Game of Thrones fans are quick to recognize Emilia Clarke as the show's most badass character, Daenerys Targaryen. Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, owner of way too many titles — Daenerys is a larger than life character, so you'd think that Clarke would have a hard time shedding the image of the platinum-haired queen for any other roles she takes on. But that's not the case in her newest film, as Emilia Clarke in Me Before You totally inhabits a role that is basically the polar opposite of Daenerys.
Obviously, there are physical differences between the two characters. As Daenerys, Clarke famously wears a blonde wig and dresses either in glamorous dresses fit for a queen or in rags, depending on her current situation. In Me Before You , Clarke stars as Lou, a quirky and chipper woman who has trouble holding onto a job until she becomes the caretaker for a disabled man. Not only does Emilia sport her natural brown hair in the role, but she also has a unique style all her own featuring unkempt buns and pigtails, wacky tights, chunky sweaters, and bright colors that often don't match. In other words, she doesn't look a thing like Daenerys.
But the differences don't end at the two characters' looks; their personalities are also vastly different. While Dany is a confident, serious, world conqueror who has spent her life hardening herself for her next challenge, Lou is meek, shy, and cheery. As it turns out, the latter is actually much closer to the real Clarke. "I was obsessed with My Fair Lady growing up," Clarke told Jonah Weiner of Glamour. "As an actor, you want to be able to show a character's growth. It's fulfilling. And I'm very close to Lou as a person. At school I was uncertain and unsure. So there was a sincerity that I was so desperate to play, because with Daenerys I've spent a career putting armor on."
In another recent interview with Kathryn Shattuck of The New York Times, Clarke reiterated how Lou is basically the character she was born to play. "I was utterly convinced that someone had found me and written me, Emilia, down,” she said. “It wasn’t even a question that I would do whatever it took to be able to play Lou ... Where we meet Lou (in the film) is very much where you would have met me when I was 15 and younger. Her naïveté and simplicity are what bring the comedy to play, because it’s done in this really open, innocent way in terms of her choices and how she lives her life. You see a girl growing up and discovering the things that will change her fundamentally, and that’s lovely to watch."
Also, as Lou, Clarke gets the chance to be funny — something the no-nonsense Dany never does, but an important part of the actor's real life persona. "It was so joyful and funny and I got to do all the things I always wanted to do," Clarke told The Mirror's Lara Kilner. "The director was like 'Do it! More! More!' I’m like, 'What? Yes! I get to really crack people up!' Everything I’m known for on-screen is so different from who I am but, with this, in between takes, I’d be no different."
So after five-and-a-half seasons of raising dragons and kicking ass on Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke finally gets to show a new side of herself in Me Before You — and it turns out that new side is pretty much just her natural old self.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; HBO