Emilia Clarke could not remember her name: an illness almost ended her career and her life


Daenerys Targaryen established herself as one of the most powerful women on television. For eight seasons, Emilia Clarke was responsible for embodying the legendary Mother of Dragons. However, in the early years of Game of Thrones, Clarke was about to say goodbye not only to this legendary character, but also to his own life.

daenerys targaryen game of thrones
HBO / Broadcast

After the success of the first season, the British actress recognized that this role was the beginning of a successful career in the medium. However, his health had a very unpleasant surprise in store for him: a life-threatening brain aneurysm.

Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I almost lost my mind and then my life.

got khaleesi serie
Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Emilia Clarke revealed in an insightful and personal article for The New Yorkerthe terrible episode she experienced when her brain announced the first of two aneurysms that struck her in the early years of Game of Thrones.

On February 11, 2011, during her physical training, the actress felt a terrible headache that she tried to ignore at first but the pain grew to such a degree that she knew by herself that something was wrong with her brain.

On some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.

emilia clarke game of thrones panel 2011 winter tca
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

As pain raged through her life, the newly born Daenerys Targaryen tried to stay in the here and now as she dug into her memory and tried to say her lines of Game of Thrones but from one moment to another everything was clouded.

The journey to the hospital was a blurry period: paramedics were talking about his vital signs, the ambulance siren sounded in the distance, a call to his parents to notify them of his condition.

After an MRI (a scan of the brain), Emilia Clarke knew that it was threatening her life: a cerebral aneurysm, that is to say a small bulge that forms in a blood vessel in the brain, had a rupture that started a lethal bleeding.

This brain hemorrhage is life threatening, with about a third of patients who suffer from it die immediately or shortly after the condition.

Once Clarke knew her condition, she immediately went to the operating room where the doctors did everything possible to combat the bleeding. The actress says that despite how alarming everything was, the surgery was “minimally invasive”, that is, they did not open the skull, but from an artery in the groin, a small cable was inserted and traveled to the brain to seal the aneurysm.

This would not be my last surgery and it would not be the worst. He was twenty-four years old.

In this type of operation, the first weeks of recovery are key. Doctors notified Emilia and told her that she had to get to the two-week mark without serious complications in order to have a high chance of a good recovery.

However, one night after the crucial mark was passed, a nurse asked her name and Emilia simply couldn’t say it.

I couldn’t remember it. Instead, nonsensical words came out of my mouth and I panicked.

The babbling caused the actress to feel a terrible fear and a sense of doom. He thought that it was no longer worth living. As an actress, not being able to communicate implied that she was no longer going to have a career and that discouraged Emilia so much that she even asked the medical staff to let her die.

I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I’m an actress, I need to remember my lines. Now I can’t remember my name.

me before you phrases from the movie
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Fortunately, this bout of nonsense babbling was brief and Emilia got over it. After a month of hospitalization, the actress was victorious but the headaches of recovery were a constant during the filming of the second season of GoT.

In addition, the actress was warned of a second aneurysm that threatened the other side of her brain, which had to be checked regularly to avoid serious consequences.

Season 2 would be my worst. He didn’t know what Daenerys was doing. To be honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.

In 2013, after finishing filming the third season, Clarke was admitted to the hospital for a second surgery. In this case, there was no previous bleeding so it was a little more calm. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a simple operation ended in emergency surgery where Emilia’s skull had to be opened to stop a massive bleeding that was generated during the procedure.

My chances of survival were precarious if they did not operate again. This time they needed to access my brain the old-fashioned way, through my skull.

Clarke came out of the operating room and hopelessness, anxiety and panic attacks accompanied her for several weeks. After a month of recovery and with a skull with a pair of titanium plates, the actress was discharged and thus began a challenging recovery process away from the hospital.

Fortunately, years later, the actress enjoys good health, a very good memory, great success and recognition for having played Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, as well as a great career ahead.

Additionally, Emilia founded SameYou, a charity that provides treatment to patients recovering from brain injuries and strokes.

emilia clarke retrato
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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Emilia Clarke could not remember her name: an illness almost ended her career and her life