Emilia Clarke Reveals She Had Two Brain Aneurysms While Filming ‘Game of Thrones’

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.”

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 Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium.

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.

h/t: The New Yorker.

Lex Gabrielle

A mom of two who loves to spend her free time writing about life, love, and all the little moments in between.

I have a bachelor’s degree in media studies and journalism and two master’s degrees in education. When I’m not writing and chasing my two kids around, I teach journalism full-time.