When Game of Thrones premiered on HBO nearly 10 years ago, it was quite different from the show it would become over the course of its eight-season run. One big component of those early seasons was the nudity, which there was a lot of, and as this was the first major project for many of the show’s young stars, nudity was something which was frequently expected of select members of the cast.
While speaking on the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast, Emilia Clarke spoke about Game of Thrones at length, particularly what it was like to perform so many nude scenes at the beginning of her career. “My adult life has been the show, it’s been 10 years of the show, that’s my whole career thus far. I have been doing this at the most fascinating and shifting times for that,” Clarke said, noting that the pilot episode likely would have been very different had it been produced in today’s climate. “Season 1 was what it was. There was a f**k-ton of nudity,” Clarke said. “They sent me the scripts, and I was like, ‘Oh, there’s the catch.’ But I’d come fresh from drama school and was like, ‘Approach this as a job, if it’s in the script, then it’s clearly needed,’ so I kind of came to terms with that before hand.” Clarke also spoke of her struggles with imposter syndrome, which hit her particularly hard now that she was one of the stars of this huge new series.
I was in such like a, oh my god, other world, I’m floating through this first season, I have no idea what I’m doing, I have no idea what any of this is. I’ve never been on a film set like this before, I’d been on a film set twice before then, and now I’m 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. Regardless of whether they’d been nudity, I’d have spent that first season thinking, ‘I’m not worthy of requiring anything, I’m not worthy of needing anything at all.’
“It was definitely hard,” Clarke said of performing the nude scenes, “which is why the scenes when I got to do them with Jason [Momoa] were wonderful, because he was like, ‘No sweetie, this isn’t okay!’… It’s only now that I realize how fortunate I was with that, because that could have gone many, many, many different ways. Because Jason had experience, he had done a bunch of stuff before coming on to this, he was like, ‘Sweetie, this is how it’s meant to be and this is how it’s not meant to be, and I’m going to make sure that’s the way it goes,” Clarke explained, adding, “He was so kind and considerate and cared about me as a human being. He took care of me, he really did. In an environment where I didn’t know I needed to be taken care of.” Things are very different nowadays however, as Clarke said that she’s, “a lot more savvy about 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 want to disappoint your Game of Thrones fans,’ and I’m like, ‘f**k you.’” When the time came to perform her last nude scene in season six’s “Book of the Stranger,” Emilia Clarke said her attitude was, “I’m owning this, this is mine, they’ve asked me to do it, and I am f**king game,” which certainly mirrored the character’s frame of mind as well during that moment.