Emilia Clarke Remembers Her Broadway Debut As A “Catastrophic Failure”

“I was definitely not ready.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12:   Emilia Clarke attends the Alexander McQueen SS22 Womenswear show at ...
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Emilia Clarke’s turn as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones may have been a game-changer for her career, but the same can’t be said for her 2013 Broadway debut in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In fact, the English actor would go so far as to call it a “catastrophic failure.” Speaking to BBC News recently, Clarke opened up about her poorly received stint on Broadway and what scares her ahead of her upcoming West End debut in The Seagull.

The Drama Centre London grad was cast as Holly Golightly, the lead in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in the early years of her eight seasons on HBO’s hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Despite her stardom, the play didn’t exactly get rave reviews. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney suggested it was “time to call for a moratorium on stage adaptations” of the famed Truman Capote work after seeing the production and described Clarke as “strained.” The critic dubbed her character’s cat, on the other hand, “a scene-stealing treasure.” Although the Associated Press’ review was not nearly as impressed with Clarke’s feline co-star, it was lukewarm on her performance, too, saying she “gamely tries hard but tends to overact.”

In spite of the negative reviews, Clarke spoke “cheerfully” as she looked back on Breakfast at Tiffany’s, according to BBC News. “It was just not ready,” she told the outlet. “Was I ready? No, I was definitely not ready. I was a baby. I was so young and so inexperienced.”

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Now ready to debut as Nina in The Seagull, Clarke understandably has some fears about how the production will be received, especially given her Game of Thrones history. “It’s 10 times more frightening because there’ll be people wanting to go and say, ‘Well she can only act on camera, she clearly can’t act on stage,’ which is obviously the biggest fear,” she told BBC News. Still, “petrified” as she is, this is “something [she’s] wanted for so long.”

The Seagull — which modernizes Anton Chekov’s story of four artists — was initially supposed to open in March 2020. Thanks to the state of the world, however, it had to close after four preview performances amid theater shutdowns across the globe. The production is now finally ready for previews again, starting on June 29, before its official opening on July 6 at London’s Harold Pinter Theatre. Clarke stars alongside her former Game of Thrones co-star Indira Varma, as well as Tom Rhys Harries, Daniel Monks, and Sophie Wu.

Considering the long and tough road to this point, it’s not surprising that Clarke was especially thrilled to announce the play’s return when the time came. “Be still my beating heart it’s BACK!!!!!” she wrote on Instagram on Jan. 12. “The seagull is coming back baby and it feeeels sooooo goooood!!!!!! YOU CAN BUY YOUR TICKETS RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND! … Oh I cannot wait to get on that stage and relive this magical production a few years wiser.”