Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke (born 23 October 1986) is an English actress. Born in London and raised in Berkshire, Clarke studied at the Drama Centre London and appeared in a number of stage productions. Her television debut came with a guest appearance in an episode of the British soap opera Doctors. In 2010, she was named as one of the UK Stars of Tomorrow by Screen International magazine for her role in Syfy's film Triassic Attack (2010).
Clarke rose to prominence in 2011 for her breakthrough role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011–present), a performance that has gained her critical acclaim. She has been nominated for three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and two Critics Choice Television Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, among other accolades.
Clarke made her Broadway debut as Holly Golightly in a production of Breakfast at Tiffany's in 2013. In 2015, she was named Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive. She is also known for her starring roles as Sarah Connor in the science fiction film Terminator Genisys (2015) and as Louisa Clark in the romance film Me Before You (2016).
Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke was born in London on 23 October 1986, and grew up in Berkshire. Her father (died 10 July 2016) was a theatre sound engineer from Wolverhampton, West Midlands. Her mother, Jennifer Clarke, is the director of the charity The Anima Foundation. She has an older brother. Clarke's interest in acting began at the age of three after seeing the musical Show Boat, on which her father was working. She was educated at Rye St Antony School and at St Edward's School, Oxford, graduating in 2005. She attended Drama Centre London, and graduated in 2009.
Clarke's early work includes two plays at St. Edwards, ten plays at Drama Centre London, the 2009 Company of Angels production of Sense, and two 2009 commercials for Samaritans. One of her first film roles was for a University of London students' short film. Her first television roles were Saskia Mayer in a 2009 episode of the British soap opera Doctors and Savannah in Syfy's 2010 film Triassic Attack. Screen International magazine named her as one of the "UK Stars of Tomorrow".
In 2010 Clarke was cast as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. She was cast after fellow British actress Tamzin Merchant was replaced for undisclosed reasons. In an interview, Clarke stated that she did the funky chicken and robot dance during her audition. The show debuted in April 2011 to positive reviews and was quickly picked up by the network for a second season. Clarke won the 2011 EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her role as Daenerys. In 2013, Clarke was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. She was nominated again in the category in 2015 and 2016.
Clarke has received widespread praise for her performance. Her acting, as she closed Daenerys's arc initiated in the first episode from a frightened girl to an empowered woman, was praised. Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe called her scenes "mesmerizing", adding that "Clarke doesn't have a lot of emotional variety to work with as Daenerys, aside from fierce determination, and yet she is riveting." Todd VanDerWerff for The A.V. Club commented on the difficulty of adapting such an evolution from page to screen, but concluded that "Clarke [...] more than seal[s] the deal here. In 2017, Clarke reportedly became one of the highest paid actors on television, earning £2 million per episode of Game of Thrones.
In 2012, Clarke appeared in Spike Island, a film named after the location of The Stone Roses's seminal 1990 gig. From March to April 2013, Clarke played Holly Golightly in a Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany's. That year, she also starred in Dom Hemingway alongside Jude Law. Critical reaction to the film was mostly positive, though it was a commercial failure.
In May 2014, it was announced that she had joined the feature film Garden of Last Days alongside James Franco, but the movie was scrapped two weeks before production was due to begin. Clarke was offered the role of Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but turned down the part because of the nudity required. She played Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys (2015), opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, and Jason Clarke. The film grossed over $400 million worldwide, but received generally unfavorable reviews from critics, despite this she did receive nominations for awards like the Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Movie Star - Female and Germany's Jupiter Award for Best International Actress.
In 2016, Clarke starred as the female lead, opposite Sam Claflin, in the movie adaption of the best selling book (of the same name), Me Before You, released on 3 June 2016. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $200 million worldwide and is Clarke's highest-rated film on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. For her role as Louisa Clark, she shared nominations with Sam Claflin for the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liplock and the MTV Television Tearjerker Award.
She played the lead as Nurse Verena, in the film Voice from the Stone which was released on April 2017 in limited release, video on demand and digital HD.
Clarke is also set to be attached to the films The Guns of August opposite Helena Bonham Carter, Set It Up opposite Glen Powell, and Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. In November 2016, Clarke was cast as the female lead in Solo: A Star Wars Story, set to be released worldwide on 25 May 2018. In January 2017, Clarke was cast as the lead in the upcoming English language adaptation of the 2015 Korean romantic comedy, The Beauty Inside.
In 2012, Clarke began dating comedian and filmmaker Seth MacFarlane. The two broke up after approximately six months but remain friends.
As of October 2015, Clarke resides in Hampstead, London. In 2016, she purchased a $4.64 million house in Venice Beach, California.
Clarke was voted the most desirable woman in the world by AskMen readers in 2014. She was named Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015. On International Women's Day 2017, she published a well-received op-ed on HuffPost UK regarding modern feminism and encouraging gender equality. She was the cover feature for the edition of 13 July 2017 of Rolling Stone.