In Last Christmas, the holiday romantic comedy premiering on Nov. 8, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke gets a chance to show off not only her comedic chops but also her musical ability. Her character Kate, a young woman who dreams of performing instead of working as a retail elf, gets the honor of singing the movie's title track, Wham!'s holiday classic. And make no mistake: that's Emilia Clarke singing in Last Christmas — and that was important for her, albeit intimidating. "I don't do my own stunts but I do do my own singing," she recently told Entertainment Tonight.
When audiences meet Kate, she's nearly given up on her goals after a health complication nearly killed her. Now, she works as an elf at a year-round holiday store in London, where her boss, Santa (Michelle Yeoh), berates her for her laziness, lateness, and general inability to pull her life back together. Later, in traditional meet-cute fashion, she encounters Tom (Henry Golding), a kind and handsome stranger who has a habit of disappearing. Regardless, he helps her rediscover herself, including her love of singing — beyond flubbing the odd audition.
Music is one of the key elements of Last Christmas, inspired as it is by the music of George Michael. "It's not a musical, but George's music affects the story," director Paul Feig told BBC News. "There are a couple of sections where the actors are actually interacting with the music and other sections where George's music is driving, or underscoring the story." Clarke's rendition of "Last Christmas," which you can hear in the trailer, is just a taste of the Michael catalog on offer in this movie.
Though Clarke hasn't starred in any musicals just yet, there may be one in her future. In 2013, she starred as Holly Golightly in a Broadway version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, in which she sang Marlon Williams' "Traveling Creature." At the 2018 American Songbook Gala in New York, she belted out "The Way You Look Tonight" on the Lincoln Center stage. Also last year, Clarke showed off her pipes in an ad for Dolce & Gabbana, singing the 1962 Italian pop song "Quando, Quando, Quando."
In more comedic fashion, she busted out a Daenerys-themed reggae verse for a Red Nose Day sketch in 2015. The bit was that Coldplay wrote a Game of Thrones musical and featured Clarke singing some truly terrible rhymes about Khaleesi being the "Rastafarian Targaryen."
In another funny Game of Thrones-related appearance, Clarke proved her Dothraki fluency by singing part of Hanson's "MMMBop" in the fictional language. She wasn't exactly performing all out in this 2016 visit to Late Night With Seth Meyers, but it's still pretty impressive that she can translate even nonsense lyrics on command.
Regardless of her experience, the idea of singing in Last Christmas was still stressful for the star. "Oh, it was incredibly nerve-wracking, because I care so much about singing, and I'm genuinely at my happiest when I am singing," Clarke told NPR. She added that her nerves just before she sings make her feel like she's "getting tonsillitis, or [her] throat is closing up." She made it work, but the actor said "it took a lot of courage."
Fans wanting to hear more of that talent — specifically in Clarke's rendition of "Last Christmas" — will have to head to theaters to hear it in full. The Last Christmas soundtrack, out the same day as the movie, includes Wham!'s original rendition and 14 other George Michael tracks.