Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is featured in the Summer 2018 issue of Vanity Fair.
Game of Thrones, the HBO juggernaut which stars Clarke as its most unstoppable heroine, Daenerys Targaryen. In fact, the very tour we’re taking, put together by a company called Museum Hack, is based on the series, and offers a fan-friendly survey of the sometimes inscrutable displays of the Met. You don’t have to be an art historian (our guide is an aspiring actress) to understand what Greek fire, Damascus blades, heraldry, mutilated men, samurai kamon, the dragon-born St. Margaret of Antioch, and an early female pharaoh have to do with wildfire, Valyrian steel, house words, and Clarke’s world-famous alter ego.
And yet, despite her fame, Clarke has managed to spend a full half-hour in the museum sponging up our guide’s trivia without being spotted. For years, Clarke’s brown hair let her hide in plain sight, but she recently bleached it an icy Targaryen blond. So, why the invisibility? Maybe it’s her height. “We both have a thing about our stature not quite being what people expect,” says her co-star Kit Harington, who, at five feet eight, has six inches on Clarke. Maybe it’s her outfit—the gray overcoat, cream sweater, and jeans are a far cry from the cloaks and armor of Thrones. Or maybe it’s her bright, decidedly non-intimidating personality. “When I’m goofing around with my pals, I’m unrecognizable,” she says. Harington calls Clarke’s humor “naughty,” and it’s certainly true that her informal, expletive-laced banter is a far cry from Daenerys’s imperious tones. “Sometimes, if I’m in a really bad mood,” Clarke notes, “people are like, ‘Khaleesi!’ ”
An active member of Time’s Up, Clarke negotiated with Weiss and Benioff in 2014 to ensure she maintained parity with her male counterparts. She and four co-stars—Harington, Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)—reportedly each landed $300,000 per episode, a dazzling figure that skyrocketed to half a million per episode for the final two seasons. “I get f—ing paid the same as my guy friends,” Clarke says. “We made sure of that.”
Before accepting the Solo role, Clarke had to ask Game of Thrones show-runners Weiss and Benioff for permission to complicate their plans for a final season by adding a demanding Star Wars filming schedule to the mix. They didn’t hesitate. “Solo felt like a great fit that would let her show off her versatility,” Weiss and Benioff explained. “Also, we figured she’d probably get to shoot a ray gun. Ray guns are something we just can’t offer, unfortunately.”
Game of Thrones returns in 2019 with new episodes on HBO.
Photography: Craig McDean / Styling: Jessica Diehl / Hair: Orlando Pita / Makeup: Diane Kendal / Manicure: Casey Herman