Emilia Clarke’s Iconic Role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones Nearly Slipped Away to a $5 Million Actor

The unaired pilot episode of Game of Thrones originally cast Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys Targaryen. Explore the story of how Emilia Clarke narrowly avoided losing her iconic role to Tamzin.

"Emilia Clarke's Audition: Unconventional and Memorable"
“Emilia Clarke’s Audition: Unconventional and Memorable”

In the epic saga of “Game of Thrones,” Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen is etched in the annals of television history. However, the road to her iconic role was not without its twists and turns.

Initially, it was Tamzin Merchant, known for her roles in “The Tudors” and “Carnival Row,” who stepped into the shoes of Daenerys. Her performance in the unaired pilot garnered praise, particularly for scenes like Dany’s marriage to Khal Drogo and their early intimate encounter, which, interestingly, had a different tone compared to what eventually aired.

Yet, despite the initial accolades, something crucial was missing – chemistry. Jason Momoa, who portrayed Khal Drogo, revealed that the magic truly happened when Emilia Clarke joined the cast.

Surprisingly, it was Tamzin Merchant herself who contemplated leaving the show. Her initial lack of enthusiasm for the project led her to consider an exit. She later reflected on the significance of following her instincts rather than forcing excitement for a role.

In contrast, Emilia Clarke had no intention of letting go of the role. Her audition for Daenerys was a standout moment in her career journey. In a surprising twist, she dazzled the casting team with a display of unconventional talents, including the “funky chicken” and robot dance moves, all fueled by Diet Coke. Casting director Nina Gold found this refreshing and noted how it brought a moment of levity to the auditions.

Emilia Clarke’s determination and unique approach ultimately paved the way for her to become the Mother of Dragons in one of the most acclaimed television series of all time. Her journey from uncertainty to embracing the iconic role is a testament to the unpredictable paths that can lead to greatness in the world of entertainment.

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