Emilia Clarke has opened up about the ending of Game of Thrones, which saw Daenerys' fate sealed following the burning of King's Landing in the penultimate episode.
"To me, it seemed like the only way it could end," she told The New Yorker, after viewers watched Jon Snow (Kit Harington) stab his new queen and one-time lover Dany the final episode.
Clarke said that while she understood the tragic path of her character, she admitted that she had struggled to come to terms with the ending that showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff delivered.
"I’ve given so much to and I’ve felt so much for, and for a character that’s seen and lived through so much, I don’t know that there was any other way. But it was a shocker to read," she said of her character's end.
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"I care for her so much," she explained. "She’s been a part of me for so long that, in reading this script, I did what any actor is told to do and would do. You have to agree with your character. If you don’t agree with your character, then you shouldn’t take the job.
"I really just had to sit there and wrestle with how I could make good on what they had written. Because that’s her. They are the writers. They have made this woman, and I’m going to take on what it is and try and interpret that to my best ability."
Clarke added that Dany's 'madness' during the destruction of King's Landing is understandable when you see her character as a whole.
"She’s not wanted. She’s not loved completely there. And so she gives herself to Jon [Snow] entirely, and she gives him many, many choices, many options to see clearly with open eyes. And she’s asking him, 'If you wanted to be with me, then let me fulfil this. . . . I know I can be a good leader, so let’s do this together. Let’s do it.' And he doesn’t.
"And that disappointment is the final thing that breaks her as a human being, because, my God, all she’s known is pain, sacrifice, and abuse. All she’s known is people turning on her, people betraying her, and she’s completely alone. And so, with all of that, I think that it brings us to the moment where she’s on top of the dragon and making that choice."
She said that the final scene, which saw her death at the hands of Jon Snow, was "a shocker" to read – but that she tried to bring some humanity to it, to not just have Daenerys written off as a "Mad Queen".
"I don’t enjoy fans calling me 'the Mad Queen.' But she’s is so far gone in grief, in trauma, and in pain. And yet our brains are fascinating in the way that they find a fast route to feel OK, whether you’re relying on a substance or you’re mildly deluded.
"If you see abuse in someone young, they often are able to mentally leave the room. I wanted Daenerys to be there. I wanted to show her as we saw her in the beginning: young, naïve, childlike, open, and full of love and hope. I wanted so much for that to be the last memory of her."
Game of Thrones seasons 1-8 are streaming on NOW TV