Emilia Clarke has just revealed in a powerful essay that she has survived two life-threatening brain aneurysms since her work on Game of Thrones began.
In an essay for The New Yorker published Thursday, Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, writes that in February 2011, two months before the first season's premiere, she suffered a type of stroke that kills one-third of patients, and was rushed to the hospital after experiencing a "shooting, stabbing, constricting pain." Following a three-hour surgery, Clarke says she suffered from aphasia and couldn't even remember her name. "In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug," she writes. "I asked the medical staff to let me die."
Clarke says she was told she had a smaller aneurysm in her brain that "could 'pop' at any time," so when she went back to filming Game of Thrones, "every minute of every day I thought I was going to die." She eventually received a second surgery for this other aneurysm, but it didn't go according to plan. "I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn't operate again," she says. The recovery from this more intrusive surgery was even more painful, she describes, saying she was "convinced that I wasn't going to live."
Her fear didn't go away after she was out of the hospital, and Clarke goes into detail about the pressure of trying to maintain her public persona while at the same time fearing she wouldn't be able to "cheat death" again: Once, she had a "horrific headache" at Comic-Con and thought, "This is it. My time is up."
Now, though, Clarke says she has "healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes" and has started a charity called SameYou to fund treatment for those who suffer from brain injuries and strokes. Read Clarke's emotional account at The New Yorker. Brendan Morrow