Emilia Clarke: Game of Thrones producers manipulated me into doing more nudity

Julia Roberts at premiere of "Red Corner"

Emilia Clarke was naked a lot in Game of Thrones, the first season especially. In later seasons, Emilia’s character, Daenerys, would still drop trou, but often it would shot around her so nothing was really showing, or the brief nudity would be “empowering” for Dany. But yeah, the first season was bad – Emilia was constantly in a state of undress. I thought/hoped that was probably all contractual, and worked out with Emilia and her agents far in advance. Turns out, not so much. Emilia chatted with Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast, which you can hear here. Emilia spoke about how she was basically pressured and manipulated by producers to do more nudity than her contract covered.

Emilia Clarke has revealed that she once refused to perform a nude scene on the set of a project, despite being told that it would “disappoint” her Game of Thrones fans. While discussing on-screen nudity with Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert, the Last Christmas actor recalled being asked to perform a nude scene she hadn’t agreed to in advance.

“I’m a lot more savvy [now] with what I’m comfortable with, and what I am okay with doing,” she explained. “I’ve had fights on set before where I’m like, ‘No, the sheet stays up’, and they’re like, ‘You don’t wanna disappoint your Game of Thrones fans’. And I’m like, ‘F*** you.’”

Clarke also revealed that she felt overwhelmed by what she described as the “f*** ton of nudity” in the first season of Game of Thrones. “I took the job and then they sent me the scripts and I was reading them, and I was, like, ‘Oh, there’s the catch!’” she remembered. “But I’d come fresh from drama school, and I approached [it] as a job – if it’s in the script then it’s clearly needed, this is what this is and I’m gonna make sense of it… Everything’s gonna be cool.”

She continued: “So I came to terms with that beforehand, but then going in and doing it… I’m floating through this first season and I have no idea what I’m doing, I have no idea what any of this is. I’ve never been on a film set like this before, I’d been on a film set twice before then, and I’m now on a film set completely naked with all of these people, and I don’t know what I’m meant to do and I don’t know what’s expected of me, and I don’t know what you want and I don’t know what I want… Regardless of there being nudity or not, I would have spent that first season thinking I’m not worthy of requiring anything, I’m not worthy of needing anything at all… Whatever I’m feeling is wrong, I’m gonna cry in the bathroom and then I’m gonna come back and we’re gonna do the scene and it’s gonna be completely fine.”

She went on to explain that it was only while working with Aquaman actor Jason Momoa, who played her on-screen love interest Khal Drogo, that she realised that she could set her own rules about how much of her body she was willing to show. “It was definitely hard,” she said. “Which is why the scenes, when I got to do them with Jason, were wonderful, because he was like, ‘No, sweetie, this isn’t okay.’ And I was like, ‘Ohhhh.’”

[From The Independent]

Big props to Jason Momoa for doing something to protect her and for telling her that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Jason and Emilia are still very close, and I get the feeling that’s how it was from the start, that he was protective of her. Iain Glen was another one – I remember interviews with him where he spoke about how green and inexperienced she was in the first season and how he would often try to figure out ways where Emilia would not have to be so naked in front of so many people on set. But yeah, GoT producers were gross and exploitative. We knew that. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss ruined all of it.

Also: I’ve been reading a lot of those actress-roundtable discussions and actor-on-actor series, and some of the actresses have been talking about the immediate changes they saw when #MeToo and Time’s Up started happening. Films have been hiring “intimacy” coaches or various protective middlemen to come in whenever there is a sex scene or when an actor is nude, and the coach is there to tell the director what is and is not allowed contractually and to stand up for the actresses, etc. The actresses seem to like the protective measures being taken now, although clearly those practices are A) very recent and B) not widespread.

dany stark

Photos courtesy of WENN and HBO/GoT.

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53 Responses to “Emilia Clarke: Game of Thrones producers manipulated me into doing more nudity”

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  1. Cidy says:

    Good on her for coming out about this, I’m sure a lot of young actors and actresses are pushed this same way. I’m glad there were people around her trying to protect her.

    • detritus says:

      She spoke about it very well.

      It shows how insidious this type of behaviour is too. They did it with her knowing she didn’t have the experience. It’s so gross.

  2. Sayrah says:

    Ugh, I hate to read that she needed Iain and Jason to protect her from those assholes but I’m glad they did.

    • Lucy says:

      Me too. I’d hate to learn about either of them being d*cks about it. Glad it was not the case.

    • Lou says:

      Makes me like Jason even more than I already did! Though it’s a shame the bar is so low now that a Hollywood man showing basic decency is something to applaud lol.

    • JanetDR says:

      Same! On a personal note, one thing I hate about HBO shows is they always do a lot a nudity and I am just not comfortable with it. We all have functional imaginations and it’s just not necessarily.

  3. Mumbles says:

    I remember the finale of the first season where she emerges from the fire completely naked, full-frontal, and getting pissed at how exploitative it was. They could have done a quick long shot and than a close up to her shoulders-up with her new little friends.

    • Amelie says:

      Plus didn’t she do two naked fire scenes? I’m sure it was not fun for her to film at all but it remains one of the most iconic scenes in the whole series–Daenerys walking from the ashes of the fire with three baby dragons on her shoulders and yes we know her clothes burned off in the fire… in a way I always thought her being nude in that scene was kind of empowering?

      But then they had to repeat it the season where Daenerys gets kidnapped by the Dothraki (when she flies off with Drogon from the slave pits and lands randomly and she gets found by Dothraki). She gets rescued by Jorah, Tyrion, and… someone else? And she ends up burning all the Dothraki captors by using fire and showing the Dothraki she is impervious to fire… she was naked for that scene too. Great visuals but it didn’t have to be repeated.

  4. Anya says:

    I thought it was interesting that Jason Momoa was one of the people protecting her. Although it was changed for the show, in the books his character also didn’t push her to have sex with him, even though his society was pressuring it.

    • KL says:

      Fun fact: D&D changed the scene from the books because they didn’t think Drogo attempting to negotiate SOME measure of consent with his child bride was “realistic.”

    • Marigold says:

      That made me so angry when I saw it the first time. The relationship Drogo and Dany have in the books is beautiful because he is the first man in her life who didn’t exploit her and force her. Despite overwhelming cultural pressure and not knowing her from Adam, he is considerate of her and kind to her and waits for her consent. He shows her respect in front of men and defers to her judgment on things. The whole point of that relationship in the books was the self-realization and empowerment Dany received from being treated as a person and a peer and a partner by this “savage” when every civilized man in her life had treated her as an inanimate thing.

      Then here comes the show–missing the point entirely–and ruining it. For what? Shock value, I suppose.

      • Christina says:

        The book was for readers. The TV show was made and produced by men who don’t care and who are comfy-cozy in their status. They should have consulted more with the author, but Hollywood is about men and their sex drives. I read once that when Ava Gardner first came to Hollywood as a teen, they hired her because all of the producers who were at that first interview wanted to fuck her. Her ability to get them hard made her worth money on screen. This came out when she died.

        This Hollywood attitude has permeated the greater Los Angeles area. It truly sucks, and it’s one of the reasons I left my hometown: the industry supports a culture of using women, and it’s part of the DNA of LA. Sure, women are in power there, too, but they don’t have enough power or money to change it, and even Sherry Lansing wasn’t powerful enough to do it because she had to work within the Hollywood framework. It’s so ironic that Polanski made Chinatown. Chinatown rings so damn true in so many ways, down to the director drugging and raping a teenager. Polanski’s victim was 13, I think. Dunaway’s character was raped by her father at 15. Feminism in business there is all, “let him THINK he’s in charge. As long as he (the boss) thinks that, we are good.” No one makes men confront who THEY are and why they view women almost exclusively as sex and objects because it jeapordizes the meager gains women have made, and they promote all of that misogyny with the entertainment that is produced and distributed throughout the world, like the British Royal Family does.

        Sorry. Preaching to the choir again…

      • ParlerBleu says:

        @Christina Thanks for that. I live and work in LA and what you said rang so true. The industry’s seediness really does permeate the whole culture of the city. Sometimes you feel it is all in your mind because everyone is so shallow and dumb here that people rarely talk about it or question it. I feel like this city has done such a number on my mental health. I am trying to move ASAP.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        Eh, Drogo rapes her repeatedly in the books – she thinks about how it hurts and that she literally wants to die until she has her dragon dreams. The Drogo/Daenerys relationship is icky to me – and the wedding night scene basically reads as wish-fulfillment to me because there’s still a basic consent issue since they can’t communicate. I don’t know why the author wrote the wedding night like he did when he also wrote how Drogo repeatedly raped her afterwards. Anyways, GRRM is gross – rape is every present in the books, kinda like wall paper. It is only used to show how some men are bad, while the female victims are almost always nameless, faceless and voiceless. Sexual violence + racist tropes are HUGE blindspots in the books.

      • Jess says:

        Wow that makes so much more sense than the way the tv show portrayed their relationship. Now I’m angry! I always wondered why she was so intent on pleasing a man like Drogo who clearly didn’t care how uncomfortable she was and made her have sex with him like that. Jesus I wish we could’ve seen the book version on screen, what idiots to rewrite that. The only reason it worked out was because of Jason’s ability to go from cruel and uncaring to soft and gentle, and they had great chemistry on screen. Now I know why they came off so great together, he really was helping her find her power and protecting her.

      • Christina says:

        Parlebleu, it’s not you. It’s the city. My mental health is sort of shattered by all of it. Celebitchy feels good to read because The writers and most of the commenters are so smart and they are feminists. Some are figuring out their feminism, but most people acknowledge it. You aren’t alone and you aren’t crazy. You just aren’t a human in that world.

        My ex was someone who seemed powerful to the Hollywood folks. My last meal with him in LA was at this restaurant next door to the Whiskey-A-Go Go on Sunset Blvd. when he pulled up in his Jaguar (he lived in an apartment in the Bay Area, not with me), the big, fat White Guy doorman kidded my ex’s ass. The ex introduced me as “his girl” and “mother of my daughter.” The doorman DIDNT EVEN LOOK OVER AT ME. He didn’t acknowledge me. He just kept talking and praising my ex, the man who later attempted to kill that daughter we had.

        Leave LA. Don’t look back.

        Sorry that my comment is likely in the wrong place. I’m on a cell phone.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      Eh, in the books he still takes her roughly at times after that first night, and she cries and even contemplates killing herself. I always saw their relationship as some Stockholm situation. And she was like 14 in the books with an older man who she was intimidated by. Also the Dothraki weren’t known for being woke about a woman’s autonomy. The villages they invaded either gave up tributes in return for not being killed or taken as slaves, sexual or other, or fought and get killed anyway. I never understood people who thought her relationship with Drogo was so great.

      • Becks1 says:

        @regina – okay, thanks bc that is part of what I remember from the books (I only read the first two and years ago, I need to go back and re-read and then catch up) – but I thought maybe I was wrong. I don’t remember their relationship as this epitome of love and female autonomy, at least not at first.

        For Emilia herself – that’s really gross and sad that they treated her that way, but I’m glad the actors stood up for her. I also think its an interesting parallel between her and Dany – as Dany got more control and power she could stand up for herself, and she had more control over her body and it seems the same was true for Emilia as the show progressed.

      • KL says:

        I would never defend the books, because I think GRRM fetishizes female pain and sexuality to the point of outright ignoring actual Medieval social mores, which he’s supposed to be basing his “realism” on.

        That said? Making the decision to go from “this is a complicated and not-great relationship, but the only (current) major character of color actually does care whether or not his child bride is consenting to sex” to “lol nah let’s go for the aesthetic of an on-camera rape scene while the nude actress mimes pain and crying” was A CHOICE, and worth commenting on.

      • ReginaGeorge says:


        Yes. the fact that she was forced to marry him by Viserys, who she couldn’t even stand up to at the time, and only being 13/14, being intimidated by this big, hulking dude to have sex with, who was known to take what he wanted by force anyway, never convinced me this was anything romantic. I’m sure her character at the time, who was scared and felt “expected” to do this or disappoint her brother probably thought she’d better say yes and make this go easier than to stand up for herself and get hurt. Kind of ironic that it seems like she was pressured to do these nude scenes because it was expected of her to not disappoint her fans.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        “[E]very night, some time before the dawn, Drogo would come to her tent and wake her in the dark, to ride her as relentlessly as he rode his stallion. He always took her from behind, Dothraki fashion, for which Dany was grateful; that way her lord husband could not see the tears that wet her face, and she could use her pillow to muffle her cries of pain. When he was done, he would close his eyes and begin to snore softly and Dany would lie beside him, her body bruised and sore, hurting too much for sleep.

        Day followed day, and night followed night, until Dany knew she could not endure a moment longer. She would kill herself rather than go on, she decided one night…”

      • Your cousin Vinny says:

        @Regina, I agree. It’s revisionist history of a very problematic relationship

  5. Lucy says:

    I hate that she had to go through all of that. I also remember Maisie Williams talking about how they gave her full control over how much or how little she was comfortable with showing while shooting her sex scene, and I’m not sure if it makes matters better or worse. I mean, I get it. She was a child when the show started, but it took them 8 seasons to contemplate an actress’s comfort.

  6. Sof says:

    They told her that SHE was the one going to dissapoint the fans? How ironic.

    • styla says:

      lol! Exactly.

    • Your cousin Vinny says:

      Yes, the irony.

      I was a huge fan of the books and by extension, the show but it always riled me that the only “fans” the producers seemed to be considering were heterosexual bros who don’t mind the exploitation and in some cases, outright assault of women.

  7. Lani says:

    I felt like a pervert even watching this garbage. Most tv shows and movies compromise some sort of aspect otherwise represented in their alternate media for some reason, and that should be held up in light of what people are trying to accomplish especially as the current social reform is largely based off feminist sentiment. Nudity and rape is unnecessarily added to most narratives, and its f*ckin gross

  8. kerwood says:

    This is disgusting. I couldn’t get past the first season of Game of Thrones because I thought it exploited women so much. Rape, rape, rape. Naked, naked, naked. Now to hear that it was as exploitative on set as it was on camera makes me even more appalled.

    Clarke’s story is so common. A young girl, fresh out of drama school becomes the ‘hot young thing’ of the moment. The public sees her as a sexual object and she usually doesn’t have much of a career after that. It doesn’t really matter if she can act or not.

    What’s also disturbing about this story is how this young woman was failed by everyone who was supposed to protect her. Where was her agent or manager. Where was the on-set union rep who is supposed to monitor this kind of thing? This young woman was treated like a commodity by practically everyone she worked with. I’m glad I tapped out of Game of Thrones when I did. I won’t go back.

  9. Digital Unicorn says:

    Ambit surprised by this given what we know of the douche bag producers. Emilia is not the only one that was pressured into full frontal nudity, the actress who played Ros also complained she was pressured into. I recall even Lena Headey saying something about the amount of unnecessary female nudity on the show.

    Am waiting on the MeToo stories to start coming out about these 2. We know their is no love lost between them and the cast. They had a rep for treating the GOT cast like crap

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Lena Heady really fought against doing Cersei’s walk of shame in the nude – and I think she was right in this (GRRM often exaggerates medieval precedent – historically, a walk of shame/penitence was done in a shift and with a candle). She also fought the Double Ds on Cersei being pressured into sex with Euron. She lost both fights and I feel bad for her because she was absolutely right.

      • Linn says:

        Lena had a body double to do the walk of shame scene and she got hate from “fans” calling her a bad actress for not wanting to do it herself.

      • petee says:

        I am pretty sure she had a body double because she was pregnant at the time.

  10. Betsy says:

    This is repulsive and I’m glad I never watched. So so disgusting.

  11. Sean says:

    Reading things like this make me glad that I don’t work in the entertainment industry. It also makes me angry that actors are pressured into being or feeling exploited. It’s been this way since forever and it grinds my gears. I know some actors are comfortable doing nudity but no one should be coerced into pushing their personal boundaries like that. Hearing revelations like this also make me question the appropriateness of every nude scene I’ve ever seen.

  12. DP says:

    I’m sorry she went through this but glad she’s being honest about it.
    Side note…
    I’ve watched all the episodes. I was so disappointed with the last season. I’m wondering if it’s worth it for me to go back and read the books? I figured they are too “spoiled” for me now, but They sound better!

    • Nibbi says:

      the books are truly better.
      and ditto what is said above- i saw the show before reading the books, and was therefore surprised at the difference in the marriage night scene between drogo and dany … she was the one who decided to go for it in the books, it was actually sort of sweet. it’s a loss for the show, which definitely went for the “easy kill” of exploitative sex.

    • JanetDR says:

      The books are so much better, but is he ever going to finish? Honestly, I think fans of the series could do a better job and maybe should – mad libs style 😆

  13. Jay says:

    I’ve had many directors try to ask for last minute nudity to which I always say no, I’m not asking an actress last minute to get naked and feel pressured into it. The directors hate it, but I enforce the rule of nudity waivers that describe exactly what is being asked and what the actors (male and female) are comfortable with and agree to do. I know my actresses are always glad to have me there because they know if a director asks them to do something they don’t want to do they can come to me and I will go fight that fight for them. Everyone thinks I’m a bitch anyway so I don’t really care if it pisses the director off that I’m telling him he can’t make a girl go topless. Sorry not sorry, not how we are going to do things in my set.

    • kerwood says:

      Are you with the union? Because that’s the thing that I don’t understand about this story. Union rules are very clear about on-camera nudity and about trying to coerce an actor into doing more nudity. Where was the union rep when all of this was happening? It seems like there was a conspiracy to take advantage of this young woman and it makes me sick.

  14. smcollins says:

    I hope more actresses come out with these types of stories to really shine a light on how prevalent this is, despite the “progress” post Me Too. I remember years and years ago Sharon Stone talking about being tricked into that infamous shot during the interrogation scene in Basic Instinct. Ugh…disgusting.

  15. Borgqueen says:

    Lest not forget the number of porn actresses that were in the earlier seasons. You know they had to hit the casting couch.

  16. Loretta says:

    The Hollywood Reporter wrote that she also said about Jason “”It’s only now that I realize how fortunate I was with that, because that could have gone many, many, many different ways. Because Jason had experience, he had done a bunch of stuff before coming on to this, he was like, ‘Sweetie, this is how it’s meant to be and this is how it’s not meant to be, and I’m going to make sure that’s the way it goes.” She added that Momoa would always make sure she was provided with a robe during nude scenes on set. “He was so kind and considerate and cared about me as a human being.”

    Now I understand even more why she and Jason are such close friends, she felt protected with him.
    It must have been traumatic for Emilia to experience all this at her first big set experience. I admire her even more because she has so much strength

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      Well, Jason seems like an all around sweet guy to begin with. This just makes me think even more highly of him than I already did.

    • amayson1977 says:

      Agree, I am really happy to read that he did right by her and helped her negotiate what could have been even more traumatic and ugly if he weren’t there. This is exactly what women need from men; good guys who behave decently and aren’t afraid to intervene if they see a situation that’s wrong or about to go south. I’m glad Emilia had him there, I wish everyone had a Jason Momoa type to advocate for her and help keep her safe. Count me a fan of his for this!

    • Lucy says:

      Currently feeling a new wave of respect for Jason (not that I didn’t before this).

  17. ReginaGeorge says:

    It’s crazy how they allowed Maisie to dictate exactly how much she wanted to show/not show during her S8 scene with Gendry. Maisie was very vocal about how they left everything up to her and she actually chose to show some side-boob. I wonder if was because everyone saw her grow up on the set that had anything to do with that? Or maybe that she had already been on board for like 9 years and she learned how to handle these situations, as opposed to Emilia who was a fish out if water and naive to it during S1?

  18. Earthbound says:

    I never bought the whole “actually the women are the main and strongest characters in Game of Thrones” line. Typical male use of young female beauty and sexuality for exploit.

  19. carol lindsey says:

    GOT was always a garbage show, and every time I date a guy who loves it, I throw up a little in my mouth and become unable to be sexually attracted to him any longer.

  20. Ruyana says:

    I still had cable when Game of Thrones started. Tuned in once and the amount of nudity and sex just gagged me and I never watched it again.

  21. Original T.C. says:

    If women have to be fully naked for realism, why don’t the male actors. I hope in the future, actresses can get it into their contracts that every nude scene by them requires an equal nude scene from the male lead and not just some butt shot! I mean in films from Europe both genders are equally naked.

  22. mara says:

    Jason Mamoa is amazing. As if we needed more reasons to love him!