The Mother of Dragons
British actress Emilia Clarke shot to fame 10 years ago, courtesy of her portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones. With the show fast approaching its final season, the 32-year-old revealed that she experienced several life-threatening brain aneurysms, which started after the first season of the show wrapped. Late last month, Emilia opened up about her brain aneurysms in an emotional essay for The New Yorker. Moreover, she did a sit-down interview with CBS Sunday Morning, where she shared never-before-seen pictures from her procedures.
The piece, which was titled “A Battle for my Life” was a shock to fans and the general public, as the actress underwent her recovery in utmost secrecy. Emilia first realised that she was experiencing brain damage back in February 2011, after filming the first season of GoT. While at the gym, she experienced “the most excruciating pain,” which she likened a rubber band snapping inside her head that resulted in “an enormous amount of pressure.”
Emilia was then rushed into urgent surgery, as she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and bleeding inside the brain. In the letter, she spoke out on the effect that her diagnosis and surgery had on her mentally, writing, “I’d never experienced fear like that — a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name. In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job—my entire dream of what my life would be-centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost.”
Six weeks after her first procedure, the actress returned to the set of the HBO show, where she thought that she was about to die “every minute of every day.” Two years later, Emilia suffered a second aneurysms, and this one was life-threatening. Turns out there was another swollen blood vessel developing in her brain, and the surgery required going through her skull. In her interview with CBS, she went into more detail regarding the second procedure.
“The second one, there was a bit of my brain that actually died. If a part of your brain doesn’t get blood to it, it will just no longer work. It’s like your short circuit. So, I had that and they didn’t know what it was.” The actress feared that the malfunctioning part of her brain would effect her acting, and make her forget her line, “Clarke was worried that the malfunctioning part of her brain would affect her acting skills or ability to remember lines. “That was a deep paranoia, from the first one as well,” she explained. “I was like, ‘What if something has short circuited in my brain and I can’t act anymore?’ Literally, it’s been my reason for living for a very long time.
Emilia did reveal that playing Daenerys helped keep her going, saying, “You go on the set, and you play a badass character, and you walk through fire and you speak to hundreds of people, and you’re being asked to work as hard as you possibly can. And that became the thing that just saved me from considering my own mortality.”
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