Emilia Clarke has ‘no regrets’ about turning down the lead in ‘Fifty Shades’


In preparation for Game of Thrones taking over my life starting in April, I’ve been watching DVDs of the previous GoT seasons. I’ve even been listening to the DVD commentary. On one episode, I listened to Emilia cheerfully gush about every single actress on the show. There is no question in my mind that Emilia loves playing the Mother of Dragons/Dany and that she loves being part of such a dynamic show featuring so many strong performances from so many actresses. She came across really well, and she seems very genuine in her girl-power-rah-rah-ness.

Anyway, Emilia covers the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a lovely shoot, and I always enjoy seeing her with her naturally dark hair (she wears a wig on GoT). Emilia talks to THR about her role as Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys, why she didn’t want to do Fifty Shades of Grey (whoa, she would have been perfect for that) and her stardom as the Mother of Dragons. Oh, and here’s something I didn’t know: she’s currently dating Jai Courtney. He’s cute! He was in Unbroken. He seems a bit bro-y, but I bet they work well together.

Emilia on the success of GoT: “Never in a million years did I think Game of Thrones was going to take off like it did. It’s taken me five years to catch up with it. I’m still not sure I’m there.”

She was offered the lead in Fifty Shades of Grey: “No regrets… I’d done nudity before and was concerned with being labeled for doing it again.”

How no one recognizes her without her GoT-wig: “I get to play other roles without the comparison of being Daenerys, which I think is so lucky.”

She hasn’t been doing much nudity on GoT these days: “There are other women who remove items of clothing on our show, so they’ve kind of got my nipple count down now.”

[From THR]

So, Emilia says that she was outright offered the role of Anastasia Steele? I can see why they wanted her – she really would have been great for the part. She’s appropriately young-looking, she’s beautiful, and she’s got a quiet sexiness. I wonder if this means that Dakota Johnson was Sam Taylor Johnson’s second choice?

Oh, and there are some interesting details about the money for GoT too, if you’re interested (I’m always interested in hearing about the money). Some sources tell THR that Emilia will be getting about $7 million a season by the seventh season, but Emilia denies that number in the interview, saying it’s “not even close.” But she doesn’t deny the other rumor, which is that she, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau banded together to collectively renegotiate their contracts and a pay raise. That’s pretty cool, if true (I bet it’s true).


Photos courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

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47 Responses to “Emilia Clarke has ‘no regrets’ about turning down the lead in ‘Fifty Shades’”

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  1. QQ says:

    …as she well damned shouldn’t that woulda been 621842692 Steps DOWN

    • paola says:

      She’s far too talented to play Anastasia Steele.

      • Franca says:

        She’s a mediocre actress at best, Dakota is better.

        I always wonder how the actress that played Dany in the pilot feels now that the show became so huge

      • paola says:

        i don’t think I’ve ever seen the pilot! Was it aired? I remember Emilia being Danaerys in the first episode of season 1

      • Shijel says:

        I think she’s quite a wooden actress. But I like her in interviews a lot, she’s a dear, and that makes me happy to see her in roles regardless of being a bit mediocre an actress.

      • paola says:

        I meant to say that the real Anastasia Steele, the one from the books, is so flat out boring, with no personality or depths. Emilia might not be the best actress but she would have been wasted on that role.

      • Ethelreda says:


        I’ve always wondered why Tamzin Merchant – who played Catherine Howard in ”The Tudors” – was replaced by Emilia Clarke after the pilot. Clearly, test audiences were not impressed by her, but is Emilia so much better? I think that other than the ‘actress’ who played Shae, she’s the worst of the GoT cast and I’ve never really understood the hype about her looks either.

      • Seán says:

        I don’t think Emilia’s an awful actress. Like Kit Harrington, she’s good when she has the right material. Season 1 was her strongest arc in the show and she was excellent in that season. Most critics were praising her performance back then but people seemed to sour towards her work from Season 2 onwards. I think she’s far from the best on the show but she makes a good Daenerys for the most part. Her delivery of Valyrian is fantastic – Diana Rigg was very impressed in the audio commentary for Season 3 when Dany orders the Unsullied to kill the masters at Astapor.

        And I believe Jennifer Ehle was in the pilot. Michelle Fairley stated that she never did the pilot in an Aussie interview with Lena Headey and that somewhere out there is the unaired one, presumably starring Jennifer Ehle (Fairley just mentions another actress).

    • bettyrose says:

      That’s an understatement.

    • Linn says:

      No, the pilot was never aired.

    • LadyMTL says:

      ITA. Regardless of how you feel about Emilia’s acting skills, signing on to FSOG would have been a bad move for the Mother of Dragons. I’m glad that she turned it down.

    • Mom2two says:

      Emilia, to me, is one of the weakest actors on the show (right on the bench with Kit Harington). Tamzin Merchant did have her role in the original pilot of GoT. Jennifer Ehle was originally Catelyn Stark in that pilot. Both actresses were recast, obviously.
      I think Emilia is all wrong for Sarah Conner ( Tatiana Masalany anyone?) but not doing 50 Shades was really smart on Emilia’s part.
      I would not be surprised if she, Harington, Dinklage, Headly and Coster-Waldau banded together for a raise as they are considered the stars of the show.

      • Ethelreda says:

        I don’t think Jennifer Ehle was in the pilot. She was originally cast as Catelyn Stark but pulled out because she had a baby and didn’t want to commit to a long-term project far from her home. At least I think that’s what happened.

        Tamzin Merchant is another story. Like I said above, I’m curious as to why she was dropped in favour of Emilia. Going by her work on ”The Tudors” she doesnt’ seem to be much of an actress but then again, Emilia Clarke is hardly Cate Blanchett. Tamzin obviously didn’t appeal to the test audiences. I wonder why? Gotta hurt to be so near to a role in a huge TV series, and then be told nobody liked you. Ouch!

      • Bob says:

        I love Maslany and agree she would’ve been a good pick, but I think Clarke will do a good job as Sarah Connor. She’s got a great voice for expressing strength. Her delivery of “come with me if you want to live” in the preview was terrific. I’m not sure the movie will be any good, but I’ll be surprised if people say that it’s her fault.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I love Tatiana Masalany, and would love her to be in anything and everything worthy of her talent!

  2. EC says:

    She is gorgeous!! God I hope her character DOES SOMETHING this season. I got so bored with her story line. More sex with Dario would be a good start, unleashing the dragons would be a nice follow up. I cannot wait!!

  3. SypherMomma says:

    I can’t imagine that a woman who takes such pride in playing a badass warrior woman would be interested in such a shite character as AS in FSOG. So happy she turned it down, can’t wait for April 12th!

  4. Carolina says:

    I think she is so beautiful. And I’m glad she turned down fifty shades.

  5. atrain says:

    FSOG is the only movie I can think of that has had so many actors and actresses speak about turning down a role. Sure, every once in a while you hear that an actor had to turn down a role because of scheduling or whatnot, but this is the only movie that several people have discussed passing on.

  6. INeedANap says:

    She seems very happy-go-lucky, and she’s really hit her stride as Daenerys.

  7. Chihiro says:

    She is so beautiful, her acting leaves something to be desired though. Good for her that she turned down 50 Shades, I must say though that I thought it was considered bad form for actors to say which roles they turned down. Recently it seems like everybody and their mother has been coming forward to say that they turned down 50 Shades. I’m not blaming her (she might have been asked specifically if she was offered the part), it’s just interesting to me.

    • belle de jour says:

      I’m a bit old-school in that regard; I still think it’s tacky & bad form, and certainly not very gracious to the actors who were not front-runners yet did take on a role.

      • Belle Epoch says:

        Is it bad taste to talk about roles you were offered? Seems like a code of silence is far preferable. Maybe someone asked her the question flat out. Still – seems like who gets what role is a crapshoot and best left alone. She really doesn’t win any points for saying “Ew.”

    • inner stillness says:

      It’s done all the time in interviews but in more subtle ways, this is not a recent phenomenon it’s just that actors usually say things such as …” There were scheduling conflicts” ….or “There was an offer on the table, but my management, and I decided to accept a different vehicle, …or ” I was asked to audition and couldn’t or was’t available….or I was asked during the first script and was waiting for the new script to be finished when I heard it was already cast……etc…..
      ….or just some are direct and say ” I was offered the part and turned it down….as she did

      The thing is if you are not a household name yet, it’s best not to start your career out saying you turned things down…There’s a documentary about Hollywood and Jennifer Jason Leigh is a focus of one part of it, After she did Single White Female, she was on the hot list of actresses, directors and casting directors wanted for roles in A list films, major roles and she turned down so many star making vehicles, that she missed out on becoming a major star.

  8. Franca says:

    I like Emilia, but she’s not a very good actress. Emilia, Kit and the girl who plays Sansa are the weakest links in the cast.
    Having seen FSOG I think Dakota is a better actress than Emilia, she was the only good part about that movie.

    • Chihiro says:

      I agree with you about Emilia, but I think Kit has gotten better. I also think that Littlefinger (though Aiden Gillan is really good in other things) and Shae are both worse than Sansa in the acting department. I think Sophie Turner (Sansa) is kind of a mixed bag, she can be quite good, but also quite poor.

      • femputer says:

        Man, Littlefinger! I can’t think anything other than creepy creepy, ick ick when he’s onscreen! Maybe that’s what they intend? I don’t know. Have you noticed how he rarely looks any other actors in the eyes? He’s always staring an inch or few down, at their mouths I’d guess! It’s weird.

      • Chihiro says:

        His accent is really wonky, he sounds like he is trying to be Batman. Haha yeah, he does seem to stare at mouths a lot, especially Sophie’s, maybe it’s his way of showing Littlefinger is attracted to Sansa.

    • femputer says:

      I love Sansa! Sorry, I have to defend her when I see people saying she’s terrible. Sophie Turner took Sansa from being my least favorite protagonist in the books to one of my very favorite characters on the show. She keeps growing and changing and hasn’t stagnated as an actress. Her character has to be pretty reserved and sort of chained in the beginning, but I’m quite sure her role is going to get much much better. I expect great things from Sansa Stark!

      I love Sophie, I think she’s very beautiful and she excels at being reserved yet still showing every emotion in her eyes and on her face. For example, Joffrey & Margaery’s wedding and the dwarf war of the five kings play? I think Sansa had like 5 words of dialogue in that entire episode, but her thousand yard stare when that dwarf play was going on? Chills. Chills running down my spine! Plus she can cry on command and somehow look absolutely beautiful when she does. 🙂

      I respect your opinion, but I think Sophie is far from the worst on the show.

      • Franca says:

        Sansa is actually one of my favourite characters in the book. But Sophie is just so wooden as an actress, I don’t like her at all. And this may sound awful, but I amagined Sansa as much prettier while reading the books.

      • Chihiro says:

        Sansa was my favorite character in the books, and while I do think Sophie Turner is very pretty, I find her to be a more modern pretty (if that makes sense). I imagined Sansa to be more regal looking, or softer, sort of like Lea Seydoux or Holliday Grainger, and obviously I pictured her younger. I think that they make Sophie look quite harsh in the show, they give her such terrible hairstyles. So I understand where you are coming from with the looks comment.

      • Josefa says:

        I think Sophie is a great Sansa. People complain she sounds a lot like she’s reciting, but I think that’s more or less the point. She’s obligated to always behave lady-like and cute in a circle of people who have murdered her family and made her life a living hell. Of course she’s not gonna sound very genuine.

        Same goes for Kit, really. Jon’s chapters are mostly inner emo monologues, the only way to translate that to the screen is have an actor who looks sad all the time. Is he talented? Lol, no. But he was well casted there.

    • A.Key says:

      “Emilia, Kit and the girl who plays Sansa are the weakest links in the cast.”


      • mom2two says:

        Sophie Turner is very hit or miss for me. I thought she did some of her best acting on that show in the first two episodes of season 4 (when Sansa is mourning Robb and Catelyn and her reaction to the dwarf show at Joffrey and Margarey’s wedding…actually that whole scene had great reaction shots. Sansa, Tyrion, Oberyn, Varys, the Tyrells all looking disgusted. Meanwhile Cersei and Tywin enjoy it as does Tommen until Tyrion gives him a nudge. An all around well done scene.). But once she got out of Kings Landing…her acting went so-so again. She’s not the worst in my book but she’s middle of the pack for me.

  9. Tig says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how this movie keeps being brought up by actors who turned it down/were offered it/auditioned for it- Charlie H ( who did take it, then bailed), that model guy, some other TV actress, and now this one. Parts are offered/rejected all the time- it’s part and parcel of acting for a living.

  10. Lori says:

    No way could any of the scenes from FSOG compare to Dary/Khal Drogo. Smart move on her behalf.

    • Franca says:

      The Dany/Khal Drogo scene was full on rape. It was worse than FSOG.

      • Sarah says:

        It’s pretty pointless to apply modern morals to a fantasy story… sure he ‘raped’ her a few times but they grew to love each other when she asserted herself. He was no longer using her but cared for her. If you want to say it was rape, you should also say it was paedophilia as she was a child at the time!

  11. Apple Tart says:

    HBO is well known for not paying actors much. In return you get the platform of being on a quality show with tons of publicity. The Sopranos cast (minus James G. ) had to band together to get proper raises also.

  12. Micki says:

    So an young actor now defines by “approached for 50 Shades, refused it” or not approached at all….I find it funny.

  13. Lucy says:

    All Hail!! I’m so glad she turned it down too. And I love that she dating Jai!! I really like him, and he’s gorgeous. EDIT: anyone remember the rumors about her and James Franco? *shivers*

  14. cs says:

    Is anyone really that surprised that Dakota Johnson wasn’t the first choice for casting? The movie was getting such bad press before it came out for being ‘that BDSM movie’, I’m sure the casting directors searched for actors/actresses who already had a well-received public profile in hopes of gaining some public support. It speaks volumes that they only managed to settle for Dakota Johnson (and yes ‘settle’. Everyone can’t stop talking about how she’s good now, but remember what it was like before the movie came out. Most people thought it was bad casting and that she would be the weak link of the cast).

    • femputer says:

      I did think DJ was quite good in FSOG, but now I wonder how much of that was down to reshoots??? Do you remember the rumors several months ago that they had to do reshoots because DJ was a ‘dishrag’ onscreen? I do know some scenes in the movie were slightly different from ones we saw in the trailer. Makes me wonder if the reshoots were kind of a hail mary, ‘come on girl, pull something out here, we can’t send this poo to theaters,’ sort of thing.

  15. ali.hanlon says:

    DJ was over acting in FSOG. And JD was plain creepy.

    Everyone should line up and say they turned down a role in that crap movie.

  16. taxi says:

    Emilia is far more interesting looking as a blonde, imo. I’ve never seen either she or the Sansa actress in anything else, so I don’t know if either is a good actress. Was Sansa just written as a dull character or is her portrayer a boring actress? Zero personality that I can see.