Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, says that she has lost “quite a bit” of her brain due to two aneurysms. “The amount of my brain that is no longer usable — it’s remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions,” she told BBC One’s Sunday Morning over the weekend. “I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that,” she added.
The actor stresses that she’s not exaggerating. “There’s quite a bit missing!” she said on Sunday Morning. “Which always makes me laugh. “Because strokes, basically, as soon as any part of your brain doesn’t get blood for a second, it’s gone. And so the blood finds a different route to get around but then whatever bit it’s missing is therefore gone.”
Clarke experienced her first aneurysm just after wrapping her first tv episodes of Game of Thrones back in 2011. The aneurysm also caused a stroke and a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
The long road to recovery for Emilia Clarke
The damage necessitated brain surgery. Afterward, Emilia Clarke had trouble even recalling her name. “I was suffering from a condition called aphasia, a consequence of the trauma my brain had suffered,” she wrote in an essay for The New Yorker in 2019. “In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug,” she recalled. “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.” Aphasia is the same condition that actor Bruce Willis announced he had been diagnosed with back in March. The ailment led to the veteran actor’s retirement.
Fortunately, for Clarke, her aphasia was short-term.” I was sent back to the I.C.U. and, after about a week, the aphasia passed,” she wrote. “I was able to speak.”
In 2013, Emilia Clarke had a second operation to address another aneurysm. Although the operation was difficult and had complications, the actress has been able to resume her career. She’s currently on stage in The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. She’s also one of the leads in the Disney+ superhero series, Secret Invasion, due out later this year.
However, Emilia Clarke hasn’t forgotten her ordeal. To raise money for individuals recovering from brain injuries and strokes, Clarke has established a charity, SameYou. The serious medical issues certainly put things in perspective for the actor. “The happy moments and being happy is what you’re going to see on your deathbed. You’re not going to remember the times when you took that super-cute selfie,” she said in a recent interview.