Emilia Clarke is reflecting on the life-threatening health struggles she’s gone through over the years.
The popular Game Of Thrones actress suffered two nearly fatal brain aneurysms in 2011 and 2013. And in a new in-depth interview that was released on Sunday, the London-born star shared with the world just how miraculous her recovery really was.
Speaking on BBC‘s interview series Sunday Morning, Khaleesi recalled suffering her first life-threatening aneurysm back in 2011, very soon after she wrapped filming for the first season of the memorable TV series. The aneurysm required immediate brain surgery. The aftermath of that forced Emilia to endure “the most excruciating pain,” as she told the outlet over the weekend.
A second aneurysm in 2013 required another lengthy recovery period amid filming seasons of GoT. Clarke previously explained the ordeal in a 2019 essay for The New Yorker in which she revealed that she couldn’t remember her own name for a long time as she recovered.
She seems so healthy these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking these aneurysms weren’t as dangerous as they were. But in this new interview about the health scare, Clarke revealed that “quite a bit” of her brain is still “missing” now, even years afterward. She explained:
“There’s quite a bit missing, 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. So the blood finds a different route to get around, but then whatever bit is missing is therefore gone.”
Emilia is very, very lucky, telling the outlet doctors have been amazed at her recovery in light of how much brain activity she lost following the aneurysms. Most people who suffer this kind of loss lose memory, speech, motor function, that kind of thing. The Last Christmas star explained:
“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. I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that.”
The actress famously played Daenerys Targaryen on the hit HBO series throughout the ordeal. In fact, Emilia credits her Game of Thrones work with helping her get through such a difficult period in her life:
“Its was the most excruciating pain. It was incredibly helpful to have Game of Thrones sweep me up and give me that purpose.”
The importance of purpose! Being pushed to move and remember lines and raise her dragons really did help.
The star has put her experience to good use for others, too. Emilia has since started a charity for brain injury and stroke victims called SameYou. With her positive personal outlook, the 35-year-old is focused on moving forward:
“I thought, ‘Well, this is who you are. This is the brain that you have.’ So there’s no point in continually wracking your brains about what might not be there.”
And move forward, she has: she is currently starring in a modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov‘s play The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre, a major milestone in Clarke’s career, as it marks her West End debut.
Such a very hopeful follow-up to what was an unbelievably challenging time in the star’s life. What inspiring resilience!