Emilia Clarke, one of the lead actresses on HBO’s hit TV series Game of Thrones, has revealed for the first time that she suffered from two brain aneurysms that began after filming the very first season of the show.
In an essay written for The New Yorker, Clarke opened up about her struggles with her health after she fainted at the gym during a workout. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors diagnosed the actress with a subarachnoid hemorrhage—a stroke that can lead to death. She was placed in emergency surgery—brain surgery. She pens that she was “shocked,” and thought “I’m too busy for brain surgery.”
After her surgery, Clarke says there were moments in which she couldn’t remember her own name.
“I’d never experienced fear like that — a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name.
In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.”
View this post on Instagram
?Come meet me on the Game of Thrones set!! That’s right don’t choke on your cornflakes this ain’t not hoax—you, me and a behind-the-scenes sneak peek. Just bend the knee (obviously a pre-requisite) and click that link in my bio or go to omaze.com/got to enter! Plus, every donation supports the fantastic incredible much needed work of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation. ??? ? ? #youknowyouwantto #lunchfortwo #couldbeyou #bendthekneeneverlookedsoeasy #❤️ #motheroftoyourleftyouwillseethefamoussetof.. @gameofthrones @thercn @omazeworld
After her surgery, Clarke says she disclosed her condition to the Game of Thrones showrunners and directors—but did not want any pity, nor be the discussion of people on set. However, she returned to set to begin filming on Season 2 just one week after having surgery; despite doctors telling her she had another small aneurysm. She said, however, it was the worst season for her.
On the set, I didn’t miss a beat, but I struggled. Season 2 would be my worst. I didn’t know what Daenerys was doing. If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.
Clarke managed to film all of Season 2 and 3, before undergoing another emergency surgery that, she felt, was worse than the first.
The recovery was even more painful than it had been after the first surgery. I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced. I emerged from the operation with a draincoming out of my head. Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium.
View this post on Instagram
I mean I really don’t know how many more times I can remind myself that last night happened…not only because the end seems rather erm… hazy now.. Safe to say we got LIT UP. Who knew the #oscars2019 could be so damn fun?! From my insane @balmain dress to my insanely magical @niwaka_collections bling to my perfect colour (NOT DONE BY ME OUT OF A BOX!) but by the fantabulous kind saw me on the last day of her holidays @nicolaclarkecolour to @jennychohair @jilliandempsey @jennahipp @petraflannery my sisters from other mistas thank you for making me sparkly and shine and get me to the damn party on time! #littyinthecity #brunetteshavemorefunandnowiveprovedit #? #❤️ #??
However, Clarke says she feels grateful to be alive and incredibly happy to be able to share her story.
There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of “Thrones.” I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next.
Many people online disclosed that Clarke embodies her strong, cunning, and determined character in Game of Thrones both on and off set.
When you're Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons… you survive things.
— Rose DF (@_Astro_Nerd_) March 21, 2019
A Khaleesi on and off the screen pic.twitter.com/iuj5eKA7Fc
— alif ahmad ?? (@ladembouz) March 21, 2019
im crying. a queen on screen and off. i love u so much
— Tiffany Ray (@xxxorcist_) March 21, 2019
One would never have known from watching her performance and interviews. Glad she’s ok and sharing her story.
— Daniel (@dr_moreau1896) March 21, 2019
Emilia Clarke, Mother of Dragons, Survivor of Sickness, Ambassador of Hope, Real-Life Bada$$ ✊????
— Jaime Lopez (@Lopeezie) March 21, 2019
Woh!! So much emotions behind that smiling face of hers, truly @emiliaclarke is a khaleesi !!
— Mustafa Haveliwala (@mustafa_haveli) March 21, 2019
h/t: The New Yorker.