The Famous Role Emilia Clarke Said ‘No’ To
Published on June 10, 2019
It’s hard to imagine Emilia Clarke as any other character other than Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen. After spending eight seasons and 10 years of her life as Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, it’s undoubtedly what she is most known for. But, believe it or not, for a moment in time there was a chance fans would know her as another famous character, Anastasia Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, a very brief moment anyway.
No Longer Okay With Nudity
Of course, that role was ultimately cast and portrayed by Dakota Johnson. But before the franchise took off, Clarke was in talks to play the leading lady. Ironically, she decided to turn down the role because of the concerns she had over nudity. It may seem strange, seeing as Clarke had to bare it all on more than one occasion on GoT. Clearly, nudity isn’t a dealbreaker for Clarke, right? As it turns out, those GoT scenes are precisely what turned her away from taking on the role of Anastasia.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Clarke explained that she loved the vision of the movie. However, she grew tired of questions constantly focused on her on-screen nudity. Although the nude scenes happened much earlier in GoT (and her career), it’s still a common topic of discussion today. She added that she did it to stay true to her character, not so men could check her out. She also implied she thinks it’s unfair for that to be the topic of conversations simply because she’s a woman.
Treading Away From a Typecast
Clarke went on to explain that even though her nude scenes were minimal, she felt it “pigeonholed [her] for life.” She didn’t think saying yes to a movie centered around sex and nudity would be in her best interests. She acknowledged that proactively putting herself in that situation and context would only breed more of the same questions she’s become sick of answering regarding her on-screen nudity. It makes sense: Clarke delivered iconic performances during her role as Khaleesi. Yet, those early episodes are more often discussed when they were comparatively unimportant to other (fully clothed) scenes. Rather than focusing on her character’s journey, which the nude scenes were meant to highlight, many fans honed in on her body and her decision to strip down on camera.
Forgoing the Fifty Shades Franchise
Nudity wasn’t the only factor that contributed to Clarke turning down the role, though. She has also said she isn’t interested in joining another major franchise any time soon. Committing to a long-term project with multiple installments is a serious undertaking, so it’s understandable that Clarke wants to step away from this type of work for a while. Game of Thrones did occupy a decade of her life, after all.
It’s interesting to imagine how Fifty Shades of Grey may have been different with Clarke assuming the role of Anastasia. But most would agree it worked out the way it was meant to in the end. Clarke’s decision to turn down the role certainly worked in Dakota Johnson’s favor. Although the films have gained widespread criticism, the franchise generated over $1.3 billion globally. It is also ranked as the fourth highest-grossing R-rated franchise in history.
Women in Hollywood face an incredible amount of pressure, scrutinization, and obstacles when it comes to their image. It’s unfair that actors like Clarke have to worry about accepting or declining job offers based on concerns about physical appearance overshadowing acting abilities. But it’s good to see Clarke being smart about what projects she decides to work on and choosing roles she know she will be comfortable with.
We’re just looking forward to seeing her on screen again, whenever that may be.