Spoilers ahead, obviously.
RIP Daenerys Targaryen, you complicated lady.
Dany said her final goodbye in Sunday's series finale of Game of Thrones in a shocking moment just as she reached the Iron Throne. She asked Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to rule alongside her, and as they embraced, he stabbed her in the heart.
Emilia Clarke told EW in an incredible final interview that she had to read that part of the script seven times to fully understand what was happening.
"What, what, what, WHAT!?" she was thinking. "Because it comes out of f—king nowhere. I'm flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming."
She said that after she read the scene, her final scene ever, she cried and went for a walk.
"I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn't come back for five hours. I'm like, ‘How am I going to do this?'"
Ever since the last episode, in which Dany ignored the fact that the city of King's Landing had surrendered and ordered Drogon to burn the city and all of its inhabitants to the ground, fans have been divided over whether the move was really earned. Had we seen enough of Dany's journey to make sense of her suddenly killing all those innocent people, or was it rushed? Was this really what her entire story had been leading up to?
It sounds like Clarke herself wrestled with these questions to the point where she was calling her family to ask them strange questions like whether they thought Daenerys was a good person, and if there was anything Daenerys could do that would make them hate her.
Clarke even summed up Dany's story for EW in "a single breathless monologue."
"She genuinely starts with the best intentions and truly hopes there isn't going to be something scuttling her greatest plans," she says. "The problem is [the Starks] don't like her and she sees it. She goes, ‘Okay, one chance.' She gives them that chance and it doesn't work and she's too far to turn around. She's made her bed, she's laying in it. It's done. And that's the thing. I don't think she realizes until it happens — the real effect of their reactions on her is: ‘I don't give a s—t.' This is my whole existence. Since birth! She literally was brought into this world going, ‘Run!' These f—kers have f—ked everything up, and now it's, ‘You're our only hope.' There's so much she's taken on in her duty in life to rectify, so much she's seen and witnessed and been through and lost and suffered and hurt. Suddenly these people are turning around and saying, ‘We don't accept you.' But she's too far down the line. She's killed so many people already. I can't turn this ship around. It's too much. One by one, you see all these strings being cut. And there's just this last thread she's holding onto: There's this boy. And she thinks, ‘He loves me, and I think that's enough.' But is it enough? Is it? And it's just that hope and wishing that finally there is someone who accepts her for everything she is and…he f—king doesn't."
And she does not feel sorry for Jon Snow, who was sent away to the Night's Watch for the rest of his life as punishment/a compromise for killing the queen.
"Um, he just doesn't like women does he?" she joked. "He keeps f—king killing them. No. If I were to put myself in his shoes I'm not sure what else he could have done aside from … oh, I dunno, maybe having a discussion with me about it? Ask my opinion? Warn me? It's like being in the middle of a phone call with your boyfriend and they just hang up and never call you again. ‘Oh, this great thing happened to me at work today—hello?' And that was 9 years ago…"
As for whether she agrees with Dany's decisions, Clarke says, "I stand by Daenerys. I stand by her! I can't not," but that doesn't mean her feelings aren't complicated.
"It was a f—king struggle reading the scripts," she said. "What I was taught at drama school...I was told that your character is right. Your character makes a choice and you need to be right with that. An actor should never be afraid to look ugly. We have uglier sides to ourselves. And after 10 years of working on this show, it's logical. Where else can she go? I tried to think what the ending will be. It's not like she's suddenly going to go, ‘Okay, I'm gonna put a kettle on and put cookies in the oven and we'll just sit down and have a lovely time and pop a few kids out.' That was never going to happen. She's a Targaryen."
"I thought she was going to die," she continued. "I feel very taken care of as a character in that sense. It's a very beautiful and touching ending. Hopefully, what you'll see in that last moment as she's dying is: There's the vulnerability—there's the little girl you met in season 1. See? She's right there. And now, she's not there anymore…"
So it sounds like as bad as we're all feeling about Daenerys right now, it's not even close to how Emilia Clarke has been feeling for two years.
The entire EW interview is gold, especially the part where Harington didn't read the scripts ahead of time, and Clarke nearly lost it sitting on the plane to Belfast next to him...until she got to watch him cry as he realized what happened during the table read.
Game of Thrones aired on HBO.