Emilia Clarke Prepared for her Game of Thrones Finale Speech by Watching Videos of Hitler
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the finale of Game of Thrones.
The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones saw Emilia Clarke‘s Daenerys Targaryen descend into madness. In the final episode, she gives a chilling speech — in both “fake” languages she had to learn for the series, Valyrian and Dothraki — that might remind you of a certain dictator from our real-world history.
“In giving all these speeches in fake languages, I watched a lot of videos of — now it seems funny — dictators and powerful leaders speaking a different language to see if I could understand what they were saying without knowing the language,” Clarke told Variety in an interview published Tuesday.
“And you can! You absolutely can understand what Hitler’s f—ing saying, these single-focus orators speaking a foreign language. So I thought, ‘If I can believe every single word I’m saying, the audience won’t need to be looking at the subtitles too much.'”
Clarke, 32, divulged that she filmed the scene in front of a green screen, making it even more awkward to deliver the tyrannical speech.
“I knew I had to be completely and utterly prepared to make an utter fool of myself,” she told the outlet.
The actress revealed that she was so worried leading up to the day her speech was filmed, the buildup “almost killed” her because she knew what an integral part of the story and her character’s arc the scene was.
“I’ve had a lot of Dothraki, Valyrian, fake languages to learn, and I’ve had a lot of speeches to give, but I put so much pressure on myself with this [scene],” she said. “Any actor will tell you the days on set are long and then you go home and do your homework, which is learning your lines for the next day. This is learning a fake language on top of that! It almost killed me.”
“I normally pick up these things quite quickly, but this speech meant so much to me. I was so worried that I was going to f— it up. I stayed up so late every night for like two months. I said it to my cooker, I said it to my fridge,” she added. “I said it to all of Belfast out my window! Well, the window was closed because I didn’t want people to think I was actually barking mad.”
Even the night before the scene was filmed, Clarke thought she couldn’t do it.
“And the morning of, I had gotten no sleep whatsoever because I’d been up all night tearfully thinking, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t get through it without messing up my lines.’ I knew that this was one of the most solidifying, integral moments for Daenerys as a character,” Clarke said.
On set, she had her dialect coach “literally within spitting distance” because she was sure she’d need help with the tricky languages.
But the Solo: A Star Wars Story star had it in her all along.
“Then the weirdest thing happened — I walked on set, didn’t need a rehearsal, and I got through the whole thing perfect on the first go. The rest of the day it was like Daenerys was just with me,” Clarke said. “That’s the only time I got through that speech without getting anything wrong, when it was on camera. If you had asked me to do it the next day, I’d already forgotten it.”
Clarke previously told PEOPLE that she had a hard time after learning Daenerys’ season 8 fate. Not only did she go full Targaryen and end up poised to become a dictator, but her lover Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was the one to kill her in the end.
Her immediately reaction after reading the final season scripts? “I cried,” she said. “And I went for a walk. I walked out of the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours. I’m like, ‘How am I going to do this?'”
While Dany’s character turn in the penultimate episode of season 8 was a twist, there have been signs since the first season that she could follow in the footsteps of her father — who was known throughout the Seven Kingdoms as “The Mad King.”
Clarke said that before she ever knew Dany’s fate, producers would give her notes that seemed confusing at the time, but made much more sense after season 8.
“There’s a number of times I’ve been like, ‘Why are you giving me that note?’” she said. “So yes, this has made me look back at all the notes I’ve ever had.”
But despite the emotion and the “struggle” Clarke had with the scripts in season 8, she finds her destiny a “very beautiful and touching ending.”
“I stand by Daenerys,” she said. “I stand by her! I can’t not.”