Emilia Clarke landed 'Game of Thrones' role by doing the funky chicken
Emilia Clarke wasn't always the first pick for "Game of Thrones'" Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen. Tazmin Merchant ("Jane Eyre," "The Tudors") was cast in the role for the pilot, though showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss opted to replace her with Clarke once the show got picked up to series.
Clarke believes she knows the reason behind the decision. In a profile by The Wall Street Journal, Clarke recalls the stunt she pulled in her audition that she feels clinched the role for her.
It all has to do with a story she tells from one of her first auditions. At age 10, her father took her to an open audition for a show in London's West End, but didn't realize she needed to prepare a song as well as well as her acting.
"I was learning a folk song in school about a donkey, so I decided to sing that," she says. "They said, 'Do you know anything more current?' I then gave them my best rendition of the Spice Girls, complete with dance moves -- that's where my musical career ended. It made me realize that I wasn't quite ready. I think my parents were trying to give me a healthy dose of realism early on."
On a dare from Benioff, she performed similar moves in front of HBO executives while pitching herself for "Game of Thrones." "I did the robot, followed by the funky chicken," she explains. "I think it sealed the deal."
Bottom line? Clarke has a much better sense of humor than her more reserved fantasy counterpart.
"She's effing funny," Benioff and Weiss tell the WSJ in a jointly composed e-mail. "Does that mean we've written hilarious scenes for her? No. But someone should."
They add, however, that her dance moves weren't what earned Clarke her role: It was her acting.
"We needed an actress who could convincingly embody both the timid, voiceless Dany we first meet, and the Mother of Dragons she later becomes," say Benioff and Weiss. "Some of the young women could do fearful but not fearsome -- one or two could do the reverse. Only Emilia nailed both."
"Game of Thrones" Season 4 premieres April 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.