Right out of the gate on Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke appeared on her first episode as Daenerys Targaryen. Very quickly, viewers realized that the gig involved plentiful nude scenes that were largely meant to to show Dany as a commodity offered up by her power hungry, opportunistic brother, but it set a swift precedent for Clarke’s budding career. She soon discovered that nudity was expected of her, not only on Thrones but elsewhere, and although the actress is currently experiencing a post-Khaleesi trajectory, she has not forgotten those early days, long before the tables turned, and Dany was ordering men to strip as a display of power.
Clarke has revealed on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast that not only did she feel overwhelmed and obliged to go nude during her first Thrones seasons, but that pressure extended to other projects. Via The Independent, she says that that battle was a widespread one:
“I’m a lot more savvy [now] with what I’m comfortable with, and what I am okay with doing,” she explained. “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, ‘F*** you.’”
Clarke also revealed that she felt overwhelmed by what she described as the “f*** ton of nudity” in the first season of Game of Thrones.
The initial approach taken by Clarke was that if nudity surfaced within the Thrones scripts, “then it’s clearly needed,” even though she knew very quickly that “there’s the catch!” for the role. Somewhere along the way during that first season (when she felt that she was in no position to make requests or demands), Clarke game to grips while working with Jason Momoa (who of course portrayed Khal Drogo) and realized that this wasn’t a “completely fine” approach. “He was like, ‘No, sweetie, this isn’t okay,'” she related to Shepard.
That’s when Clarke stepped up to set more rules for herself, and we saw a lot less of disrobed Daenerys, although for sure, that sixth season nude scene where she incinerated “small men” of the Dothraki did serve a purpose. Not only did that show that she was fireproof (unlike her clothing), but Dany gained greater respect through her formidable actions. Presumably, Clarke was good with that scene, but you can listen to the full Armchair Expert podcast episode here.