'Me Before You' Gives Emilia Clarke A Chance To Shine Outside Of 'Game Of Thrones'
For all of the time that audiences have known Emilia Clarke, we've only seen her as Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen on Game of Thrones . She is "The Unburnt." Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. The Mother of Dragons. Breaker of Chains. Yet as great as it is to see a woman take on such an awesome, serious role on one of the most popular shows on TV, it's a breath of fresh air to finally see her doing something different — namely, goofing off and having a ton of fun. In the new film Me Before You , Clarke gets to play a character who's unlike anything she's done before, and she gives such a charming performance that it solidifies her as a multi-talented actor capable of being a true movie star.
Me Before You, an adaptation of Jojo Moyes' best-selling novel of the same name, tells the tear-jerking story of a young woman named Louisa Clark and a quadriplegic man named Will Traynor. Louisa is struggling to find a job, and takes a gig caring for Will, who's less than thrilled to have her as his caretaker. Will has a bad attitude, a fondness for dark, abrasive music, and little hope for the future. Louisa, meanwhile, is goofy, clumsy, quirky, and above all things, positive. At first, Will finds Louisa a nuisance; her bubbly presence is a reminder of all the things he cannot do. But as the two spend more time together (and if you can't tell from the trailer, fall in love) they each learn what the other has to offer. For Louisa, it's Will's insistence that she believe in herself, stop disparaging herself, and try new things. For Will, it's Louisa's positive attitude and happy personality, which soon become infectious.
And it's Clarke's characterization of Louisa that turns out to be exactly what the actor's career has been missing so far. It's not that she hasn't taken on any non-Thrones roles; in 2015, for instance, she took over the part of Sarah Connor for 2015's Terminator Genisys. Yet that casting didn't come as a surprise, as Clarke is so effective as Daenerys on Thrones that playing another powerful, weapon-wielding woman seemed a natural fit. But that role brought much of the same seriousness and brooding that we've come to expect on GoT, and it seemed like Clarke's range was a bit one-note.
Thankfully, Me Before You allows her to shine and play a role unlike anything fans have ever seen her do. Louisa's vulnerability is something rarely seen in Daenerys. It's jarring to see the same woman who plays the Mother of Dragons tap so well into the feeling of self-doubt and deprecation – and that's in addition to her hilarious comedic chops. Who knew Clarke was so freaking funny? Fans have gotten slow glimpses of her own personal silliness, whether it be from the pranks she pulls on the GoT set, her celebrity impressions, or her fun accents. But Louisa is the first time we've seen her incorporate those personality traits into a character. From her mannerisms, to her hugely emotive eyebrows, to her many goofy faces, Clarke lets Louisa imbue her entire body. And while Will and Louisa's romance is the heart of Me Before You, it's Clarke's performance that actually carries this movie.
Which is a great argument for why the book's sequel, After You, should be made into a film (spoilers ahead!). Now that audiences have seen that Clarke can not only successfully lead a romantic dramedy but even, at times, outshine her co-star, we have all the proof we need that she can and should set out on her own in a sequel. The material is there; Moyes' second novel finds Louisa coping with Will's death and trying to make the life for herself that Will would have wanted her to have. Right now, there don't seem to be any firm plans to adapt After You into a film, but considering that the book is a bestseller, and Me Before You will likely be successful, it's definitely possible that the big-screen sequel will come along and Clarke will get her chance to shine. Now that she's introduced this quirky, funny, captivating character to the world, it's inevitable that people will want — and get — more.
Images: Warner Bros., Giphy