No Red Wedding-level drama here! Tamzin Merchant has broken her silence about what it was like being recast by Emilia Clarke following the original Game of Thrones pilot—and it seems it all worked out for the best.
Though Game of Thrones, which ran from 2011 to 2019 on HBO, was one of the the most beloved shows in recent history, its original 2009 pilot didn't impress executives. Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were given another chance to make things better, which, clearly they did. That included recasting key characters, including making Emilia the show's new Mother of Dragons.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tamzin—who currently stars in Amazon's Carnival Row—admitted that she wasn't excited to play Daenerys Targaryen, the character Emilia would go on to play for eight seasons after the series reshot the original pilot. Tamzin called the experience a "really great lesson."
"It was a lesson that if my guts are telling me a story isn't something I'm excited to tell, then I shouldn't try to be excited just because other people are telling me that I should be excited," she explained. "I didn't have any training as an actor, I only have my instincts. And what excites me and what drives me is a compelling story and a compelling character."
Tamzin said she credited Emilia with bringing the character to life in a way she never could. "I think it's a testament to Emilia Clarke for making that role iconic. She was obviously excited to tell that story, and she was epic and excellent," she said. "But for me, it wasn't in my heart to tell it."
Fortunately, Emilia—who was an unemployed actor at the time of her GoT audition—was thrilled to secure the part, which earned her four Emmy nominations. While D.B. presented her with the Britannia Awards for British Artist of the Year in 2018, he recalled how she won over the HBO executives.
"Emilia asked if there was anything else she could do to lighten the mood and David asked, ‘Can you dance?' And without missing a beat, Emilia did the robot," he said, according to Variety. "She did it with commitment and she did it well, and even the president had no choice but to smile. She got the job 10 seconds after she left the room and the two of us ran to tell her before she left the building because letting her get on an 11-hour flight home without knowing seemed like cruel and unusual punishment."