. “I’m a lot more savvy with what I’m comfortable with and what I’m okay with doing. I’ve had fights on set before where I’m like, ‘No, the sheet stays up,’ and they’re like, ‘You don’t wanna disappoint your Game of Thrones fans.’ And I’m like, ‘Fuck you.’”

Whoever pressured her with the guilt of “disappointing fans?” Yikes to the extreme.

David Crow is the Film Section Editor at Den of Geek. He’s also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. Read more of his work here. You can follow him on Twitter @DCrowsNest.